Toronto: Nicolas Cage Tells Spotlight Initiative Awards Art Is "Healthiest Medicine"

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Nicolas Cage

The 'Color Out of Space' star, Keke Palmer ('Hustlers') and Chloe Bennet ('Abominable') were honored Saturday night at the Creative Coalition gala at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage on Saturday night told the Creative Coalition's Spotlight Initiative Awards dinner that art has a healing power.

"Art has always been something like a medicine to me. The healthiest medicine — a medicine that takes the lead of pain and transmutes it into the gold of creative expression," the actor said as he was honored for his philanthropy during the Toronto International Film Festival.

The gala took place before the world premiere of Cage's Color Out of Space, the Lovecraftian horror flick helmed by Richard Stanley and acquired by RLJE Films heading into the festival.

During his acceptance speech, the actor also discussed funding cuts in art education. "When you think about a world that doesn't have art in our curriculum, in our schools, you can see how we really are in need of that medicine," Cage added.

Abominable star Chloe Bennet, Hustlers co-star Keke Palmer and Castle in the Ground director Joey Klein and castmembers Imogen Poots and Alex Wolff were also feted at the fundraiser.

Palmer recalled growing up in a family that encouraged her to watch movies and explore culture in small-town Illinois. "Art is what allows us to breathe. We create the colors of life. Creativity. Vision. That is what makes my life," she told the gathering for Creative Coalition, founded in 1989 by producer Ron Silver to promote free speech and federal funding for the arts and art education.

Castle in the Ground's Wolff told the gala audience that Cage was the reason he took up acting, and that he learned about addiction — the subject of his latest movie — by watching Cage's Leaving Las Vegas.

"Entertainment can shine the light on ordinary lives and make them seem sort of outrageous," added Poots. 

Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk hosted the Spotlight Initiative Gala awards dinner at the Nordstrom Supper Suite. Joining her were presenters including Abominable helmer Jill Culton and actor Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) and Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery).

TIFF continues through Sept. 15.