“Best Film Festival Ever” Says Director Roger Durling
On Wednesday morning, January 3, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival unveiled its slate for the 22nd annual affair, this year running from Thursday, January 25 to Sunday, February 4. With dozens of dignitaries, journalists, cameramen, and fest staffers and volunteers looking on in the lobby of the Hotel Santa Barbara, the fest’s flamboyant director Roger Durling confirmed that he was “extremely confident” in this year’s offerings and that talk suggesting previous years were better was “B.S. and wishful thinking.”
The oft shy, shaky voiced Durling promised in a strong, unwavering boom, “This is the best film festival that this town has ever seen.” As evidence, Durling cited The New Yorker‘s decision to sponsor the festival, Variety magazine’s decision to highlight the festival in a January issue, and the Academy Awards’ decision to give a grant to the SBIFF this year.
Before delving into the films and special appearances, Durling took time to explain what the festival had to offer the locals. It was a shot across the bow to those who, in recent years, have complained that the festival is less for Santa Barbarans, and more for visiting tourists. Durling confirmed that the Third Weekend event will happen again this year from February 9 to 11; that’s the weekend when Santa Barbarans can see the fest’s highlights, all for free, with donations going directly to The Unity Shoppe. Also continuing this year will be the 10-10-10 Student Screenwriting and Filmmaking Competitions and the “Field Trip to the Movies,” which brings thousands of Santa Barbara schoolchildren to see the educational outdoor films that are part of the Reel Nature series.
And as a new locals-friendly event, Durling announced the “Apple Box,” which is a free family festival for children and their parents. That will take place during the weekend mornings of the festival from 9 to 10:30 a.m., with free screenings of Happy Feet, Cars, and Monster House. And just to make the nearby businesses happier, the Downtown Organization is partnering with the festival to get merchants and restaurants to take part in a 10 percent discount passport for fest attendees. Durling also confirmed the fest’s commitment to screening Santa Barbara filmmakers, explaining that one such film called Lost Souls, about the illicit act of art trafficking, was even moved to the main schedule.
Then Durling got to the actual festival. In addition to the already publicized appearances by Will Smith as the Modern Master, Helen Mirren for Outstanding Performance of the Year in The Queen, and Forest Whitaker for the American Riviera Award due to his role as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, and the opening night film Factory Girl—about Andy Warhol’s muse Edie Sedgwick, who was born and overdosed in Santa Barbara—Durling announced that the centerpiece film will be Michael Apted’s Amazing Grace and the closing night will be Gray Matters with Heather Graham. And Durling was quite excited in telling the press about the coming of Bill Condon, the director of the superhot musical film Dreamgirls who will be in town to accept the Montecito Award. Durling said that the film’s star Jennifer Hudson will also be in attendance.
For the full press release, complete with all the film screenings, dates, and special events, click here.