This morning Roger Durling announced the slogan for the 25th Santa Barbara International Film Festival: 11 Amazing Days, 10 Starry Nights.

Celebrating its silver anniversary, the festival will also be honoring a century of filmmaking in the city of Santa Barbara. Festival director Durling unveiled this year’s logo, which features the Santa Barbara Mission and iconic dolphin fountain. The head of the poster is marked with the number 25, centered on a pair of wings. (The wings are an allusion to the Flying “A” Studios which operated in Santa Barbara between 1912 and 1917.)

Among the 200 films scheduled for this year’s festival we can expect to see 18 world premières, 28 U.S. premières, and scores of foreign films representing 45 countries. The 2010 fest will in fact be bookended by two world debuts, opening with Derek Magyar’s Flying Lessons and closing with George Gallo’s Middle Men.

Flying Lessons will screen on opening night, February 4, at the historic Arlington Theatre. Filmed in Santa Barbara, Flying Lessonsfits perfectly into this year’s celebration of 100 years of filmmaking here. Directed by Derek Magyar, and featuring actors Christine Lahti, Maggie Grace, Jonathan Tucker, Cary Elwes, Joanna Cassidy, and Hal Holbrook, it is the story of a young woman learns to accept her past by learning the value of the present.

The plotline of Middle Men follows a pioneer of Internet commerce, his moral struggles, and his efforts to rise above a sea of con men, mobsters, drug addicts, and porn stars. It’s directed by George Gallow and stars Giovanni Ribisi, Luke Wilson, and James Caan. It screens February 14, the film fest’s closing night, at the Arlington Theatre.

The David Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking will be returning this year, and is being awarded to the filmmakers of The Cove. The award “celebrates not just nature film making, but environmental causes,” said Durling, “and no better film has done it that The Cove this year.” The film exposes a Japanese cover-up of dolphin abuse and threats to human health, and Durling describes it as a “terrific, terrific film.” The Cove screens at the Lobero Theatre on Wednesday, February 10. Nature filmmaker Mike DeGruy will be moderating a conversation with the director, Louie Psihoyos, following the film.

Newly added to the list of Chopin Virtuoso 2010 Award Winners is star Emily Blunt, leading lady in a new film Young Victoria, and Golden Globe nominee for best actress. Blunt is joining virtuosos Gabourey Sidibe from Precious, Saoirse Ronan from The Lovely Bones, Carey Mulligan from An Education, and Michael Stuhlbarg from A Serious Man. The awards will be presented at the Lobero Theatre on Sunday, February 7.

This year the festival will be doing a Focus on Quebec that gives a unique look at the culture. “We’re going to show close to a dozen films from Quebec,” explained Durling, “and there’s going to be a mini ‘invasion’ of filmmakers from that country.”

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Who else can we expect to see at this year’s festival? Awards will be presented to Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, and Colin Firth. Vera Farmiga Up In The Air), Peter Sarsgaard (An Education), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), and Cristoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) will be presented awards recognizing them as artists who have taken risks. Receiving the Lucky Brand Modern Master Award is James Cameron, director of the revolutionary new film Avatar.

Passes for the festival can be found on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival website, where a variety of ticket options and packages are available.


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