Santa Barbara
International Film Festival
After thoroughly enjoying the recent Toronto Film Festival we want more. We were considering attending Sundance but hear that Santa Barbara also has a festival. With winter settling in here, Santa Barbara sounds more appealing for a winter get away. What can you tell us about their event?

The 19th Annual Santa Barbara Film Festival has as one of its compelling features the delightful ambience and community of Santa Barbara itself. As many call it the “American Riviera” it is a most fitting location for a major film festival. Not yet possessing the stature of Toronto or Sundance, its proximity to Hollywood, and since Santa Barbara is called home by many major players, craftsmen (and women) and stars, it has much to offer. Opening night for the 2004 ten-day SBIFF is January 30--a month earlier than last year due to the Academy Awards schedule change which dramatically affects everything in this business.

You didn’t mention your taste in films, but Santa Barbara offers an eclectic mix of receptions, seminars, symposiums and parties. The hot ticket this year will be the presentation to Peter Jackson an award as a Modern Master. This New Zealander has been involved with all three of the Lord of the Rings feature movies as well as numerous off-beat productions which have made him a current favorite. A Platinum or Full Festival Pass guarantees access to the Jackson presentation as well as all other films and events but you must be on time as additional tickets are sold based upon seats available fifteen minutes prior to starting.

Nearly 150 films, including three world and five U.S. premieres, will be screened ranging from independent productions to major studio releases. Showings are typically followed by short talks by writers, producers or talent.

Symposiums include: discussions by “Movers and Shakers”, writers sharing “It Starts With the Script,” the thought provoking and inspiring “Creative Forces: Women in the Biz,” and “Directors on Directing.” Called Sidebars, the Santa Barbara Film Festival offers collections of topical films to expose movie goers to a broad range of topics, styles and production techniques. Sidebars for 2004 include: Women in Cinema, Latino Focus, Cult Films and Musicals. Visit for lists of films, events, schedules, ticket options and a wealth of additional information.

Santa Barbara’s well-known friendly and intimate atmosphere lives strongly at the film festival. So get your tickets early to rub shoulders with film industry insiders, critics and aficionados; gain production insights from the masters themselves; swap stories and opinions with fellow devotees; buy some popcorn and as a major movie fan used to say, “Save an aisle seat for me.”

  The Express-Times, Sunday, January 18, 2004
published prior to the event


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