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My Breakfast with the Filmmakers

Meeting Directors and More at Annual SBIFF Morning Gathering


When Santa Barbaran Louise Palanker was young, her favorite band was The Cowsills, a mom and her kids. “They were teen idols,” says Palanker. Then the band imploded due to family disputes.

But before that, they had four hits, she told me at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s filmmakers’ breakfast Saturday at the Canary Hotel.

Louise Palanker of <em>Family Band: The Cowsills Story</em>
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Louise Palanker of Family Band: The Cowsills Story

Years after the members went their own ways, they reformed the Cowsills, and Palanker wandered into a spot in Ventura and found them. She gradually got interested in making a film about them, with new and archival material.

“I kept asking,” said Palanker of her quest to film them, and she ended up going to Boston with them when they were invited to sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park. Now after seven years of work, The Family Band: The Cowsills Story, will be screened Friday, February 3, at 7:20 p.m. at the Metro theater.

Aighleann McKiernan and Josh Posner of <em>Victoria's Turn</em>
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Aighleann McKiernan and Josh Posner of Victoria’s Turn

Aighleann McKiernan, niece of Santa Barbara photojournalist Kevin McKiernan, stars in an eight-minute short (a lot of work went into those minutes) called Victoria’s Turn. It will be screened Monday, January 30, at 10 a.m. at the Museum of Art and Friday, February 3 at the Metro. Made with her coproducer-husband Josh Posner, it’s about a wealthy young woman who loses everything in the 1929 crash, then has to work her way back up.

Coley Sohn of <em>Sassy Pants</em>
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Coley Sohn of Sassy Pants

Sassy Pants is “a dark, quirky coming-of-age story,” according to writer-director Coley Sohn. The main character, played by Ashley Rickards of the TV series Awkward, has a “dead-beat gay dad,” Sohn told me. It plays Wednesday, February 1, at 8 a.m. and Saturday, February 4, both at the Metro.

Aaron Viles, Bryan Hopkins, and George Barisich of <em>Dirty Energy</em>
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Aaron Viles, Bryan Hopkins, and George Barisich of Dirty Energy

About the most colorful person at the breakfast was a Louisiana shrimper named George Barisich, who appears in the oil-soaked documentary Dirty Energy: Is This the Beginning or the End? It will be screened Tuesday, January 31 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, February 1, at 4:40 p.m., both at the Metro. Aaron Viles appears in the film along with Barisich. Bryan Hopkins is the director.

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