Entertainment Magazine: Film: California: Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Film Festival: 2011: Part 1

SBIFF 2011: Part 2

(photo above) James Franco in 127 Hours. Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick.

Christopher Nolan (left) and award presenter Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw.

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech.

As always, the 26th Santa Barbara International Film Festival offered a variety of special presentations and screenings along with regular festival screenings.  In Part 2 of my overview of this year’s SBIFF, let’s check out some of the events, special screenings, and a few more regular festival films. 
As usual, five A-list filmmakers – the four actors turning out to be Academy Award nominees this year – received individual honors during special evening programs devoted to each recipient.  These programs consisted of on-stage interviews of the honored actor or director conducted by a noted film critic, film clips covering the honoree’s entire career, and a special guest presenter of the award – someone with whom the recipient has worked – at the end of the evening.  Red carpet arrivals signified the prestige of these awards. 
For each honoree, his or her current critically acclaimed film was shown earlier that day as a special festival screening.  Thus, we had the following awards, awardees, and their respective films:

Nicole Kidman receiving the Cinema Vanguard Award. Photo credit: Jensen Sutta.

James Franco (left) discusses his career and education with Leonard Maltin. Photo credit: Madelyn Ritrosky.

  •  American Riviera Award:  Annette Bening and The Kids are All Right
  • Outstanding Performance of the Year Award:  James Franco and 127 Hours
  • Modern Master Award:  Christopher Nolan and Inception
  • Montecito Award:  Geoffrey Rush and The King’s Speech
  • Cinema Vanguard Award:  Nicole Kidman and Rabbit Hole

Reflecting on those events, certain moments stand out....

Annette Bening talking to reporters with her supportive husband Warren Beatty making sure she got the spotlight. 

James Franco talking about his ongoing formal education, that is, his graduate studies, which is so unusual for an actor of his stature. 

After watching Inception, Jared commented that he’d decided it was all Christopher Nolan’s dream.  So true. 

Geoffrey Rush with the Montecito Award, presented by Colin Firth. Photo credit:  Ray Mickshaw

The Gruffalo listens to the Mouse.

Jared getting to stand next to Captain Barbosa, aka Geoffrey Rush, as Jared looks forward to the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies this summer. 

Then there was also the guest presenter of Geoffrey Rush’s award, Colin Firth, a 2010 honoree himself and Oscar nominee for Best Actor again this year.  You couldn’t go wrong on that night.  

I should add that the festival now also gives what it calls the Virtuosos Awards to recognize several lesser known actors who have recently given outstanding performances.  Those performers were honored together in one program.  This year they were John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone, Lesley Manville for Another Year, Hailee Steinfeld True Grit, and Jacki Weaver Animal Kingdom.Another continuing feature of SBIFF is its free, kid-friendly screenings on weekend mornings called Apple Box Family Films.  The two feature films were the recent box office hits Tangled and How to Train Your Dragon.  Since Jared and I had yet to see either of these movies, we enjoyed them all the more at the Arlington Theatre and in 3-D. 
The Apple Box Shorts Program consisted of nine festival-entry short films, all of which were animated this year.  These films were Alex and the Ghosts, Amazonia, Burning Stage, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, The Gruffalo, The Lost Thing, Mobile, New Digs, and Ormie.  Great stuff.  Especially cute was the ending of Amazonia, where the frogs and snakes and crocodiles all bow for the audience after superb performances as prey and predators. 

Rachel Weisz in The Whistleblower

Another program of short films that we attended was the Santa Barbara Shorts Program.  These films had to have some sort of substantial local connection to be included in this program, such as shooting locale or resident filmmaker. 
My personal favorites from this stuffed-full program were humorous, overcome-an-obstacle dramas – The Monstrosity, Scooterman, and The Extraordinary Fight of Atticus Walker and the Monster in His Mind.  (Read more about The Monstrosity here.)  While Scooterman has all the basics for a romantic comedy, Atticus Walker is a comedy about self-confidence.  
The quasi-historical Wallace Carothers melds Masterpiece Theater with “newsreels” for comic storytelling.  In contrast, The Other Astronaut and The Fourth Horseman venture multi-layered, darkly absurd tales.   
Finally, the feature film The Whistleblower deserves mention because it sheds light on very troubling actual events and a real, ongoing problem.  Written and directed by a woman, Larysa Kondracki, the film is intense and disturbing.  It is about sexual slavery in post-war Bosnia, a United Nations cover-up, and the American female police officer who discovered things while working as a peacekeeper there.  Against all kinds of roadblocks, Kathryn Bolkovac (played by Rachel Weisz) managed to tell her story to news media.  Yet this horrifying crime continued in Bosnia, the paid-off U.N. contractors continue working elsewhere, and sexual slavery festers elsewhere in the world. 

Read SBIFF 2011: Part 1

2011 SBFF | Santa Barbara International Film Festival INDEX

Film Entertainment Magazine | Santa Barbara Entertainment Magazine

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