It’s a well know fact that Santa Barbara, California, is hailed as the American Riviera, as well as a great escape; moreover, every winter it is the esteemed location for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. No doubt the 28th SBIFF was the best ever with 13 Oscar nominees tributed or participating. Record crowds packed this illustrious seaside resort for premieres, tributes, films, parties, panel discussions and film feasting, which filled 11 glorious festival days. Everyone was excited about visionary Ben Affleck, the season’s multi-award winner for “Argo” as Santa Barbara named him MODERN MASTER honoree.
Santa Barbara is an amazing city that gears up for its annual SBIFF beginning with festival banners flying along the main thoroughfare State Street; 600 volunteers prepared to launch the festival and its events and opening night marks the first red carpet turn out at the historic Arlington Theatre with spotlights flashing downtown.
The SBIFF is in the city spotlight as the marquee dazzles, paparazzi cameras flash and fans and filmmakers turn out to celebrate the 2013 festival. Opening night was the key to the festival momentum with welcoming remarks from Doug Stone, Chairman of the Board and Festival Director Roger Durling, who has contributed to the powerful recognition of the SBIFF during his 10 years at the helm. Noteworthy, Lynda.com, the festival sponsors Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin make it all happen. Doug Stone has remarked that the SBIFF has made a significant impact on the film industry.First time director Henry Alex Rubin introduced his new film “Disconnect” and cast members. The tradition tented opening night party filled the Paseo Neuvo shopping district with food and wine tastings, music, dancing and festival excitement with décor from the film “The Shining.”
Let the tributes begin….for actor, Academy Award winner Ben Affleck, this year was his year to shine. His film “Argo,” a captivating thriller and story of how a CIA agent poses as a filmmaker to help free American hostages in Iran escape in 1979. He moved from actor to director in the course of the film keeping the sense of truth of the story. It has received raves since it was premièred at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2012 and now on to multi-awards from Golden Globe, Producers Award to BAFTA to Academy Award, Affleck is the man of the hour and the Modern Master of the SBIFF, who claimed it is,” probably a once in a lifetime experience for me.” Film critic Leonard Maltin traversed Affleck’s career. He was surely celebrated in Santa Barbara; on hand his longtime friend, Matt Damon, presented this award with accolades.
In a 90-minute tribute, legendary screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino took center stage to receive the AMERICAN RIVIERA AWARD, as a fully packedaudience listened intensely to the makings of the genius filmmaker’s journey. He is a man passionate about his craft with honors for his latest script “Django Unchained; he opened up to Los Angeles Times film writer and interviewer Jim Horn and praised the actors, who have brought his characters to life. Audience reaction to clips of his work on “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill 1 & 2”,“Inglorious Basterds” and others, reaffirms the huge respect for his work, even though Tarantino opted to go low key with no red carpet flash. We could well observe that Tarantino was touched by the award and Santa Barbara’s warm reception for his work.
Steven Spielberg’s exceptional film “Lincoln” 2012 was portrayed by extraordinary actor Daniel Day Lewis, two-time Oscar winner with an accomplished film career. He was honored by the SBIFF with the MONTECITO AWARD for his prolific career and vivid portray of Lincoln and the steps he took to pass the 13th Amendment. The son of an English Poet Laureate, this fine actor seemed shy, yet he opened up during an intimate interview and intrigued the audience. His co-star Sally Field presented the coveted award with praise and admiration. The film programming for the SBIFF is always diverse and has something for everyone’s tastes. At any time of the day 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. the crowds line up at The Metro Theatre for thrillers like “The Body,” comedies like “Blumenthal,” documentaries and foreign triumphs like “A Royal Affair” and “Barbara”, shorts, animation and more. This festival promotes nature films, Social Justice films, Student Films 10-10-10.
Industry panels are a big attraction, The Director’s Panel represented the top director’s films up for awards and the Movers and Shakers bring out the major producers, while The Women’s Panel is an inspiration to those women looking to succeed in the film business. All participants have a story and depict their journey to reaching their achievements.
SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling was talking about Amy Adams, when he declared, “She embodies what the CINEMA VANGUARD award is about and after her performance in “The Master,” the time has come to recognize her talent and versatility.” Four time Academy Award nominee was tributed for taking risks as so many characters that we memorable. She is a small town gal from Colorado, who made good and tells, “ I hope I’m just getting going.” Amy Adams received her award from her director/writer of “The Master” Paul Thomas Anderson wit co-star Joaquin Phoenix in the audience to honor her.
Fans turned out to see this year’s popular star Jennifer Lawrence, who has won many awards this season. Younger fans still loved “The Hunger Games” and her part as Katness, the fierce survivor. She spent time chatting and signed autographs before receiving her award for PERFORMER OF THE YEAR for “Silver Linings Playbook” from David O. Russell, the film’s director. She has her own star power. Screen Cuisine and Film Feast Pairing films with the city’s Film Feast is a great way to explore Santa Barbara. It’s the pleasure of food and drink, dining with award winning cuisine with fixe prix 3 or 4 course meals. The choice is a variety of 25 restaurants joined with tasting rooms and lounges, you can try many. With four film districts, it’s easy to try restaurants near target film venues for lunch and dinner. Whatever you savor from tacos to seafood, Italian or French
and American or continental eateries from harbor to downtown and up town, it’s a value and a treat in eat in style. There are hotels that have film room packages, too. Mix and match from Film Pass to Film Feast-what a way to go. Screen Cuisine is a new category this year with films like “A Year in Burgundy.” “Family Meals,” “Spinning Plates”- the Audience Choice Winner.
Film Feast at the Wine Cask This is how it works: Departing from the Santa Barbara Hotel – SBIFF hub, downtown State Street, it’s a short walk to swank Wine Cask Restaurant, ( http://www.winecask.com), located in a historic home of a Santa Barbara first family for a lavish 3 course lunch of Local Organic Roots Salad, Poached Pacific Whitefish paired with local wines, followed by dessert of pairing Wines & Chocolates at Grassini Family Vineyards (www.grassinifamilyvineyards.com) in the adjacent building. Articondo Bordeaux Blend with Madagascar 67% dark chocolate, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon with hand dipped Hispaniola 60% dark chocolate and my favorite Estate Sauvignon Blanc Reserve with milk chocolate ganache in a chocolate turtle. This was a tasting to devour……must do this. Moving on to the movies “Spinning Plates” depicted 3 USA restaurants from high end to family run. Everyone was talking about this unique film. Later in the day, dinner was divine at The Arlington Tavern (WWW.ARLINGTONTAVERN.COM) with their fish speciality of the day. We finished just in time to walk across the street to The Arlington Theatre for the VIRTUOSOS AWARDS.
Tasting at the Grassini Family Vineyards tasting room These performers were the ones recognized for breakthrough erformances in 2012, they were Ann Dowd (“Compliance”), Omar Sy (“The Intouchables” from France), Elle Fanning (“Ginger and Rosa”), Ezra Miller (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), Eddie Redmayne (“Les Miserables”) and nine year old, youngest
Academy Award nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”). The Virtuosos received their awards from Benh Zeitlin, Director of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
Film feast at Olio E Limone The next day was another Film Feast meal; dining at the incredible Olio E Limone,(www.olioelimone.com), which was celebrating 100 years of Julia Child, featuring many of her favorite dishes featured. It reminded me that I was in attendance at Julia Child’s 90th Birthday in Marina del Rey, California, where 15 chefs prepared each course with love for dear Julia. My courses were: #1 Insalate of pears & baby greens & gorgonzola cheese #2 Filetto di Branzino/stripped bass filet & spinach #3 dessert was Tiramisu-I continually recommend this restaurant. You can’t forget it! Their Olio Pizzeria is an in-spot. The SBIFF welcomes more than 70,000 visitors; it’s the place to be and to see new films. The weather is pleasant and the locals are friendly. The SBIFF closed with the premiere of “Wasteland” by writer/director Rowan Athale. Visitors to Santa Barbara must stop by Mission Santa Barbara, The Historic Court House and The Harbor.
Find out about the festival, films and the winners at http://www.sbiff.org.
Film Feast for lodging and dining at http://www.SBFilmFeast.com.
Everything about Santa Barbara at http://www.santabarbara.com.