Friday, January 23, 2009

The Movies Roll and the Vodka Flows

The 24th edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival opened last night. From what I could tell, the only empty seat in the 2200 seat Arlington Theater, was the one next to me, where I was stowing my rain coat and hat.

Film Fest Director, Roger Durling, Peter Sklar and Sue Foley of Edhat and Allison MacPherson (aka "The Most Downloaded Woman on Craig Smith's Blog") at last night's opening party.

This was the first time I actually attended the screening of the opening night film. In past years, I have usually been tied up with a teaching commitment on opening night.

I decided to approach this year's film fest a little differently from past years. Instead of taking my place along the rail with the rest of the media contingent as celebrities arrived and worked their way down the red carpet, I decided I would just head into the theater as any other pass holder would and absorb the atmosphere inside before the program started.

I wasn't disappointed. The people watching inside the theater is just as good as it is on the press line.

One thing quickly became obvious, no two people in this town get together and decide how to dress before heading to the Arlington. On one hand, you had people dressed to the nines. On the other hand, there were plenty of people who looked like they were on their way to a Raider's game.

I enjoyed the movie, "Nothing But The Truth." But if you missed it last night it may be awhile before you have a chance to see it. Producer/director/writer Rod Lurie is still looking for a distributor for his film after his original distributor declared bankruptcy.

Film Fest executive Director Roger Durling originally saw the movie at the Toronto Film Festival, liked it, and moved to secure it as the opening night film for Santa Barbara. And it didn't hurt that another of Lurie's films, "The Contender" is a favorite of Roger's.

After the movie it was time to move on to the Paseo Nuevo mall, the site of the opening night party.

The number of people packing the mall for the party seemed to surpass the holiday shopping crowds. Of course, if the malls had open bars for their patrons, I'd frequent them far more often too.

Taking a few lumps in the News-Press lately, didn't keep KEYT's John Palmineteri out of the public eye.

While I was trying to snap Palminteri's picture, I heard somebody behind me saying, "I'm over here, I'm over here!"

Turns out it was a dapper Royce Borgeson, a local resident, looking like he was heading to anyplace other than a Raider's game.

(Actually, a guy dressed like that at a Raider's game could make for a pretty ugly scene.)

My photo album from this year's film fest is posted here, and will be updated regularly throughout the festival.

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My Film Fest recommendations for Friday:

If you didn't stay out too late last night at the party, you might want to catch Tiramisu which screens at 8 am at the Metro 4. It's one of Roger Durling's top picks.

One of my favorite films of the year was Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I lobbied Roger to make one of its stars, Scarlett Johansson an honoree this year. But alas, he opted for the other female star of the movie, Penelope Cruz, who ended up getting nominated for an Oscar for her role. the movie screens at 2 pm at the Lobero.

Another movie that Roger has raved about is Tandoori Love. Switzerland meets Bollywood!. You can catch it at 4:30 pm at the Metro 4.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and