BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The red carpet was rolled throughout the covered courtyard leading into the Arlington Theatre on State Street, as film buffs and movie makers made their way into the theater Wednesday evening to kick-off the 34th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Hundreds lined up outside the theater passing through steel barricades and the media scrum, as a capacity crowd attended the showing of “Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy.”
Roger Durling, executive director of the festival, told the News-Press that as he was preparing to take over the festival in 2002 that the late Mr. deGruy gave him a vote of approval, telling Mr. Durling that he had the passion to take the festival to the next level.
Fast-forward 17 years and Mr. Durling said its his passion for all things cinema that have helped bring the festival to its current glory. The festival has been held since 1986, and today features hundreds of feature films and short films from throughout the world.
On Wednesday evening, production staff, directors and others shared stories about their films that will be premiered at this year’s festival, including “Better Together” by Isaac Hernandez, “Moose,” directed by Jonah Ansell, “Loopers” directed by Jason Baffa, and “The Map to Paradise” directed by James Sherwood.
One year after the deadly debris flow in Montecito, the theme of this year’s festival is resilience and vitality, Mr. Durling told the News-Press.
“It gave us a new sense of purpose about what the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is all about,” he said. “It’s about bringing people together and to reflect – in good times and bad times.”
The documentary shown Wednesday is about Mr. deGruy, a biologist turned award-winning filmmaker who swam, dived and filmed in oceans around the world.
In 2012, Mr. deGruy died tragically in a helicopter crash in Australia while filming for director James Cameron.
The film is told through the eyes of his wife and filmmaking partner, Mimi, and serves as a celebration of Mr. deGruy’s life, career and his belief that we are destroying the ocean before we even know what’s there.
Following the film, the Opening Night Gala event, sponsored by Amazon Studies, was held at Paseo Nuevo shopping center which included entertainment, food, and a chance to celebrate the start of the festival.
Event organizers were hopeful that the upcoming wet weather wouldn’t put a damper on the event, but heading to a theater for a film might be the best place to stay dry.
“That’s the beauty of it all,” Mr. Durling said. “If it pours and ranis, think about it – what do you do when it rains? You’re not going golfing, you’re not going to surf or hike – you go to the movies.”
Attendance records typically spike when it rains during the festival, he added.
Rain was expected to begin during the overnight hours Wednesday before clearing up around noon today. Coastal areas were expected to receive between a quarter and half-inch of rain, with up to 1 inch of rain expected in higher elevations, said Lisa Phillips, meteorologist intern with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
A second bout of rain will move through the area late Friday into Saturday and is expected to bring heavier, sustained showers. Between 1 and 3 inches of rain is expected, with showers continuing throughout the day Saturday, Ms. Phillips said.
Rainfall rates up to 1 inch per hour was possible for certain areas, which could prompt evacuation orders. Residents who live below the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas Fires were under a weather advisory due to the Friday evening storm event and were warned that evacuations were possible, according to a news release issued by the county Wednesday afternoon.
Additional rain showers were possible Saturday evening through Monday night, according to the Weather Service.
For the first time ever, the festival’s “Cinema” and “State Street” passes were sold out. The festival’s kickoff is competing with the conclusion of the Sundance Film Festival as well as Sunday’s Super Bowl — though tickets to see Melissa McCarthy after the big game were already sold out, Mr. Durling said.
Each day of the festival will include a free movie screening at the downtown movie theaters.
“People feel like this is an elitist event and we’ve made a concerted effort over the past few years to make it a community event,” Mr. Durling said.
The festivities will continue tonight, as film director Spike Lee will be at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Store at 6 p.m. to sign copies of his book “Do the Right Thing,” about the making of his film of the same name.
Here is a list of the other events planned at the Arlington Theatre:
• 8 p.m. tonight — Outstanding Directors Award. This will feature Mr. Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite””, Adam McKay (“Vice”), and Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”).
• 8 p.m. Friday — Outstanding Performer Award. The winner will be announced the night of. Past honorees include Steve Carell, Ryan Gossling, Emma Stone, Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence and many other A-list celebrities.
• 3 p.m. Saturday — American Riviera Award will be presented to Viggo Mortensen.
• 8 p.m. Saturday — Maltin Modern Master Award will be presented to Glenn Close.
• 8 p.m. Sunday — Montecito Award will be presented to Ms. McCarthy.
• 8 p.m. Tuesday — Virtuosos Award. Honorees include: Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”); Sam Elliot (“A Star is Born”); Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”); Claire Foy (“First Man”); Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”); Thomasin McKenzie (“Leave No Trace”); John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”); and Steven Yeun (“Burning”).
• 8 p.m. Feb. 7 — Cinema Vanguard Award will be presented to Michael B. Jordan.
For more information, visit sbiff.org.