I would like to report to your readers my experience when I tried to go and see the SBIFF movie No at the Lobero yesterday. The scene was chaotic to say the least. I had a mini-pak and saw a sign saying “Mini-Pak and general public form line here.” I stood there for about 10 minutes, only to realize that I had to stand in another line to obtain a laminated card (with a large “Q”) with a number: In other words, you have to stand in a line to stand in another line. After obtaining the Q card, I then should have joined another line but it was not at all clear where this line was going to be as the whole Lobero forecourt was completely packed with people, some general public, some mini-pak holders, and many just there to look at the celebrities on the red carpet. I asked two volunteers but they gave me conflicting directions, one telling me to stand “there,” one to stand “here.” One even directed me to another line, only for me to find out that I was standing in the line that I had already been in. I was so frustrated that I decided to leave.
Why can’t people just form one line as we do for regular movies until tickets are sold out? Also, what is the point of a mini-pak? We pay $56 for a mini-pak but it is not a ticket and it does not even give the holder any advantage over not having one, as mini-pak holders are in the same line as those who do not have one. It would be quite possible for someone to buy a mini-pak and never get to see any movie at all. –Giovanni Maciocia, Santa Barbara
I was standing in line for almost two hours to get into Jackie at 2:00 p.m. In the meantime, I saw a friend who has a movie in the festival and was also going to see Jackie. He said he would save me a seat. After a half hour I returned to the theater and got in line according to my Q number (which was low), and a few minutes later told that there were no more seats available; only platinum pass holders could try to find a seat. I asked if I could go in to see if my friend was saving my seat. I was told to wait. By the time I was let into the theater my friend was told they weren’t letting in any more regular pass holders, and the seat was taken by a platinum pass holder.
I fear that our festival has become an elitist affair. This is supposed to be for the community, not just for the wealthy who can afford a platinum pass. There needs to be a balance struck between those who have arranged their day to allow almost two hours for the process of seeing a movie, and those that can go in because they paid a premium. A film festival serves the community who lives and pays taxes to support such events. I think fairness needs to be examined in thinking about next year’s festival. – Gianni Cicinelli, Santa Barbara
I used to enjoy seeing the local faces in line for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Now, it almost seems that the people who have the SBIFF platinum passes are poised to exhibit their luck, and those with just numbers twinge to the point of envy. They waited patiently just to be cut for the chance to see a film they have stood in line for, for hours.
I think this kind of teasing situation has discouraged many locals from going to many of the SBIFF showings. I guess it boils down to who can and who cannot afford the “P” passes; and if one can’t afford it, stand aside or go home. I went home.
Maybe SBIFF might think about putting all those platinum-pass holders in one night at one theater – but then again, maybe half the fun of SBIFF is seeing platinum holders gliding by those standing and waiting in line for hours. SBIFF, do something about this for next year. – Jodi Saenger, Santa Barbara