After 25 years, the city of Santa Barbara hosts one of the world’s top film fests. For 11 days, the quiet 805 area code creates a vibe of Hollywood glam with over 200 films.
Even though Oscar nods were announced days prior to the festival, participants were booked months ago. This unique synchronicity was due to the keen eye of mastermind Roger Durling, SBIFF Executive Director since 2002.
“This is like film boot camp,” said Quentin Tarantino, a panelist, along with 2010 Oscar-nominated James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, Lee Daniels and Pete Docter. Variety’s Peter Bart moderated.
Special honorees included Sandra Bullock, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sadibe and Michael Stuhlbarg, Kathryn Bigelow, Julianne Moore, Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Christoph Waltz, Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges.
Tucci, who stared in “The Lovely Bones,” dealt with his evil character as a human being. “I was ecstatic to shoot ‘Julie and Julia’ right after ‘Bones.’ I put on a moustache, drank wine and worked with Meryl, much needed after my disturbing role.”
Award-winner James Cameron, who was interviewed by Leonard Maltin, appeared humble which is not a trait associated with the film genius, and stated, “I had trepidations going into the “Avatar” screening with Steven [Spielberg] and the cast, as I had not seen the full movie. He added, “If you can’t make yourself cry, how can you make other people cry?” Wife Suzi Amis escorted him.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised his pal Cameron at the 11th hour. Upon departure, he whispered “I’ll be back!” The former actor was adorned with several gold bracelets/rings and boots with his dapper suit and tie.
Kirk Douglas, 93, was interviewed by Tarantino, the festival’s wild card. At a touching moment, Tarantino kissed Douglas’ hand. Douglas was unfazed about his “legend” status. “I want to go watch the Super Bowl!”
Sue Facter has reported on entertainment, travel and beauty for “USA Today,” “TV Guide,” “Women’s Day Australia” and “Los Angeles Times,” and has consulted for “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra” and “Inside Edition.”