Friday, February 05, 2010

The Film Fest Fanatic

Before the morning coffee and after the first Film Fest hangover.

The 25th edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Fest kicked off last night. I didn't make it to the opening film,.Flying Lessons, (you can view red carpet photos from Edhat) but I can say that was one hell of a party over at Paseo Nuevo afterwards.

I know that there are some people out there who, as Yogi Berra put it, "stay away in droves" both from the Film Festival and my coverage of it. For those of you who find yourselves in that category, I beg you to get some therapy. The Film Fest is the most fun you can have during the winter in Santa Barbara.

So for the next 10 days I'll be sitting in the audience every day and trying to sneak behind the scenes whenever I can.

Armed with my netbook computer and my iPhone, I plan to update my blog throughout the day. I'll even be blogging live from the red carpet. Because there are so many movies and so little time, I've recruited my daughter, a big fan of the Film Fest herself, to help me cover it all. We'll be shooting and posting video from the red carpet and standing out in the rain and cold, if it comes down to that, so you don't have to. Think of us as your Platinum Pass to the Film Fest.

Can't decide which films to see? I now have a YouTube channel where you can watch preview trailers of films by Santa Barbara filmmakers that will be shown at the festival. And of course I'll have a Film Fest photo gallery that will be continually updated.


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So with so many films to choose from over the next 10 days, how does one know which ones are the gems and which one's you shouldn't waste your time with? Well, the research department has been hard at work and here's my recommendations for today, Friday.

Learning from Light, about architect I.M. Pei and his final project. Festival programmer Candace Schermerhorn calls it, "Beautifully done." Shows at 12:30 pm at Victoria Hall.

Letters to Father Jaakob. In this Finnish film, a newly pardoned convict agrees to work as an assistant to a blind pastor. According to Roger Durling, a lot of people thought this film should have been among the nominees for this year's best foreign film. Screens at 2 pm at the Lobero.

If you're a Doors fan, you will want to see When You're Strange. 80 percent of the footage in this documetary has never been seen before. John Densmore, the former drummer of the group, is scheduled to be present at the 7 pm screening at the Lobero.

Woman Without a Piano, is a movie from Spain about a musician who travels a great distance to return an instrument to his elderly teacher. According to Roger Durling, the movie has "terrific acting by the lead actress." Shows at 7 pm at the Metro 4.

The Hungry Ghosts. This New York City set drama, is the feature film directing debut of Michael Imperioli, who you may know best from his acting in The Sopranos. A number of his fellow actors from The Sopranos are in the cast of this film. Screens at 7:45 pm at the Metro 4.

The Wild Hunt, about a medieval reenactment game, won the award as the audience favorite at the just concluded Slamdance Festival in Park City, Utah. Screens at 9:45 pm at the Metro 4.

Of course, the Sandra Bullock tribute is at 8 pm at the Arlington. Red carpet arrivals start around 7 pm.

The full Film Fest schedule is available at Edhat.

I'll meet you in the balcony.

© 2010 by Craig Smith and