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SBIFF’s Virtuosos Awards honor 2014 breakthrough roles

Seven of 2014’s most memorable actors received honors on Sunday night at the Arlington in a modestly attended but exuberant evening for the SBIFF. The Virtuosos Award at the Fest traditionally gathers together a group of breakout actors, rising stars, and veteran actors just now getting their due for a night of short interviews moderated by Dave Karger of Fandango. In previous years, SBIFF has had a problem at locking down some guests, with one year featuring four of the seven actors advertised. But to the Fest’s credit this year, all seven were on hand to talk about their exciting year.

The group was made up of Chadwick Boseman, who inhabited the role of soul music legend James Brown to an uncanny degree in “Get On Up”; Ellar Coltrane, the boy of “Boyhood” who audiences watched grow up on film over the course of its 12-year shoot; Logan Lerman, the child actor who grew up to hold his own against Brad Pitt on screen in “Fury”; David Oyelowo, the British actor who brought Martin Luther King Jr. to life in “Selma”; Rosamund Pike, another British actor who gave us the very American, very Machiavellian wife in “Gone Girl”; J.K. Simmons, the veteran actor who tossed aside many years of lovable fatherly supporting characters to bring viewers the intense and sadistic jazz teacher in “Whiplash”; and former SNL member Jenny Slate, who plays the comic and complex lead role in “The Obvious Child.”

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SBIFF honors Michael Keaton, from ‘Night Shift’ to ‘Birdman’

Michael Keaton speaks to reporters before entering the Arlington Theatre to accept the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Modern Master Award for his performance in "Birdman." NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

Michael Keaton speaks to reporters before entering the Arlington Theatre to accept the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Modern Master Award for his performance in “Birdman.”
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

For many movie fans, Michael Keaton’s Oscar-nominated role in “Birdman” was so good people wondered where the star had been for so many years.

But as Leonard Maltin, moderator for SBIFF’s Modern Master Award, pointed out on Saturday night at the Arlington Theatre, “He’s never gone away. But it’s been a little while since we’ve seen a performance that’s been able to showcase his talent as fully and richly as ‘Birdman’ does.”

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SBIFF honors Jennifer Aniston for her work in Cake

Jennifer Aniston signs autographs for fans outside the Arlington Theatre on Friday night, before receiving the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Montecito Award. NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

Jennifer Aniston signs autographs for fans outside the Arlington Theatre on Friday night, before receiving the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award.
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

Jennifer Aniston has spent a career trying to rise above the tabloids and the paparazzi that have recorded her every move and emotion, calling it “white noise” tonight on the red carpet outside the Arlington Theatre, where she was to be awarded the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award for her career and her Golden Globe nominated role in the indie drama “Cake,” which only just opened in Santa Barbara.

But the star got a little of both slavish fan treatment and serious consideration tonight at this sold out show. The celebrity photo bank on the red carpet was a noisy, crazed affair, with shoving and elbows among the photographers trying to get a shot of the star. The crowds outside screamed and hollered and got autographs, a group of girls who looked like they were born in the early ’90s sang the theme song to “Friends” in a loop as Ms. Aniston talked to the press. And inside the audience was just as heated and excited, as she sat down with Deadline Hollywood’s Pete Hammond.

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The Gardens live on: SBIFF documentary profiles one of Santa Barbara’s most beloved bars

Jimmy's Oriental Gardens was open from 1947 to 2006. Casey McGarry

Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens was open from 1947 to 2006.
Casey McGarry

The return of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, that beloved watering hole, under new owners and the new name of Bob Lovejoy’s Pickle Room is an anomaly. In a world where beloved places vanish or are bought out and torn down, never to return, the case of this bar on Canon Perdido is a cause for celebration, and Casey McGarry’s documentary does right by it.

The 30-something director, who made the documentary in between funding for a longer, even-more personal documentary, remembers the Chinese food from the kitchen half of the establishment as a kid, but was too young to really know where the fun was. But after a chance encounter with Bob Lovejoy, he quickly caught up and knew a story needed to be told.

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The 805 keeps it reel: Local filmmakers at the film fest and how short documentaries show off our town

Ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, filmmaker Jim Knowlton and a team of scientists explore tiny Swains Island in "Swains Island: One of the Last Jewels on the Planet. SBIFF

Ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, filmmaker Jim Knowlton and a team of scientists explore tiny Swains Island in “Swains Island: One of the Last Jewels on the Planet.
SBIFF

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival brings Hollywood to our own backyard, but what about the filmmakers who are already here? The festival has long given our writers and directors their own sidebar to show off the many documentaries and fiction films produced here. Some come out of the many production courses available here, others from small production studios and others just have to make films by any means possible.

For the first time this year, SBIFF offers a prize for Best Santa Barbara Feature, and all the contestants are documentaries.

