Posted by Larry Gleeson
The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is underway. An at-capacity Arlington Theatre audience ushered in the January 15-25 Phase Two Oscar Campaign film festival. In traditional fashion, The Mayor of Santa Barbara, Cathy Murillo (pictured above) made opening remarks and hinted of the magic about to unfold in the Opening Night film, A BUMP ALONG THE WAY, making its U.S. premiere at SBIFF. With her promise to sprinkle pixie dust into the air before introducing SBIFF Executive Director, Roger Durling.
Without further adieu, Durling entering from stage left strutted to center stage and delivered eloquent remarks on his love of cinema, its unabashed inclusiveness, sense of community, and educational properties of the festival today. SBIFF began in 1986 as an economic venture. One of the community-building moments under Durling’s direction is pausing his remarks so audience members can spend a moment introducing and bonding with a before-unknown cinephile friend. In addition, a strong thank you to the festival volunteers, the backbone of the in-festival mode of operations, and to the Manitou Fund for its generous support in equipping several viewing screens with the OTOjOY hearing loop technology.
Seemingly, with the pixie dust taking effect, Durling expounded on a 1986 cinema experience with his close friend, socially incapacitated with facial lesions. From this moment and similar experiences, a revelation of cinema as a great equalizer full of wonder, curiosity, hope, and positive expectation unfolded. With that, a vivacious Irish woman (a bonafide Derry girl), Bronagh Gallagher, took stage alongside Durling to introduce the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Opening night film, A BUMP ALONG THE WAY.
Captivating the audience with her powerful presence and equally powerful Irish brogue voice, Gallagher informed the audience of the all-female film department heads involved in the film’s production. The audience responded with a resounding chorus of applause and rounds of laughter as the lead actress exuberantly expressed how proud she felt representing the women of Derry, Ireland, with the emotionally compelling film and that if she didn’t get a picture at of the full house she’d “never be allowed back into Derry.” With that, the lights went down and the 35th Santa Barbara Film Festival was underway.
Following the film, the Opening Night Gala was held in the beautiful outdoor Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara featuring entertainment, food, libations, while celebrating the start of the 35th SBIFF.
Sat tuned for more as the festival runs through January 25th!
While quantities are running low, some tickets and passes are still available HERE. Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!