Sarah Silverman and Josh Charles in “I Smile Back,” which screens at the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival. Courtesy image.
Over the course of her 23-year career, Sarah Silverman has drawn widespread acclaim as a stand-up comedian and as an actress in both TV (The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers) and film (The Aristocrats, School of Rock), largely on her ease – and willingness to make the uncomfortable funny.

But in the intense addiction drama I Smile Back, Silverman looks to make the uncomfortable simply discomfiting, playing attractive, intelligent suburban wife and devoted mother of two Laney Brooks, whose seemingly picture-perfect life belies the fact that beneath the façade she’s ridden with depression and disillusionment that send her careening into a secret world of reckless compulsion.

Ih her portrayal of Brooks, Silverman displayed such dramatic chops that she’ll be honored with the Mill Valley Award during a Spotlight event at the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival, which runs Oct. 8-18.

After I Smile Back debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January, Silverman drew rave reviews, with Variety‘s Scott Foundas declaring, “Rarely has a performer striven so concertedly to shed any trace of his/her comedy roots as Sarah Silverman does over the course of I Smile Back, an addiction drama in which the acerbic comedienne gives the kind of warts-and-all, let-it-all-hang-out (body parts, fluids, etc) turn that awards’ consultants dreams are made of…”

The Mill Valley Film Festival screening of I Smile Back, a film adaption of a novel by Amy Koppelman, will be followed by a line on-stage Q&A with Silverman and a presentation of the MVFF Award.

Raised in New Hampshire before attending New York University, Silverman joined comedy juggernaut Saturday Night Live in 1993 as a writer and feature performer. She’s garnered two Emmy Awards and a Grammy nomination.

The California Film Institute will unveil the complete schedule for the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival on September 15.

Watch Sarah Silverman and the filmmakers of I Smile Back discuss the film at the Variety Studio at Sundance:

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