What’s Up With Film Fest

This Year’s Stellar Stars Announced

Roger Durling and Mayor Helene Schneider
Sue De Lapa

Two to Tango: Two of our own will be honored when the 25th Santa Barbara International Film Festival takes over the town February 4-14.

Sunday, February 14, will be Jeff Bridges Day, with screenings of the Santa Barbaran’s Oscar-nominated movies, including The Last Picture Show. Then he’ll sit for a Q-and-A, followed by a showing of his latest, Crazy Heart, for which he won a Golden Globes best-actor award Sunday.

Barney Brantingham

Young Santa Barbaran Jason (Juno) Reitman, Golden Globes winner for co-writing the script for Up in the Air, which he also directed, will appear in a panel discussion, where you can expect plenty of unscripted, off-the-beat comments.

As usual, Festival honcho Roger Durling is bringing a stellar assemblage of stars to town, including Sandra Bullock, recently of The Blind Side acclaim. She’ll receive the American Riviera Award on Friday, February 5 at the Arlington. Also on hand will be James Cameron, director of the mega-hit Avatar, a Golden Globe best-picture winner which has grossed over $1 billion worldwide so far and seems destined to surpass his Titanic, which grossed $1.24 billion.

He’ll get the coveted Modern Master Award, on February 6 at the Arlington. The Brits always score well during the festival, and this year we’ll see Colin Firth, star of A Single Man, who’ll be given the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award on February 13 at the Arlington.

The versatile Firth is in the midst of a brilliant career but remains unknown to many American movie-goers.

The fest kicks off at the Arlington on Thursday, February 4 with the world premier of Flying Lessons, starring Christine Lahti, the story of a 25-year-old woman forced to face relationships she left behind, flying solo through life, so to speak.

Closing night will be the world premier of Middle Men, which the SBIFF describes as being about “one of the pioneers of internet commerce as he wrestles with his morals and struggles not to drown in a sea of con-men, mobsters, drug addicts and porn stars.” (Who said computer people are boring?)

Young Victoria star Emily Blunt has been added to the Virtuoso Award recipients, joining Carey Mulligan (An Education), Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), and Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man).

But for many festival-goers, it’s the documentaries that are the red meat, and never mind the feature-movie frosting. When Durling made the lineup announcements Tuesday, January 19, at the Santa Barbara Hotel, he raved about always-controversial Oliver Stone’s South of the Border, which profiles Venezuela president Hugo Chavez.

Stone will be appearing at the Lobero showing, Durling said.

Durling also praised The Cove, a documentary about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. “Using state of the art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan, to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health,” the festival literature says.

The Cove filmmakers will receive the David Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking. Acclaimed Santa Barbara nature filmmaker Mike DeGruy will interview director Louie Psihoyos and O’Barry at the screening at the Lobero on February 10. O’Barry was the trainer for the Flipper series, DeGruy said.

More festival information is available at www.sbiff.org.


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