Extra Inclusive

Santa Barbara Filmmakers Big at Fest

When it comes to showing the work of local filmmakers, the Santa
Barbara International Film Festival has to be the most inclusive
festival in the world. More than 30 locally made films will be
shown this year, right alongside the Hollywood films and the glitzy
tributes to the big stars. If you know anything about film
festivals, you know that this is not ordinarily how things are
done. Not only do these films get seen on the big screen, they also
get the cachet that comes with being an “official selection” in a
major festival.

All of this is due to film fest creative director Roger Durling,
who secured two additional venues this year (the Marjorie Luke and
Center Stage) just to handle all these films. As one of four “guest
directors” helping Durling to program the ’06 festival, I am in
charge of the Santa Barbara Filmmakers section and To the Maxxx, a
sidebar of extreme sports films, most of which are also by S.B.
directors (see page 35).

Of the 13 full-length S.B. films we are presenting this year,
only two are narrative films. The rest are documentaries, or, in
another bout of unprecedented Film Festival innovation, an art
installation film. In addition, some of the most daring and
accomplished Santa Barbara films on view this year are short

Three of the full-length selections come out of UCSB. Video
Portraits of Survival is a compilation of six portraits of
Holocaust survivors who live in Santa Barbara. The vignettes were
produced by students of UCSB Film Studies Chair Janet Walker — a
must-see. Sociologist Kum Kum Bhavnani weighs in with The Shape of
Water, a 70-minute documentary that tells the stories of five women
striving to overcome political, social, and economic struggles.
Nobel-winning physicist Walter Kohn is a longtime proponent of
solar energy, and he is the executive producer of The Power of the
Sun, an hour-long advocacy film narrated by John Cleese.

Another advocacy project, Building Green, was developed by actor
Kevin Contreras and producer Michael Matioli. It’s actually two
pilot shows for a television series about how to build in
environmentally responsible ways. My film DreamTending is a
documentary about the innovative work being done with dreams by
Santa Barbara’s dream specialist, Dr. Stephen Aizenstat. Steve is
president of the Pacifica Graduate Institute, and he is known far
and wide to adherents of depth psychology. The film includes
appearances by James Hillman, Robert Johnson, Marion Woodman, and
Michael Meade. In Who Needs Sleep? celebrated cinematographer
Haskell Wexler (the Santa Barbaran with the most Oscars) bites the
hand that feeds him by examining the toll that long film shoots
take on crew members. It comes here direct from its premiere at

I’m proud to have another Jack Johnson film to offer this year.
A Weekend at the Greek: Jack Johnson and Friends presents an
endearing portrait of our local troubadour, cutting between live
concert footage and behind-the-scenes interviews. Jack’s buddy
Emmett Malloy directed this instant classic.

Personal passion plays a strong role in two other documentaries
that will be screened. In Lost in the Shadows, filmmaker Michael
Colin embarks on a tender quest to find out what happened to his
father, who was last heard from when he was in Cuba during the
Castro revolution. Between Iraq and A Hard Place is an even-handed
and touching look at what the Iraq war has cost soldiers who are
making the transition back into civilian life. It was
professionally produced by the Pratt brothers, and it’s a must-see.
It will be presented with Caught in the Crossfire, a 20-minute
short produced by Santa Barbara’s Mark Manning from unbelievable
footage he personally shot in Falluja.

Our two narrative films focus on secrets held too long. For The
Uniform Motion of Folly, television writer Jeanne Davis has
directed her own script about a family trying to find identity and
closure after the death of their father. All casting and shooting
was done in Santa Barbara, and the cast includes well-known child
actors Oliver and Morgan Davis. Leave It to Chance is a smart
romantic comedy directed by San Luis Obispo’s Berand Badion.

The package called “Santa Barbara Shorts” represents the apex of
South Coast film product. The four films on the bill include The
Night of the Falcon, a 17-minute black-and-white film written and
directed by Ted Mills. It’s a revelatory and hilarious look at what
really happens during the making of a film. Glynn Beard, who holds
the honor of having the most films in the festival of any local,
brings us another fascinating film this year, Exit, which goes way
out on a limb in its icy exploration of the corporate mind-set, and
then turns around and hits us right in the heart. Transfer punches
out 22 minutes of high-energy action, riffing on everyone from
Tarantino to Starsky and Hutch as it explores a network of
underworld figures tied together by their temporary ownership of a
cigarette lighter. It’s a very hot, hilarious movie. Finally, Sense
Memory is an honest, probing, and non-clichéd look at the
generational effects of alcoholism, and features an ensemble of
recognizable Santa Barbara thespians.

1 Dance 2 Sea is a video installation piece about the ocean
created by filmmaker Robin Bisio and New York artist Roseanne
Livingston. Their homage to Santa Barbara’s relationship with the
sea will be on display continuously February 4 and 5 at

“Santa Barbara’s Student Shorts” are all wonderfully
entertaining films. Anthony in the Key of B is by a 16-year-old
director — and it’s a musical! In a similar vein, Hero of the Game
looks at schoolyard politics and features a bunch of Santa Barbara
schoolkids. Dedication is a three-minute exploration of vanity from
Leela Ross, who does for film what Cindy Sherman did for
photography. Mocos in Revolt is a funny mockumentary from some UCSB
students about rebels who will look anywhere for a cause. Firm is a
tight, high-concept heist film. We also have a collection of three
short docs, titled “S.B. Short Docs.” The featured doc, and one of
the best in the entire festival, is Perspectives, a 27-minute film
by student director Jeremy Guy about men who feed their families by
collecting recyclables from the trash bins of wealthy UCSB
students. Poignant and heartbreaking, Perspectives is one of those
great festival finds — a perfect little film. Also in the
collection are Ellwood, about the fight to save the Ellwood Mesa,
and La Conchita Disaster, which chronicles the human and political
fallot of the La Conchita mudslide


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