Shop Talking

The Skinny on the Panels

Looking at the matter of close encounters with the film medium and industry at the Film Festival, celebrity tributes are fine and good, and help give the festival publicity-generating glitz. But things usually get deeper at the festival’s panel discussions, which have become more stocked with big-name artists in recent years. Panel discussions with embedded professionals in the industry are what can truly make the festival front seem like Hollywood North. Panelists dispense shop talk, philosophize, and generally keep egos at bay while swapping quips and compliments with others: it’s the panel discussion way, a collaborative project, like film itself.

As usual, the biggie on this year’s panel scene is It Starts with the Script, moving its location to the Marjorie Luke Theatre (Sat., Feb. 11, 11 a.m.). On the panel will be wordsmiths from some of last year’s finest films, including Larry McMurtry (Brokeback Mountain), Josh Olsen (A History of Violence), Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck), and James Mangold (Walk the Line). Another traditionally prominent panel is Directors on Directing (Sun., Feb. 5, 11 a.m., at the Lobero). This year, the table includes the respected likes of Paul Haggis (Crash), Duncan Tucker (Transamerica), Bennett Miller (Capote), and Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, which has its official Santa Barbara debut at the festival).

Producers have their say on the recurring panel called Movers and Shakers (Feb. 11, 2 p.m., at Victoria Hall), moderated by the L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein. Among the panelists will be Sarah Greene (The New World), Michael Ohoven (Capote), Diana Ossana (Brokeback Mountain), and J.C. Spink (A History of Violence).

The Scoring the Film panel (Sun., Feb. 12, 1 p.m., Victoria Hall) gives credit due to the often overlooked aspect of music in film. Representing the phenom of rockers-turned-film scorers are Stewart Copeland (here with his Police doc Everybody Stares) and ex-Heart throb Nancy Wilson (who lent good music to one of the year’s stinkiest films, Elizabethtown). Also on hand will be the busy Mark Isham (Crash), Mychael Danna (Capote), and Heitor Pereira (Ask the Dust).

Creative Forces: Women in the Biz (Sat., Feb 4, 11 a.m., Lobero) sports a list of panelists so far including Allison Abbate and Pamela Pettler (from The Corpse Bride), Kimberlee Acquaro (director, God Sleeps in Rwanda), and Christa Munro (art director for the impressive-looking Good Night, and Good Luck). Clearly, this year there’s plenty to talk about in the film world, with multiple different interests and dialects

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