Reports from Opening Night, January 25
Welcome to The Indy‘s first report from the hard streets of the 22nd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. As you know, last night was Opening Night, which means a couple thousands folks got to see Factory Girl at the Arlington and then mosey on down to Paseo Nuevo, where the mall had been transformed into a debaucherous wonderland. What follows is a take on the night from Shannon Kelley Gould, some photos by J’Amy Brown, and some more thoughts — including a critique of the film fest trailer — by Matt Kettmann. Expect lots more to come.
Finding Her Pace on the Opening Night of an 11-day Party
By Shannon Kelley Gould “Pace yourself, Shannon!” This advice came to me around midnight last night at SBIFF’s opening bash in a decked out Paseo Nuevo from fest director Roger Durling. Though maybe he was simply concerned that my carriage would turn into a pumpkin, my dress (okay, pants) into rags, and my entourage into mice, after looking at the clock, I determined he was right. So I darted out of the duly transformed, “La Dolce Vita”-themed Paseo Nuevo (partying at the mall — could it possibly get any better than that?), snagged myself a cab, and landed at home in time for a quick game of keep-away with my dog, and with enough wits about me to set my alarm. If you’d seen last night’s premiere of Factory Girl, the tragic tale of local lost soul Edie Sedgwick, you’d understand why I took the Durls’ advice to heart. While the adorable Sienna Miller was fantastic as Sedgwick, Guy Pearce classic as Andy Warhol, and Hayden Christensen spot-on as Bob Dylan — or, excuse me, Folk Singer — the flick was dark, a dizzying glimpse at a wild ride that spirals quickly downward, into a sadly cliched abyss. So not exactly the kind of movie that puts one in party mode, but then, that’s kind of beside the point on the Film Festival’s opening night. It’s the annual start of 11 days of movies, movie stars, and parties that get stretched out before Santa Barbara, just waiting to be enjoyed. And I for one have no intention of missing a single bit of it. Sedgwick lived fast and died young, but I’m happy to peep fast, look young, and pace myself. Red Carpet Photos by J’Amy Brown
Most Important Annual Film Fest Critique and More
I was lucky enough to have seen a screener of Factory Girl in the run-up to the festival, in preparation for a one-on-one interview with Sienna Miller that I ended up passing to D.J. Palladino. (He did a great job on that story, so check it out here.) That meant I had no reason to see the film last night, but I did want to see the introductory comments by Roger Durling, who’s become quite the Santa Barbara icon these days. Uncommonly comfortable and “fearless” on the Arlington’s stage, Durling gave thanks to late fest boardmember Robert Hatch, who provided much support for Durling in the four years that he’s been doing the festival. Durling then brought out the film’s director George Hickenlooper and its stars Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce, among others. After some words from Hickenlooper and the ever beautiful Miller, the lights went black. Then came what anyone who’s been to the festival before eagerly anticipates: the film fest trailer, that minute-or-so clip that plays before every film in the fest. It’s a critical piece, for when it’s overbearing or poorly done, it makes you crazy halfway through the fest. (And even if it’s good, you go a little crazy from seeing it so damn much.) This year’s trailer marked a departure from the digital extravaganzas of years past, instead featuring a sultry redhead on satin-like sheets, rolling herself from fetal position to down-dog and on up. All the while, she’s being entwirled in film reel. It could be read as a metaphor of cinephiles lusting after film, or it could just be seen as a hot lady who’s almost naked. I prefer a reading of the trailer that’s somewhere in between. Altogether, it seems shorter than years past, and that’s probably the best thing. But it also seemed that perhaps the credits and sponsorships went on a little longer than normal. Though that was okay too, because The Indy‘s large logo happens to sit atop the News-Press‘ smaller logo on the same trailer page, so at least we got that going for us. I headed out of the Arlington as the trailer ended, passing a contemplative Durling on the way out. As he peered across the thousands in attendance at what is most definitely his party, Durling seemed awash in thoughtful emotion. Or maybe, like me, he was just thinking about the party. A couple hours and a small dinner at Opal later, I was walking around Paseo Nuevo to the Chapala side, where the entrance was to this years party. Once inside, I quickly ran into familiar faces, and was happy to learn that they had grapefruit juice, my favorite thing to water up the free Imperia vodka. After lots of schmoozing — including some chatting with Roger Durling, Brett Leigh Dicks, Susan Gantz, Irene Macias, Matt Wallace, Chris Meagher, Mike Takeuchi, and others — I found The Indy crowd behind one of the bars. For the next hour or so, we held court there, winding the party down and dodging the dollies full of bottles that the bar crew was moving on out for the next party. Tonight’s all about Helen Mirren, and the party in Montecito should be quite a bash. Maybe I’ll see you there.