By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire January 6, 2011 at 8:23AM
The 26th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will present 30 world premieres and 33 U.S. premieres among the 170 films slated for this year's edition.
Bookending the event are the U.S. premiere of Gilles Paquet-Brenner's French drama "Sarah's Key" starring Kristin Scott Thomas, and the world premiere of Julian Napier's "Carmen 3D," a co production between 3D movie pioneer RealD and London's Royal Opera House. Another film making its world premiere, Mike Pavone's "That's What I Am," starring Ed Harris, will serve as the Centerpiece Gala.
Recipients of the 2011 Virtuoso Award, which recognizes "a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through performances in film this past year," are Lesley Manville ("Another Year"), John Hawkes ("Winter's Bone"), Jacki Weaver ("Animal Kingdom") and Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit").
The 2011 edition of the SBIFF will run January 27-February 6. The complete lineup is provided on the SBIFF homepage.
Below is the list of world and U.S. premieres playing at the 2011 SBIFF, with synopses provided by the festival:
"1778 Stories of Me and My Wife," Japan
Directed by Mamoru Hoshi
Cast: Yuko Takeuchi, Ren Ohsugi, Michiko Kichise, Shôsuke Tanihara
His beloved wife has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, with only a year to live. When a doctor informs the husband that laughter can raise a patient’s resistance to disease, he resolves to write a short story for his wife every single day. Based on a heart-rending true story of a famous science fiction writer, Taku Mayumura, and his devotion to his wife, Setsuko.
"A Deeper Shade of Blue," Australia
Directed by Jack McCoy
Hawaiian Surf Culture conquered the World. Master surf filmmaker Jack McCoy ventures into a new realm with his latest feature.
"Bringing to China," China/India/USA
Directed by Kevin McKiernan
This film is a father's 'love letter' to his adult daughter, a young Santa Barbara woman struggling to bring Martin Luther King's dream of non-violence to China.
"Carmen in 3D," UK – CLOSING NIGHT
Directed by Julian Napier
Cast: Christine Rice, Bryan Hymel, Aris Argiris, Maija Kovalevska, Dawid Kimberg, Nicolas Courjal, Elena Xanthoudakis, Paula Murrih
"Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist," USA
Directed by Peter Jay Brown
Featuring: Paul Watson, Bob Hunter, Peter Brown
This is not your normal eco-film!
"Crazy Wisdom: The Life & Times of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche," Canada/USA
Directed by Johanna Demetrakas
"Crazy Wisdom" is the long-awaited feature documentary to explore the life, teachings, and "crazy wisdom" of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a pivotal figure in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West.
"Destination Orcas," USA
Directed by Erik Hatch
Cast: Tony Tieu, Pablo Favela, Erik Hatch, Mike Pugh
A 16 day skateboard adventure from Santa Barbara CA to Orcas Island, WA. Four of the most infamous skateboarders in Santa Barbara hop in a rental van and explore the US West Coast.
Directed by Nick Brandestini
A documentary film about an isolated community at the end of a weathered road in Death Valley, California.
"Downhill: The Bill Johnson Story," USA
Directed by Zeke Piestrup
Cast: Bill Johnson, Phil Mahre, Lindsey Vonn
The story of the impossible rise and tragic fall of an Olympic champion.
"Doyald Young, Logotype Designer," USA
Directed by Scott Erickson
Cast: Doyald Young, Stefan Bucher
From humble beginnings in a small Texas town eight decades ago comes legendary typographer, logotype designer, author, and teacher Doyald Young.
"Face to Face," Australia
Directed by Michael Rymer
Cast: Luke Ford, Laura Gordon, Alicia Attwood, Ra Chapman, Lauren Clair, Vince Colosimo
A group of Australians from diverse backgrounds gather to decide the fate of a violent young man. An Australian '12 Angry Men', only there's 10, including 4 women.
"Finding Kind," USA
Directed by Lauren Parsekian
Cast: Lauren Parsekian, Molly Stroud
Two girls packed their bags and traveled across America to interview hundreds of females about the mean girl phenomenon.
"Good For Nothing," New Zealand
Directed by Mike Wallis
Cast: Inge Rademeyer, Cohen Holloway, Jon Pheloung, Richard Thompson, Toa Waaka, Tony Wyeth, Steve Cronin, Mark Norrie
A unique Western about an odd romance between a savage outlaw and a strong-willed English lady.
"Last Man In Paradise," USA
Directed by Michael James Love, Tina Love
An eccentric champion of the history of humble things faces bulldozers as he fights for his unique cabin.
Directed by William Eubank
Cast: Gunner Wright, Bradley Horn, Troy Mittleider, Roger Fanter, Jessee Hotchkiss, Tony Cohen
An astronaut on the International Space Station, loses contact with earth, and becomes stranded for 7 years.
"Make A Movie Like Spike," USA/Mexico
Directed by J. Smith
Cast: Jamil Walker Smith, Malcolm Goodwin, Michael Trotter, Christine Dunford
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
"Pablo’s Hippos," UK/Colombia
Directed by Antonio Von Hildebrand, Lawrence Elman
Pablo's Hippos recounts the absurd and paradoxical history of Colombia's thirty-year struggle with international drug trafficking, at once a farce and a tragedy, as seen through the eyes of the extravagant pet of the most powerful drug baron in history: a hippopotamus named Pablo.
