Savannah Film Fest: Aaron Sorkin, John Boyega, Robert Pattinson Among Oscar Hopefuls Set for 20th Edition (Exclusive)

John Boyega, Holly Hunter, Reobert Pattinson, Salma Hayek Pinault, Aaron Sorkin and Sir Patrick Stewart - Getty - H Split 2017
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A veritable phalanx of 2017 Oscar contenders — Detroit's John Boyega, The Big Sick's Holly Hunter, Good Time's Robert Pattinson, Beatriz at Dinner's Salma Hayek Pinault, Molly's Game's Aaron Sorkin and Logan's Patrick Stewart, plus the directors of 10 top contenders for the best documentary feature Oscar — will head south to be honored as part of the blowout 20th anniversary edition of the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

The nation's largest university-run film festival will take place from Oct. 28-Nov. 4 on the Savannah campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, just as it has every year since 1997. In recent years, under the oversight of artistic director Christina Routhier, the fest, long known for its beautiful setting and Southern hospitality, also has become an important stop on the awards circuit.

Big-name guests will pick up honors following screenings of and conversations about their 2017 work that will be spread throughout the eight-day gathering: Boyega will receive the Vanguard Award; Hunter, the Icon Award; Pattinson, the Maverick Award; Pinault, the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award; Sorkin, the Outstanding Achievement in Directing Award; and Stewart, the Legend of Cinema Award. Additional honorees, master classes, coffee talks, lectures, workshops, panel discussions and the full lineup for the fest's 20th edition will be announced in the coming days.

The fest lineup will include a "Docs to Watch" sidebar, where many of the year's best documentary features will be screened — and, for the fourth year in a row, I will moderate the "Docs to Watch Panel," for which the fest is bringing in the directors of ten of those docs to discuss their work. The full 90-minute conversation will air exclusively on The Hollywood Reporter's website shortly after it takes place. (The 2014, 2015 and 2016 panels are still available for viewing.)

This year's "Docs to Watch Panel" participants will be Evgeny Afineevsky, a past Oscar nominee for 2015's Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, for Cries from Syria (HBO); Greg Barker for The Final Year (HBO); Bryan Fogel for Icarus (Netflix); Yance Ford for Strong Island (Netflix); Amanda Lipitz for Step (Fox Searchlight); Brett Morgen, a past Oscar nominee for 1999's On the Ropes, for Jane (National Geographic); Jeff Orlowski for Chasing Coral (Netflix); Laura Poitras, a past Oscar nominee for 2006's My Country, My Country and Oscar winner for 2014's Citizenfour; Risk (Neon/Showtime); John Ridley, a past Oscar winner for the screenplay of 2013's 12 Years a Slave, for Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (Lincoln Square); and Ceyda Torun for Kedi (Oscilloscope).

Clockwise, from top left: Icarus; Chasing Coral; Jane; Kedi; Step; Risk; The Final Year; Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992; Strong Island; and Cries from Syria.