Monday, February 04, 2008

The Film Fest Wrap, My Fifty Cents Worth

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival concluded last night with a showing of Giuseppe Tornatore's An Unknown Woman.

It's a film that won the the Italian Oscar, found a distributor at the Cannes film festival and is set for U.S. release in late March of this year.

Frankly, it's not a film that I liked, although there was no shortage of people who walked out of the Arlington last night disagreeing with me.

Not only was it not a good story I thought it was far too complicated. However, film fest volunteer Jim Balter put it at the top of his film fest list. Local attorney Rob Egenolf seemed to like it as well.

It was certainly a well made film but man, that plot line which centers around a violently abused and exploited woman searching for the child that she brought into the world. I did not walk out of the theater feeling entertained. Besides, it's in Italian with English subtitles.

* * *

If the spot you were assigned to on the press line Saturday night wasn't near the front of the line, you didn't stand much of a chance of getting a decent picture of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They swept by my position towards the end of the line so fast, I didn't get any pictures of them.

The prize for best photo of the two snapped by those of us near the end of the line goes to Felicia Tomasko who blogs over at one of the film fest's sites.

The Indy's Paul Wellman, who was closer to the front of the line, managed to get a number of shots of Brangelina.

There are more photos from Saturday night's festivities here.

My best photos from the red carpet events are posted on my photoblog.

The consensus seems to be that Roger Durling has outdone himself this year in attracting star power to the festival. With a line-up that included, Cate Blanchett, Jolie, Julie Christie and the laconic Tommy Lee Jones, he will be hard pressed to outdo himself next year.

Roger at the beginning and at the end of the festival.

For what it's worth, here's my wish list of who I would like to see honored at the film fest next year.

Scarlett Johansson

Halle Berry

Meryl Streep

And for Guest Director: Clint Eastwood.

* * *

Best speech of the festival. Ryan Gosling who said: "As actors we get to take all of the credit for everyone else's hard work. We didn't write the script, we didn't direct it. And we sure didn't put up the money to make it."

Scariest clip used in a tribute: The one from the elderly astronaut movie Space Cowboys showing the bare butts of Tommy Lee Jones and the rest of his "flight crew."

Best film at the festival: I didn't see it but Julie Ramos of the KTYD morning show told me that her favorite was Beautiful Bitch. A number of other people I talked to over the course of the festival agreed.

* * *

Sunday afternoon I was at the Marjorie Luke Theater to watch the 10-10-10 student film competition. Ten films (actually only nine this year) made by local high school and college students. Each of the ten minute films was very different from the others but they all had this in common, heavy handed product placement from the competition's sponsors, Sothebys and Business First.

It got to the point that during the last few films the audience would laugh each time one of the sponsor's logos showed up in the background of a shot or as part of a scene.

Among those in the audience at the Luke: Arthur von Wiesenberger, co-publisher of the News-Press and arguably, Santa Barbara's best kept man.

Von Wiesenberger's son was the director of one of the films in the competition.

And no, Wendy McCaw wasn't with him. She must have stayed home to watch the Super Bowl pre-game show.

With this year's film fest wrapped, I'd like to thank Roger Durling and his film fest staff, Carol Marshall and her publicity staff and every one of the 500 or so volunteer workers at the film festival.

* * *

With the California presidential primary election just one day away, I've been doing a very loose survey of who some of the prominent Democrats in town are supporting.

Former assemblymember Hannah Beth Jackson is backing Hillary Clinton, as is former county supervisor, Susan Rose. Former county clerk Ken Pettit is supporting Barack Obama as is former district attorney Stan Roden. City council member Helene Schneider and Second District County Supervisor Janet Wolfe are for Clinton.

Does anyone detect a pattern here? All the women are for Clinton and the men are for Obama.

It's not much different in my immediate family. My 18 year old son, a college freshman, is for Obama. My 12 year old daughter, a six grader, is for Clinton.

As for myself, I ain't saying.

Also not saying is Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum. When I asked her if she was publicly supporting a candidate she responded: "I am supporting the Democrat whoever he or she is. I love the choices we have."

Tomorrow is election day. Be sure to vote early and often.

* * *

My thought after watching the Super Bowl half-time show: whatever happened to the marching band?

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