Freida Pinto Named ‘Shining Star’ of Maui Film Festival for Daring to ‘Dream Big’

Indian actress Freida Pinto, who burst onto movie screens in the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” and has spanned the world in her subsequent film roles, will be honored with the 2017 Maui Film Festival Shining Star Award, festival founder and director Barry Rivers announced today. Pinto will accept the award in a June 22 tribute at the festival’s signature Celestial Cinema on the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course at the Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii.

“After scanning the constellation of cinema stardom for a film artist who has already and deservedly enjoyed great success, and yet is still in the ascendancy of his or her career, we are so very excited to honor Freida Pinto, whose exceptional passion and drive continue to soar,” said Rivers.

The award honors “a film artist who dares to dream big dreams and delivers brilliantly charismatic and revelatory performances every time that opportunity knocks.” Previous Shining Star honorees include Adam Driver, Zac Efron, Andrew Garfield, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emma Roberts and Olivia Wilde.

The Shining Star tribute will include clips of the 32-year-old Pinto’s already extensive filmography. The Bombay-born former model adds more cosmopolitan cachet to this year’s luminary lineup, following the announcement that Scottish actress/director Karen Gillan will be presented with the festival’s 2017 Rising Star award June 24.

The daughter of a school principal and a bank branch manager, Pinto grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai). A graduate of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai with a degree in English literature, she was working as a model when director Danny Boyle cast her as Latika in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

That groundbreaking 2008 drama would win Best Picture and seven more Oscars, among more than 150 international prizes including a best actress nomination for Pinto from BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

It would also propel her into a career that plays out like a classic screen adventure itself, from her role as “Miral” as a Palestinian girl drawn into the Arab-Israeli conflict, to goddess Phaedra in “The Immortals.”

Woody Allen directed her in “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.” She was “Desert Dancer” — an enchanting but battle-hardened muse who inspires a young man to risk his life starting a dance company in modern Iran.

Her own training as a classical Indian dancer is evident in many of her roles, beginning with “Slumdog Millionaire’s” Bollywood number set in a train station.

She was one of the seductions of Terrence Malik’s “Knight of Cups”; she was “Trishna” in director Michael Winterbottom’s update of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” relocated in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan. Other films included “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and playing Princess Leyla in “Day of the Falcon,” a sprawling adventure set in the Arab world of the 1930s.

She is currently co-starring with Idris Elba in “Guerrilla,” a six-part Showtime series focusing on “a politically active couple who set out to change the world in 1970s London.”

Next year, she will be reunited with “Knight of Cups” stars Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett along with Benedict Cumberbach in Andy Serkis’ “Jungle Book.”

Other projects include the independent feature “Love Sonia,” expected to premiere later this year; and the 2013 documentary “Girl Rising,” telling of nine girls from different parts of the world “facing heartbreaking injustices,” according to a release. She is also involved with the organization Girl Effect “to support the rights of young women.”

At least two more Maui Film Festival honorees will be announced in coming weeks for the 18th annual festival, running June 21-25 at Wailea and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. For more information, visit

After becoming a fixture on the big screen with the critically and commercially acclaimed “Slumdog Millionaire,” Pinto quickly became an international film star. Freida has many notable roles in her kitty, including “Desert Dancer,” “Miral,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Trishna,” and “You Will Meet a Dark Stranger.”

Her upcoming projects include Warner Brothers’ “Jungle Book,” expected to open in 2018, as well as the independent feature, “Love Sonia,” which also stars Demi Moore, Mark Duplass, Anupam Kher, Richa Chadha, Manoj Bajpayee and child actor Sunny Pawar.

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