Roger Durling (left) and Ron Howard at the Cinema Society screening of 'Thirteen Lives.' | Credit: Santa Barbara International Film Festival

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on July 29, 2022. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at

ON the (Big) Screen

We got a real treat with this week’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival Cinema Society screening of Thirteen Lives, an incredible true story of the global effort to rescue 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a perilously flooded cave during a monsoon without food, water, or diving equipment.

I was on the edge of my seat the whole time — both as a mom and as a slightly claustrophobic person. The cave-diving scenes are incredible!

After the screening, director Ron Howard spoke with Roger Durling about the intensity of his experiences making the film. I was particularly struck by Howard’s comments about all the things he’s learned from making both documentaries (The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, We Feed People) and films based on real events (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) and how he incorporates improved methods into each new movie he makes. I guess even Academy Award–winning directors always have something new to learn!

Speaking of learning: As if you need another reason to go see Jordan Peele’s new feature Nope (in theaters now), it’s the first film to participate in Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s California Below-the-Line Traineeship launched by NBCUniversal, which is a new program that provides on-set experience and mentorship behind the camera for “promising individuals from historically excluded backgrounds.” Hallelujah!

And speaking of hallelujah, don’t miss Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen documentary about the origins of his haunting song, which is currently playing at the Riviera Theater. Here’s Joe Woodard’s review.

ON the Air

Spencer Barnitz (right) and Brad Nack in The Tan (my personal favorite Santa Barbara band at the time) circa 1980s. | Credit: Courtesy

Molly McAnany’s Indy podcast started out good and just keeps getting better. Don’t miss her great all-things-musically-considered chat with Spencer Barnitz of Spencer the Gardener. It’s a terrific companion to Joe Woodard’s awesome cover story last week.

“Creativity to me is giving yourself permission to play,” says Santa Barbara speaking and storytelling strategist Kymberlee Weil. She interviews creative communicators from a variety of backgrounds on her podcast Storytelling School, offering loads of great takeaways for engaging your audience and getting your message out there. It’s definitely worth a listen.

ON the (Small) Screen

Love Island, Goleta style? (L-R): Felipe Gomez, Jesse Bray, Valerie Bragg, Sereniti Scott, Andy Voyen, Sydney Paight, Courtney Boerner, Zeta Morrison, Deb Chubb, and Timmy Pandolfi. | Credit: Casey Durkin / Peacock

The Olympics is the only athletic competition show that gets more screen time at my house than Dancing with the Stars, so I was excited to read on real estate site that retired Olympic figure skater and Dancing with the Stars alum Evan Lysacek and his Thai heiress wife, Dang Bodiratnangkura, recently bought a $9.8 million home in Montecito’s Hedgerow district. I’m keeping my eye out for them. Also on Dirt, comedian Conan O’Brien recently put his oceanfront Carpinteria pad on the market. Hoping that won’t pique the interest of the producers of Love Island, the raunchy reality show currently filming at Dos Pueblos Ranch. If you haven’t read Jean Yamamura’s story, you don’t want to miss this doozy!

ON the Stage

Nine Inch Nails comes to the Santa Barbara Bowl September 13. | Credit: Courtesy

The Santa Barbara Bowl is on fire this season; they recently announced that Nine Inch Nails is coming on September 13, helping to round out an already stacked marquee of great shows. In case you missed it, last month Cheryl Crabtree had a great story about the Bowl’s COVID Compliance Team and the volunteers who work hard to keep us all safe so the music plays on.

The free outdoor concerts at Chase Palm Park end this week, but Goleta is still going strong, with Tuesday night shows from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Stow House, including Tony Ybarra on August 2, King Bee on August 9, and Donna Green & The Roadhouse Daddies on August 16.

Live music and vineyards are always a great pairing. Check out Robyn Wise’s roundup of great spots for music in the vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. Among the highlights is Nick Schaadt Quartet, performing the music of Herbie Hancock as part of Kessler-Haak winery’s “Jazz in the Vines” concert series, on August 13 and September 24. Also check out ’80s cover band The Molly Ringwald Project on August 6 at Presqu’ile. And if you don’t want to make the drive — or you love them so much you want to see them twice — they’ll be at SOhO on August 12.

Also worth noting on the SOhO calendar is the always entertaining Tina Schlieske & The Graceland Exiles on July 30, with special guest Sister Laura.

On the theatrical front, I’m looking forward to checking out the Alcazar Ensemble’s Second Annual Summer Comedy Series of seven one-act plays August 4-7 at the Alcazar Theater in Carpinteria. It should be a hoot.

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ON the Page

Celebration of the appointment of 2022 Youth Poet Ambassador Kundai Chikowero (lower right) and 2022 Youth Poet Laureate Madeline Miller (lower left) at the Santa Barbara City Hall on July 19. | Credit: Rod Rolle

Congratulations to Madeline Miller, Santa Barbara County’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, and Kundai Chikowero, the county’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador. Both were inducted last week. Click here to read some of their work.

Groundbreaking winery owner Iris Rideau has a fascinating new book about her life, From WHITE to BLACK: One Life Between Two Worlds. Best known around here for her Santa Ynez Valley winery, the charmingly Cajun-spiced Rideau Vineyard, the book is an inspiring and eye-opening tale of overcoming the odds. Vanessa Vin has a great story here.

ON the Walls

“Santa Ynez Mountains,” by Edward Willis Hicks. | Credit: Courtesy Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Take a Hike, Save the World, indeed. This visual journey through historic photographic and fine art as seen by artists and photographers is worth a visit to Santa Barbara Historical Museum. The exhibition is part of the countywide museum initiative “Impact: Climate Change & the Urgency of Now” — an absolutely worthy endeavor. Admission to the museum is free. Details are here.

Finding Beauty in Structure: Works of Ken Jewesson is on view at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art through August 6. Featuring more than 30 pieces of art from Jewesson’s long career as a ceramic designer, printmaker, painter, draftsman, collage artist, and jewelry maker, he was among a group of avant-garde artists to introduce modernism to Santa Barbara.

ON the Calendar

“Le Lézard aux Plumes d’Or IV, 1971,” by Joan Miró, from the contemporary art collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Fans of the great Catalan artist Joan Miró won’t want to miss “Joan Miró in Time and Space,” an Art Matters Lecture with Charles Palermo at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on Thursday, August 4, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Palermo, a professor of art history at The College of William and Mary (fun fact: This school, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and the ninth-oldest in the English-speaking world), offers readings of works in the hope of showing how Miró implies movement and scale in his works. Tickets are available here.

For a complete calendar of events this week and beyond, visit

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