Friday, January 22, 2010

For This Year's Film Fest "Lucky" Means More Than Just A Sponsor

The Santa Barbara Film Fest starts in less than two weeks. What's the only thing that could put a bigger damper on a red carpet arrival ceremony than an El NiƱo rain storm? Try a picket line.

Count me among those of us in town who are breathing a big sigh of relief now that the stagehand's union has ended their strike against Metropolitan Theaters, the owner of the Arlington Theater.

As the 25th edition of the Film Fest approached its opening day, the prospect of a strike loomed over the festival's showcase venue.

As recently as Wednesday morning, members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts of the United States (IATSE) Local 442, had a picket line set up on Chapala Street at the rear of the Arlington while semi-trucks were unloading the set for that night's performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.

While film screenings at the Arlington would not have been picketed, the union was urging local residents to skip any "live performances" at the theater until the strike was settled. Presumably those "live performances" would have included the Film Fest's trademark tributes.

Actors such as Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock, and Colin Firth, who are being honored at this year's festival with events at the Arlington are presumably members of the Screen Actor's Guild, the largest labor union representing working actors. Also being feted at the Arlington is Avatar director James Cameron, who is presumably a member of the Director's Guild of America, which has collective bargaining agreements with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. For these celebrity union members, the prospect of crossing a picket line, if the stagehands had chosen to throw one up, would undoubtedly have been awkward.

And in a town where many people believe in such things as a living wage and are supportive of labor unions, picket lines would undoubtedly have made many film fest aficionados uncomfortable.

The festival's slogan this year is "11 Amazing Days, 10 Starry Nights." You might add to that, "1 lucky beginning."

Old Boston Garden, home of the Celtics during the days they ruled the NBA year in and year out, was rumored to have leprechauns hiding in the rafters. The Film Fest must have leprechauns sitting in the balcony of the Arlington.
© 2010 by Craig Smith and