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Dynamic Duo: SBIFF honors Oscar-nominated team Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones, star of "The Theory of Everything," speaks to reporters on the red carpet outside the Arlington Theatre on Thursday. Ms. Jones and co-star Eddie Redmayne received the Cinema Vanguard Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival NIK BLASKOVICH/ NEWS-PRESS

Felicity Jones, star of “The Theory of Everything,” speaks to reporters on the red carpet outside the Arlington Theatre on Thursday. Ms. Jones and co-star Eddie Redmayne received the Cinema Vanguard Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
NIK BLASKOVICH/ NEWS-PRESS

Actor Eddie Redmayne revealed himself to be as much in awe of Hollywood and the movie-making machine as his fans are in awe of him.

At the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Cinema Vanguard Award event Thursday at the Arlington Theatre, where he and his co-star Felicity Jones, from “The Theory of Everything,” were honored for their Oscar-nominated performances, the star talked about his first big Tinseltown experience.

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Film Festival opens SBIFF celebrates 30th birthday at the Arlington

"Desert Dancer" opened the 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Tuesday at the Arlington Theatre NIK BLASKOVICH/ NEWS-PRESS

“Desert Dancer” opened the 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Tuesday at the Arlington Theatre
NIK BLASKOVICH/ NEWS-PRESS

For this 30th year of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival,Tuesday is the new Thursday Moved up two days and extended by one, the 12-day festival looked the same as in years past.

The Arlington Theatre was filled with film lovers and the smell of popcorn.

The streets outside bustled with fans hoping to glimpse a celebrity while searchlights raked the skies, now clear of the storm clouds of the day before.

The stars of the opening night film had come in from places due east, whether that was New York or Europe, or even a little more inland down in Los Angeles. And the consensus was: What a lovely place to have a film festival.

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SBIFF kicks off its 30th year tonight with opening film “Desert Dancer”

The 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival opens tonight for 12 days of celebrities; world premiere films; popular panels on writing, producing and directing; and much more. In a show of its expanding success, the festival now starts two days earlier and ends nearly a week later on a Saturday, a change after many years.

SBIFF as usual has a bevy of Oscar contenders ready to be honored and walk the red carpet, events that cause Santa Barbarans to flood the street outside the Arlington Theatre for a chance to see Hollywood’s best. Honored this year are Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, the Cousteau family, Michael Keaton and a selection of breakthrough actors in the festival’s Virtuosos Award evening.

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High school and college students gather to begin SBIFF’s filmmaking competition

The 20 finalists for this year's 10-10-10 competition gather for a group shot at the Canary Hotel. Ten are from area high schools, and 10 are from colleges such as SBCC, UCSB, Allan Hancock and Brooks Institute. The 10 teams of screenwriters and directors have the length of the festival to shoot and complete a short film, with prizes for the winning four films.

The 20 finalists for this year’s 10-10-10 competition gather for a group shot at the Canary Hotel. Ten are from area high schools, and 10 are from colleges such as SBCC, UCSB, Allan Hancock and Brooks Institute. The 10 teams of screenwriters and directors have the length of the festival to shoot and complete a short film, with prizes for the winning four films.

Starting positions, everyone! The 12th annual 10-10-10 Student Competition kicked off yesterday at a press conference at the Canary Hotel, a day before the 12-day Santa Barbara International Film Festival begins. High school and college students get the span of the festival to shoot and edit a film to be screened on the final day of the film fest, with cash prizes and summer workshop scholarships going to the winners.

This year the competition has brought on a new sponsor, Relativity Education, part of Relativity Media, which is also hosting tonight’s opening film, “Desert Dancer.” According to programmer Mickey Duzdevich, the media company runs a summer workshop for film students and was seeking to partner with a film festival nationwide that ran a similar competition. The sponsorship may continue through the following years with the possibility of equipment loans during the week.

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The theory of Eddie: Affable actor Eddie Redmayne on becoming Stephen Hawking

 Eddie Redmayne received a Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award two years ago for his work on "Les Misérables." Ruven Afanador photo


Eddie Redmayne received a Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award two years ago for his work on “Les Misérables.”
Ruven Afanador photo

When Eddie Redmayne picks up the phone, he’s got handlers waiting outside, already prepared to take him to rehearsal. He’s had a full morning. On this particular Thursday, Oscar nominations have been announced and his portrayal of astrophysicist and all-around genius Stephen Hawking has earned him a Best Actor nomination and his co-star Felicity Jones, who plays Mr. Hawking’s wife Jane, a Best Actress nomination.

“I was in Los Angeles and asleep and I was woken up with this rapping on the door, and it was my manager at the hotel with a phone with a cacophony of screams from the team of people who have been supporting me for years,” he says. “I went from naught to 100 in the space of three seconds. I’ve been flying on adrenaline ever since.”

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