Sex • Drama • Environmental Crises • Forbidden (and Unforbidden) Love • Movie Stars on the Red Carpet: All coming to a theater near you, starting today!

Yep, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicks off today, Thursday, January 24, through Sunday, February 3. Movie gems from around the world and actors and directors you never heard of but whose names you will know by the time the fest is over. I’ve gone blind poring over the lineup of flicks, and although they all sound intriguing, I’ve only got space for a few that caught my eye. (See below.)

Barney Brantingham

Film buffs and other cognoscenti can get clued in to the inside story of Hollywood movie-making at the panel lineups of directors and writers (Sat., Jan. 26) and of Women in the Biz and producers (Sat., Feb. 2).

Somehow, festival honcho Roger Durling has snagged top stars to walk the red carpet and be grilled (lightly) at the Arlington, including Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) on Saturday, January 26. I’m reading Team of Rivals, the book on which the film was partly based, by Pulitzer-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s over 900 pages long (how many of you have read it?), but I’m hoping to finish by Saturday. (Ha!)

Leo DeCaprio has cancelled out on his scheduled February 1 tribute due to “scheduling conflicts.” But the Film Festival has announced that writer-director-producer-actor Quentin Tarantino has been added to the lineup and will receive the American Riviera Award at the Arlington on Wednesday, January 30.

Other stars sitting for interviews: Ben Affleck on Friday, January 25; Amy Adams on Thursday, January 31 and Jennifer Lawrence on Saturday, February 2. Going by the current Vanity Fair piece on Lawrence, she is one ditsy chick who should be good for a lot of laughs when Durling gets her onstage.

Now, to address what I consider the meat of the festival, I’ll alternate between important and fascinating films about saving the elephants, and the like, and those that address the timeless question, “Will love last overnight?”

If you’d ever met Santa Barbaran Mike deGruy, you’d have loved the guy. Smile as wide as the outdoors he loved. A great nature filmmaker. Tragically, deGruy was killed in a helicopter crash a year ago. But he left a legacy of wonderful films, some of which will be shown during the festival, which he was a major part of for so long: Incredible Suckers, The Octopus Show, Hawaii: Islands of the Fire Goddess, and Tempest of the Deep.

One of the most eagerly awaited films is No (Chile/France/U.S.A.), about an ad executive who comes up with a campaign to defeat dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum. Director Pablo Larraín and star Gael García Bernal will attend the screening. It’s an Oscar nominee and won a top award at Cannes.

In the illicit-love department, A Royal Affair (Czech/Denmark/Sweden) tells the true story of court intrigue in Denmark. Hot blood in a cold country.

Elephant Whisperer (Iceland) is a documentary about a woman’s campaign to save abused pachyderms in Thailand. Paired with The Ivory Crisis, poaching of elephants for their tusks. What kind of people would do this? And buy ivory?

An Awkward Sexual Adventure (Canada), in which a lousy lover makes a deal with a hooker: If she’ll teach him the art of sex, he’ll help her deal with a mountain of debt.

A guy in Homer, Alaska, sells his home, buys an old fishing boat, and sets off for adventure in Alaska Sessions: Surfing the Last Frontier (Australia).

Greenwich Village (Canada) is an affectionate homage to the singers and songwriters who brought music to New York way back when, including Carly Simon, Judy Collins, and Kris Kristofferson.

The Night Parade (France), set in Paris at night, by French director Géraldine Maillet. A man and a woman meet. Will love last?

Santa Barbara County’s scenic north county is the focus of writer/producer Michael Love’s Santa Ynez River Wilderness (U.S.A.).

Many of us have Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki gathering dust on our bookshelves, chronicling his epic balsa-wood raft trip across the Pacific. The film Kon-Tiki (U.K./Norway/Denmark) dramatically recounts the 1947 voyage. An Oscar nominee.

Discovering Mavericks (U.S.A.) takes a look at California’s big-wave mecca, Mavericks, notorious for its sharks, thrills, and death.

Foodies should enjoy The Chef at the Little Washington (U.S.A.), a documentary about Patrick O’Connell’s famed restaurant.

A Year in Burgundy (U.S.A.) follows a half-dozen winemakers for a year.

For info on these and other films, go to

EAT, HELP HAITI: Renato Moiso, owner of Via Maestra 42 Italian Restaurant, invites the public to a fundraising lunch benefiting Grace Children’s Hospital in Haiti on Sunday, January 27. Lunch is $25 ($10 for children 10 and under). Renato is providing all the food, and all proceeds will go to the hospital. First United Methodist Church, Anapamu and Garden streets, 11:30 a.m.-

3 p.m. Call 963-3579 for reservations.


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