A last minute family emergency forced Sir Anthony Hopkins to cancel his trip to the fourth Maui Film Festival this weekend, where he was due to collect the Silversword Award Tribute.

"We wish Sir Anthony well and would love to present the award to him next year," Barry Rivers, executive festival director, informed the audience at the Grand Wailea Resort and Spa Hotel in Hawaii on Friday (Jun 13).

The Oscar winning actor was due to receive the award in recognition of his contribution to film-making and his "personal commitment to affect positive change in the world". An on-stage interview was scheduled to follow the presentation.

However in a timely and fortuitous passing of the baton Hopkins was replaced on stage by festival attendee Adrien Brody, who this year became the youngest man ever to win the Oscar for his performance in The Pianist.

Brody, a dignified and reflective 30-year-old, described the enforced isolation that was part of his preparation for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski's Holocaust drama.

"I lost 30 pounds in six weeks. I gave up my flat in New York - which was a big mistake - I sold my car, got rid of my cell phone, stopped listening to modern music and took piano lessons every day," he said.

When he was announced as the winner of the Academy Award Brody said he nearly missed his cue. "I didn't recognise the name they called out because I was waiting for a name I recognised. I really didn't recognise my own name."

Brody, whose next releases include the much-delayed crime drama Love The Hard Way, the comedy-drama Dummy and The Singing Detective, said he had no new projects lined up.

"I am still trying to be selective. I have not found anything yet that fully inspires me. There are a lot of offers but they are not necessarily right."

On Saturday Greg Kinnear collected the inaugural Navigator Award in honour of an actor who has "carved a unique career in the motion picture industry".

Meanwhile, festival ticket sales and attendance figures for the Festival rose by 75% against last year, Barry Rivers said on the event's closing day yesterday.

Overall the five-day event, which ran on the Hawaiian island from Jun 11-15, drew more than 17,500 people compared to 10,000 in 2002.

While Rob Reiner's romantic comedy Alex & Emma - which opened the festival and is released in the US on Jun 20 - drew a crowd of 2,250, Dana Brown's acclaimed surfing documentary Step Into Liquid produced the biggest ever audience on Jun 12 of 3,010.

"A film festival director's dream is that in any given year, the festival will be twice as successful as the previous year; the fantasy is that it might be three times as successful and the miracle is what happened to us this year, when it was 10 times better than we could have ever hoped or planned," Rivers said.

Adrien Brody, Rob Reiner, Geena Davis, Bai Ling and Kelly Hu were among celebrities in attendance.

Next year's event is scheduled to take place from Jun 16-20.