A Preview of the Panels

For Your Verbal Consideration

Never mind the movie stars for a moment — the Tom Cruises, Will
Smiths, Sacha Baron Cohens, et al. Of the various in-person
encounters at SBIFF, some of the most intriguing banter comes from
the panel discussions, particularly the director and screenwriter
gatherings. And the panels have heated up in the last few years,
given the festival’s pre-Oscar ramp-up timing. For diehard film
nerds, the type who dive into festival mode and believe those
behind the scenes deserve greater love than they get, here’s a
chance to get a taste of the philosophical and ground-level data
from those who know. (All panels are at the Lobero Theatre, unless
otherwise noted.)


Take the Directors on Directing panel (Sat., Jan. 27, 11am): at
press time, the panel included Alejandro González (Babel) Iñárritu,
Todd (Little Children) Field — who was here a few years ago
following the release of his masterpiece In the Bedroom — and the
much-toasted team behind Little Miss Sunshine, Valerie Faris and
Jonathan Dayton. From the non-live-action realm, we get input from
Pixar’s go-to man, John Lasseter (The Incredibles, Finding

One of the festival’s perennial hot tickets is It Starts with
the Script (Sat., Jan. 27, 2pm). This forum’s popularity is based
not only on the octane of the guests, but also the rampant desire
of most Southern Californians to come up with a script all one’s
own (present company included). It’s another strong bunch of
screenwriters convening this year, with William (The Departed)
Monahan, Jason (Thank You for Smoking) Reitman, Michael (Little
Miss Sunshine) Arndt, Field again for Little Children (he adapted
the novel), Zach (Stranger than Fiction) Helm, and, for witchy
kitsch’s sake, Aline Brosh (The Devil Wears Prada) McKenna. In an
unusual double-play contender situation, Peter Morgan is also
slated to show up, on the heels of the critically respected, real
world-spun scripts for both The Queen and The Last King of

But wait, there’s more: The list of guests for the Scoring the
Film panel (Sat., Feb. 3, 2pm), so far, is largely an atmospheric
bunch, with Gustavo Santaolalla, who provided impressive ambience
for Babel, trusty moodman Mark Isham, who did the Bobby score, and
Mychael Danna, who this year scored both the lovably profane,
Little Miss Sunshine, and the sacred, The Nativity Story. More to

Producers get their 15 minutes in the sun, to mix a metaphor, in
Movers & Shakers (Sun., Jan. 28, 11am). Jay (Borat!) Roach,
Graham (The Departed) King, Laurence (Dreamgirls) Mark, Albert
(Little Children) Berger, Steve (Babel) Golin, Ron (Little Miss
Sunshine) Yerxa, and Judd Apatow from Taladega Nights: The Ballad
of Ricky Bobby (let’s hear it for this underrated comedic

Gender politics in the industry are still tilted and uneven
enough to warrant a special case, with Creative Forces: Women in
the Biz (Sat., Feb. 3, 11am). At press time, the list of
participants included Adriana Barraza, the actress from Babel,
Virginia Katz and Sharen Davis, editor and costume designer,
respectively for Dreamgirls (Davis also worked on Pursuit of
Happyness). Also on board is director Cecilia Peck, of Shut Up
& Sing fame.

Lastly, not leastly, we get the politically, environmentally
correct panel discussion Location, Location, Location (Wed., Jan.
31, 7pm, Marjorie Luke Theatre). Expect no idle chatter: the
discussion revolves around green thinking and sustainability issues
in Hollywood’s work practices, featuring the admirably earth-minded
Ed Begley Jr., along with such other strongly environmental bent
industry types as Shelley Billik, Matthew Cooper, Gary Peterson,
Amy Lemisch, Gretchen Lewotsky, and Debbie Levin.

All together, the festival’s panel discussions can offer
glimpses into the underpinnings and the hopeful future of the art
and the marketplace. Oh, and some of the visitors are not-so
secretly vying for your consideration, to quote Christopher


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