Stranger Than Fiction

By Matt Kettmann

One thing’s for certain: Santa Barbara is a perfect town for premiering blockbuster movies. We’ve got the bright lights, the fancy main drag, the cinematic history, the star-studded populace, and the nightlife to make trips up here from Hollywood well worth the drive. What’s not certain is why it’s taken so long for that notion to become a reality.

But then the Santa Barbara International Film Festival got Roger Durling-ized nearly four years ago, the tides shifted, and we’ve been nabbing our fair share of premieres ever since, including Seabiscuit, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Door in the Floor. That streak peaks this November 5, when Stranger than Fiction makes its premiere — and brings along stars Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson, among others — at the Lobero Theatre as the Film Fest’s $250/head fall fundraiser.

Directed by Marc Forster of Finding Neverland and Monster’s Ball fame, the film — also starring Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah — is a dramedy about a novelist whose written world collides with the real one. “The film is amazing,” confirmed Durling over the phone from the Telluride Film Fest. “I think this is better than Finding Neverland and Will Ferrell will shock you. It’s a demanding role.” And with Ferrell being one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood these days, the fact that he’s confirmed his attendance is quite a statement.

“I can’t stress how big of a deal this is for us,” gushed Durling. So how’d it happen? Well, Forster debuted Finding Neverland here a couple years ago, and when that film went on to great acclaim, he began considering Santa Barbara his “good luck charm.” So it looks like Forster and crew are ready for more good luck, just as we’re ready for more premieres. Keep ’em coming. For tickets, call 963-0023.

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