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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: 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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After This, The Deluge: SBIFF’S FRENCH FILM SERIES THE WAVE COMES TO THE RIVIERA

"Not My Type (Pas Son Genre

“Not My Type (Pas Son Genre

The Wave is rolling toward our shores this week, a five-day, 11-film mini-film fest put on by Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Intended as a mid-year fundraiser for SBIFF, it features in its first year a focus on France and French directors, with other countries slotted for following years. So why France as the first choice?

“French cinema is very popular among our audience,” says SBIFF programmer Mickey Duzdevich, meaning Santa Barbara in general. He points to the success of the French films that screen in SBIFF’s Showcase series at Plaza de Oro every Wednesday. “Those films are the ones that sell out.” And at the last SBIFF, French films sold more tickets. Who knew Santa Barbara were such Francophiles? Quelle surprise!

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SBIFF: Wide eyes and big movies: SBIFF’s Field Trip brings in children to experience films on the big screen

Approximately 2,000 school kids descended upon the Arlington Theatre for "Mike's Field Trip to the Movies" during the SBIFF.NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

Approximately 2,000 school kids descended upon the Arlington Theatre for “Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies” during the SBIFF.

NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

The view from the Arlington stage was impressive on Thursday morning. From the front row to the balcony, 2,000 kids from schools all over the county laughed, applauded, and cheered along to Disney’s animated hit “Frozen.” But this wasn’t a regular screening of the Hans Christian Andersen-based animated film, but one of two screenings of SBIFF’s “Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies.”

One of SBIFF’s outreach programs, Field Trip buses in a total of 4,000 students, many of them in Title 1 schools for children below the poverty level, to see a movie at the Arlington and meet the filmmakers.

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SBIFF: Robert Redford looks back on more than 50 years of filmmaking

Above, Robert Redford is interviewed on the Arlington Theatre stage by Leonard Maltin during a celebration of Mr. Redford's career.MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

Above, Robert Redford is interviewed on the Arlington Theatre stage
by Leonard Maltin during a celebration of Mr. Redford’s career.

MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

“I’ve always been shy, especially at celebrations of myself,” Robert Redford said as he sat down for a career retrospective at Friday night’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Cinema Vanguard award.

“But,” he added, “I’m glad I’m getting one.”

So was the packed Arlington Theater, which was just as sold out as the previous night’s Scorsese-DiCaprio two-fer, just with fewer screaming fans waiting outside on the red carpet.

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SBIFF: Double Dose – Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio share the stage at SBIFF

Leonardo DiCaprio meets fans on the red carpet before receiving the SBIFF award.

Leonardo DiCaprio meets fans on the red carpet before receiving the SBIFF award.

Look what happens when you wait.

When Leonardo DiCaprio bowed out of his own American Riviera Award at the SBIFF last year fans were disappointed. When, they wondered, would Mr. DiCaprio return? Well, as it turns out, he’s back this year and he brought Martin Scorsese with him for an evening’s worth of conversation moderated by Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy. The focus was film and the history of the two men, who increase their symbiotic relationship with each movie they work on together. (This time Mr. DiCaprio’s award is the “Cinema Vanguard” award.)

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