Film Festival: back to basics
Press gathered at the Hotel Santa Barbara for one of the first film rituals of the year, the unveiling of this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival poster and its slate of films.
Among the usual celebrity tributes and popular sidebars, SBIFF’s Roger Durling announced a first: both opening and closing night films will be Santa Barbara productions.
The opening night will screen “Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy,” directed by his widow, Mimi deGruy. Mr. deGruy was a biologist-turned-filmmaker who focused on the undersea world. He died in 2012 in a helicopter crash while filming in Australia for James Cameron. Among other things he left behind a legacy of supporting and helping the SBIFF – “Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies,” a popular part of the fest, is named after him. The documentary will focus on both Mr. deGruy’s life and his mission to stop “mankind’s destruction of the ocean.”
The closing film is more lighthearted, with Wyatt Dally’s “Spoons: A Santa Barbara Story,” a surf documentary focused on our corner of the world and why our coastal city has produced so many world class surfers.
Both films are world premieres.
In between those two films, the Festival will screen 63 world premieres and 59 U.S. premieres from 48 countries. Those premiere numbers are up from last year by about 10 films.
Part of that comes down to the lack of natural disasters. As Mr. Durling said before unveiling the poster, there was a point in January where they weren’t sure if the SBIFF would go ahead last year. He credited this resolve that powered the successful 2018 film festival as one of the reasons behind the Santa Barbara focus this year.
For some attendees, the SBIFF is about stargazing and over the last month, the festival has doled out announcement after announcement for its celebrity slate.
This year’s line-up features Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”) for Saturday, Feb. 2; Glenn Close (“The Wife”) also for Saturday, Feb. 2; Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) on Sunday, Feb. 3; The Virtuosos Award feat. Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), Sam Elliott (“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”) on Tuesday, Feb. 5; Michael B. Jordan (“Black Panther” and “Creed II”) on Thursday, Feb. 7.
There are still some announcements to come: the “Outstanding Performer of the Year” award for Friday, Feb. 1 has yet to be finalized, as are the “Directors of the Year” award for Thursday, Jan. 31, and the line-up for the Variety Artisans Awards evening on Monday, Feb. 4.
The Producers and Writers panels will go ahead as usual on Saturday, Feb. 2, while the Women’s Panel will be on Sunday, Feb. 3.
Super Silent Sunday will feature a free screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 “Metropolis” featuring live music, on Feb. 3.
The brief announcement yesterday concluding with the unveiling of long time SBIFF poster artist Barbara Boros presenting design for the festival, featuring a colorful view of Santa Barbara’s coastline.
“We have entered this year with a renewed sense of purpose and continuity with the festival,” said Mr. Durling, “and understand more than ever the important role we play in the community.”
SBIFF runs from January 30 through February 9. Go to www.sbiff.org for more details.