Roger Durling and Mackenzie Foy at the 2016 SBIFF opening night party
Shannon Kelley

The 31st annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicked off last night, marked by the sweep of searchlights across frigid winter sky, and everyone’s favorite Man in Black taking the stage at the Arlington. But wait, what’s this? Festival Director Roger Durling was… wearing white? (What does it mean?)

An enthused Mayor Helene Schneider welcomed the crowd—including a cohort from Santa Barbara sister city Dingle, Ireland—and Durling, as has become tradition, told us to take a minute to get to know our neighbors. He then introduced the evening’s film, The Little Prince, and welcomed director Mark Osborne and stars Mackenzie Foy and S.B. native dude Jeff Bridges to the stage. The movie, based on the book some of us may have attempted/pretended to read in high school French class, absolutely charmed, and might have proven more effective in the getting-to-know-your-neighbor exercise than Roger’s invitation, as the tears—and subsequent desperate requests for Kleenex—were flowing.

The sniffles subsided quickly, though; no sentimental warm-fuzzies would keep these peeps from S.B.’s most legendary block party. The great migration deposited us at Paseo Nuevo, decked out in full festival regalia and packed with peeps utilizing every tool at their disposal (i.e., heating lamps, dance floors, booze) to keep the chill at bay. As befitted an after party for a movie whose theme is that growing up isn’t the problem; forgetting the wonder of childhood is, the grown-ups in attendance partied like kids… or at least like grown-ups who’d forgotten that the details of their grown-up lives would be there to greet them come morning. (Except, perhaps, for those who took part in the 1 a.m. run on the Illy coffee stand, stuffing their pockets with canned espressos in anticipation of the next day’s rude awakening.)

And another film festival is officially upon us… Here’s to good times, great films, childlike wonder, and strong espresso.


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