The Story of Sarah

Plus: Oprah Moves Here, Haggis Is Found Here, the Vienna Philharmonic Visits, and Antelopes Are Free

FILM PREMIERE: I’ll never forget Sarah.

She’s the brave 10-year-old heroine of Sarah’s Key, a 2007 novel and now the opening-night movie of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on January 27, 2011.

I’ve just finished Tatiana de Rosnay’s powerful novel about a gutsy girl who fought to survive the infamous July 1942 roundup of Jewish men, women, and children in Paris. It’s also the story of an American-born journalist (played by Kristin Scott Thomas in the film) who, more than 60 years later, set out to discover what happened to Sarah.

Barney Brantingham

The July 16, 1942, roundup of 13,152 people jammed into the Vélodrome d’Hiver was a horrible event, carried out, shockingly, by the French police themselves against French citizens. The Jews were then sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Of her novel, Rosnay said, “This is not a historical work and has no intention of being so. It is my tribute to the children … The children who never came back. And the ones who survived to tell.”

It’s also a bitter reminder not just of man’s inhumanity to man, but of how in times of war, we can turn against neighbors of a different race or religion, or just avert our eyes from what is happening, look the other way. The book ends in contemporary Paris on a peaceful note. The Santa Barbara showing is a U.S. premiere.

OFF-ROAD OUTLAWS: That’s how conservationist/protectionist Los Padres ForestWatch refers to motorized trespassing. The worst place, where the destructo-derby is doing the most damage to hillsides and dales, is off West Camino Cielo, ForestWatch notes. These illegal moto-trails also hinder recovery of areas ravaged by the Gap Fire of 2008. On a happier note, ForestWatch volunteers removed more than two miles of abandoned fencing from the Carrizo Plain, thereby “giving pronghorn antelope the freedom to roam.”

BANKING ON A SPLIT: If you own 100 shares of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust stock, you’ll get one share in return on December 28. But it’ll be worth 100 times the pre-split market price. So if the troubled stock is selling at, say, 25 cents, the new stock will be worth $25. The so-called reverse stock split will keep the Nasdaq exchange from de-listing parent Pacific Capital Bancorp — NASDAQ doesn’t want to mess around with penny stocks — and also make stock more attractive to investors.

PLAY IT AGAIN: If ever an area production cried out for an extended run, it’s It Had to Be You, which had its last laughs — and tears — last weekend at Center Stage Theater. Tiffany Story and Sean O’Shea were reprising the roles they played at the Circle Bar B Ranch Dinner Theatre a year or so ago. It’s Christmas Eve, and Tiffany’s Theda Blau is ever so needy, and Sean’s Vito Pignoli isn’t interested — or is he? On Saturday night, authors Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor, who were in the audience, gave the production a thumbs-up.

ABOVE S.B.: While Sam Tyler was unveiling the Above Santa Barbara documentary at the Lobero the other night, someone in the audience asked how he happened to get involved in the film. “I was looking for a project where I wouldn’t get sued by Wendy McCaw,” Tyler cracked. Actually, the Santa Barbara News-Press owner never filed suit against the maker of Citizen McCaw, a graphic account of the paper’s 2006 meltdown. Above Santa Barbara, a chopper’s-eye view of the county, may be shown at the Arlington, with a companion piece about Yellowstone National Park. DVDs are available. Also in the planning: a bird’s-eye view of Carmel and the rest of Monterey County.

MUSIC FROM VIENNA: In Austria, the waiting list for subscriptions to Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra concerts is six years, and 13 years for weekend nights. But thanks to UCSB’s Arts & Lectures and CAMA, there’s no waiting list for seats at the orchestra’s eagerly awaited concert at the Granada on March 1, 2011.

OPRAH MOVING: Oprah Winfrey says she’s moving full-time to her 42-acre spread off East Valley Road next spring. This woman, who grew up dirt-poor and abused, is now worth $2.7 billion, according to Forbes. In interviews, she said she’s not a lesbian, contrary to rumors; that Gayle King is just a good friend and that she and her longtime fiancé Stedman Graham still haven’t decided to tie the knot. No kids, but at 56, she hasn’t ruled out adoption.

HAGGIS AND ME: I haven’t found too many people on this side of the pond who can stand the taste or even the smell of that ancient Scottish dish, haggis. Traditionally, lamb heart, liver, and other innards, plus oatmeal, pork, onions, and all kinds of other ingredients are cooked in the maw, or stomach, of a sheep. I was just talking to Sue about how I longed for a bite when we walked into Angela Torin’s new Hampstead Village shop in La Arcada downtown mall, right here in Santa Barbara. Lo and behold, we spied cans of haggis on the shelf and quickly snapped up a couple. We plan to serve some at our next single malt tasting — for those who have the stomach for it, that is.


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