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Young actress honored with Nova Award at MFF


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POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zooey Deschanel is one of those versatile character actresses whose name recognition is still growing, probably because she avoids celebrity magazines to maintain a certain level of privacy. But looking at her impressive body of work—exhibited in a long clip reel at last week's Maui Film Festival, where she was on hand to accept the Nova Award won by Felicity Huffman and Claire Danes in previous years—indicates that she will be around for a long time.

“;This is pretty cool on the beach here,”; she said to the crowd on blankets and lawn chairs at the SandDance Theater after a screening of “;Surf's Up,”; the animated film to which she lends her husky voice for the character of Lani Aliikai. “;I've never gotten an award before, so I'm pretty excited.”;

With plenty of musical talent and a second album on the way (remember how beautifully she sang in “;Elf”; with Will Ferrell?), she admitted that in every movie she works on, producers try to find a way for her to sing. “;But unless it goes with the story, I don't want to do it,”; she said. Of note to Hawaii fans: Her talent base also includes some skill on the ukulele.

“;I always thought it was such a nice sounding instrument and very portable, and I love that it was so popular in the '20s,”; she said in a private interview before a public question-and-answer session. “;I thought it was such a nice sound that I didn't want it to lose its place in pop music today, so I just wanted to learn it. I'm not a great ukulele player, but I've played it a lot live.”;

WHEN ASKED about films she is most proud of, Deschanel indicated that “;500 Days of Summer”; currently tops her list. “;It's really hard to know when a movie's going to turn out great or not,”; she said. “;And this one exceeded my expectations.”;

“;All the Real Girls”; also ranks among her favorites.

Some of her co-stars over the years have included Jim Carrey (”;Yes Man”;), Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey (”;Failure to Launch”;), Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (”;The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”;), Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup (”;Almost Famous”;), Jennifer Aniston (”;The Good Girl”;) and many others. But there was one in particular the audience wanted to know about: “;I love Will Ferrell,”; she confirmed. “;He's such a nice gentleman. He's really fantastic, and a great actor.”;

After declining requests to sing, the daughter of an actress and an Academy Award-nominated cinematographer said she will make every effort to return to the islands. “;I love Hawaii,”; she said. “;It's so amazing. I immediately relaxed when I got off the plane.”;

LOCAL ACTORS interested in auditioning for a new short dramatic film—the fourth by writer/director Kathleen Man—should schedule an audition slot by e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

“;Lychee Thieves”; revolves around “;four local characters on Oahu who battle over harvesting rights to a miraculously bountiful lychee fruit tree,”; according to a summary from co-producer Titus Chong.

Producers are looking for two men, Hawaiian and Caucasian; and two women, Japanese and Chinese. The age range of the characters is broad, and ACM students are welcome to apply for internships, Chong said. Open auditions take place from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Shooting starts in August.