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Fellini Fest brings three film-based plays to Santa Barbara

The cast members of "La La La Strada" are, from top left and clockwise, Erica Flor, James Connolly, Jeff Mills, Dillon Yuhasz, Dana Fox-Ortner, Blythe Foster, Christina McCarthy, Genevieve Anderson. Erin Davison

The cast members of “La La La Strada” are, from top left and clockwise, Erica Flor, James Connolly, Jeff Mills, Dillon Yuhasz, Dana Fox-Ortner, Blythe Foster, Christina McCarthy, Genevieve Anderson.
Erin Davison

Two of the best directors of the 20th century, and one of its most enigmatic actresses: that’s not the line-up of another film festival, but the five-day-long, three-play “FELLINIFEST,” the self-proclaimed “Live Theater for Movie Lovers.” With the Film Festival still in our minds, producer Jeff Mills (no relation to the author) is hoping cinephiles will be attracted to these three new plays at Center Stage Theater.

Mr. Mills has been a Fellini fan since seeing “La Strada” when he was a student at UCSB. “It just floored me. It catches you right from the first scene.” He caught as many films by the director as he could and in 2003 made Fellini the theme of his wedding. Films like the quasi-autobiographical “8?” make even more sense to Mr. Mills now — having been a part of Boxtales for years and starting up Proboscis Theatre, he now has loads of directing and producing under his belt.

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SBIFF: That’s a wrap! SBIFF closes its 30th year with Kevin Costner film “McFarland, USA”

The cast of "McFarland USA" gather for photographers on the red carpet at the Arlington Theatre on Saturday. The film closed the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

The cast of “McFarland USA” gather for photographers on the red carpet at the Arlington Theatre on Saturday. The film closed the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival closed out its 30th year with a sold-out final screening at the Arlington Theatre of director Niki Caro’s “McFarland, USA” helped in no small part by its star Kevin Costner’s appearance on the red carpet.

This Disney film, set for wide release Feb. 20, tells the true story of Jim White, played by Mr. Costner, the coach that came to a small San Joaquin Valley town and created a cross-country team that went on to win at the national level.

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SBIFF: Steve almighty: SBIFF honors actor Steve Carell in a hilarious evening

Steve Carell greets the fans Friday outside the Arlington Theatre before accepting the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Mr. Carell was recognized for his Oscar-nominated performance in "Foxcatcher."

Steve Carell greets the fans Friday outside the Arlington Theatre before accepting the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Mr. Carell was recognized for his Oscar-nominated performance in “Foxcatcher.”

With a resume of some of the funniest movie and television characters of the last 15 years, Steve Carell’s appearance at the Arlington Theatre last night was a treat for the fans.

The evening had sold out long before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival started.

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SBIFF’s Closing Night film ‘McFarland, USA’ is a true story of overcoming odds

Director Niki Caro Bobby Quillard

Director Niki Caro
Bobby Quillard

Tomorrow will be the last day of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and the closing night film is set to inspire and warm hearts in a story set in the San Joaquin Valley. Kevin Costner and director Niki Caro will be in attendance.

“McFarland, USA” tells the true story of coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), who accepts a job at a high school in McFarland, a tiny farming community, mostly Latino, and not only creates their first cross-country running team, but then takes them to Nationals.

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Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette of “Boyhood” share career memories

Ethan Hawke signs autographs before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's American Riviera Awards Tribute at the Arlington Theatre. Mr. Hawke and costar Patricia Arquette received the award for their work in "Boyhood."

Ethan Hawke signs autographs before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s American Riviera Awards Tribute at the Arlington Theatre. Mr. Hawke and costar Patricia Arquette received the award for their work in “Boyhood.”

Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette have amassed such a body of work individually that either actor could have been the subject of Thursday night’s American Riviera Award at the Arlington Theatre, the penultimate tribute of this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

But after last year’s stunning “Boyhood,” in which they play parents to the lead character Mason (Ellar Coltrane), it only made sense to honor both at the same time.

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SBIFF: Fleet of foot: SBIFF’s Closing Night film ‘McFarland, USA’ is a true story of overcoming odds

Director Niki Caro on the set of "McFarland, USA"

Director Niki Caro on the set of “McFarland, USA”

Tomorrow will be the last day of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and the closing night film is set to inspire and warm hearts in a story set in the San Joaquin Valley. Kevin Costner and director Niki Caro will be in attendance.

“McFarland, USA” tells the true story of coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), who accepts a job at a high school in McFarland, a tiny farming community, mostly Latino, and not only creates their first cross-country running team, but then takes them to Nationals.

The film is both an uplifting sports film designed to bring maximum feelgoodness to a wide audience (it opens nationwide Feb. 20) and a chance to explore the economic underclass of California, where kids work in the fields alongside their parents and then go to high school later in the day. Theirs is a poor future that will either lead to work or prison (the high school rooms look across at the latter).

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SBIFF: Proud parents: Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette of “Boyhood” share career memories

Ethan Hawke signs autographs before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's American Riviera Awards Tribute at the Arlington Theatre. Mr. Hawke and costar Patricia Arquette received the award for their work in "Boyhood."

Ethan Hawke signs autographs before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s American Riviera Awards Tribute at the Arlington Theatre. Mr. Hawke and costar Patricia Arquette received the award for their work in “Boyhood.”

Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette have amassed such a body of work individually that either actor could have been the subject of Thursday night’s American Riviera Award at the Arlington Theatre, the penultimate tribute of this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

But after last year’s stunning “Boyhood,” in which they play parents to the lead character Mason (Ellar Coltrane), it only made sense to honor both at the same time.

Moderated by Roger Durling, executive director of the film festival, the evening was a sit-down interview with the two, while viewing clips from particular years of both their careers – a parallel progress report.

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Getting their due: New SBIFF award honors filmmaking’s unsung heroes

Sandra Adair, editor of "Boyhood," speaks to reporters before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Variety Artisans Awards were presented at the Lobero Theatre.

Sandra Adair, editor of “Boyhood,” speaks to reporters before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Variety Artisans Awards were presented at the Lobero Theatre.

For years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has honored actors, directors, writers and producers, the big names that film buffs know and follow.

But so many more jobs happen behind the scenes of a movie, essential ones that only really get talked about come Oscar season.

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Screenwriters Panel focuses on hazards of working with memoirs

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival's "It Starts with a Script" Screenwriters' Panel brought in some of the names behind 2014's films. From left, moderator Anne Thompson of Indiewire, Graham Moore ("The Imitation Game"), Anthony McCarten ("The Theory of Everything"), Jason Hall ("American Sniper"), Dan Gilroy ("Nightcrawler"), Max Frye ("Foxcatcher"), Alex Dinelaris ("Birdman") and Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash"). NIK BLASKOVICH / NEWS-PRESS

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s “It Starts with a Script” Screenwriters’ Panel brought in some of the names behind 2014’s films. From left, moderator Anne Thompson of Indiewire, Graham Moore (“The Imitation Game”), Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”), Jason Hall (“American Sniper”), Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”), Max Frye (“Foxcatcher”), Alex Dinelaris (“Birdman”) and Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”).
NIK BLASKOVICH / NEWS-PRESS

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival brought in the big names Saturday at the Lobero Theatre for its well-attended Screenwriters Panel, “It Starts with a Script.” And for the seven screenwriters in attendance, their scripts ended with award-winning films and Oscar nominations.

Moderated by Anne Thompson of Indiewire, the panel consisted of Graham Moore (“The Imitation Game”), Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”), Jason Hall (“American Sniper”), Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”), Max Frye (“Foxcatcher”), Alex Dinelaris (“Birdman”) and Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”).

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