"Patisserie (Coin de rue)," Japan
Directed by Yoshihiro Fukagawa
Cast: Yosuke Eguchi, Yu Aoi, Noriko Eguchi, Hiroyuki Onoue, Urara Awata
Fate draws together a brilliant patissier who made a sudden exit from the world of pastry and the daughter of a small-town cake shop who ventures to the big city in search of her sweetheart, into a pastry shop brimming over with delectable cakes and life stories — A bittersweet gem of a story that will warm your heart with just one, joyful bite.
"Phunny Business: A Black Comedy," USA
Directed by John Davies
Featuring: Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, Bernie Mac, Jamie Foxx, Dave Chappelle, Craig Robinson, JB Smoove
Comedy, politics and race collide in this story of Chicago's first black comedy club, All Jokes Aside.
"Remain With Me (Reste avec moi)," Canada
Directed by Robert Ménard
Cast: Danielle Proulx, Gérard Poirier, Vincent Bilodeau, Louis Morissette, Maxim Roy
In the genre of ensemble films, Reste avec moi tells the stories of individuals whose harmonious lives are shaken by a betrayal.
"Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist," USA
Directed by Scott Erickson
Richard Koci Hernandez is at the forefront of the next generation of journalism. At 12 years old, Koci began his obsession with photography and his love of visual storytelling with a trip to the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite.
"Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul," Germany/USA
Directed by Kai Sehr
Featuring: Louisa Menke, Shams Razi, Sharna Nolan, Oliver Percovich, Kenny Reed
Inspired by Skateistan, Afghanistan's first skateboarding school, this emotional feature-length documentary is a journey deep into the lives of Afghanistan's urban youth.
"Someplace With A Mountain," USA
Directed by Steve Goodall
A one-hour documentary about a very special group of people: The Lapita Navigators, the proud forefathers of many cultures in the tropical Pacific. They are losing their homes and crops because of sea level rise. Their livelihood and culture are dramatically threatened as the islands they live on are flooding day by day. The outcome and conclusion of this story will be told in the context of an event celebrating their living culture, a culture at a cross roads of great importance for all of us. For some of them, it will be the beginning of an Epic Journey to a new land.
"Stoked & Broke," USA
Directed by Cyrus Sutton
Featuring: Ryan Burch, Cyrus Sutton, Richard Kenvin
A Staycation Surfari Epic on Zero Dollars...
"That Side of a Shadow," USA
Directed by Ricky Fosheim
Cast: Jeffery A. Baker, Kristin Erickson, Dillon Tucker, Virginia Cassavetes
Two best friends must rob the gas station they work at in order to pay off a bad debt.
"That’s What I Am," USA – CENTERPIECE GALA
Directed by Mike Pavone
Cast: Ed Harris, Chase Ellison, Molly Parker, Daniel Roebuck, Randy Orton, Daniel Yelsky, Alexander Walters, Mia Rose Frampton and Amy Madigan
I'm a teacher. I'm a singer. I'm a writer. That's what I am.
"The Still Point," France
Directed by Taki Bibelas
Featuring: Miklos Dora, Tom Morey, Mark Cunningham, Mike Doyle, George Downing, Skip Frye, Ricky Grigg, Joey Cabell, Brian Keaulana
A T.S. Eliot poem inspires a film about water and the ocean that is told by world’s legendary pioneer surfers.
Directed by Morgan Neville
Intimate, music-driven story traces James Taylor, Carole King, and the California singer/songwriter scene as it converges in and around LA's Troubadour club during the late 1960s/early 1970s.
"Way of the Ocean," Australia
Directed by Matt Kleiner
Featuring: Asher Pacey, Adam Robertson, Josh Kerr, Kelly Slater
Way of the Ocean is an intimate portrait of Australia's picturesque coastlines and the world class waves they provide.
"We Still Live Here (As Nutayunean)," USA
Directed by Anne Makepeace
As Nutayunean tells the amazing story of the return of the Wampanoag language, the first time a language with no Native speakers has been revived in this country.
"180 (180º)," Mexico
Directed by Fernando Kalife
Cast: Manuel García Rulfo, Elizabeth Valdez, Eduardo Blanco, Iliana Fox, Rodrigo Cachero, Daniel Martínez
Life could always turn around. 180º is the story of Salvador, a man who had everything in life, except himself, and a life.
"A Life Begins" (Une vie qui commence), Canada
Directed by Michel Monty
Cast: Charles Antoine Perreault, Julie LeBreton, Mathis Brisson, Yves Sauvé
A twelve year old loses his doctor father to an overdose.
"Asleep in the Sun" (dormer al sol), Argentina
Directed by Alejandro Chomski
Cast: Norma Argentina, Carlos Belloso
The Life of a gentle neighborhood man changes abruptly when his wife is confined and he finds out that they are part of an operation of souls and bodies traffic.
"Belvedere," Bosnia/Herzegovina (Festival Premiere)
Directed by Ahmed Imamović
Cast: Sadžida Šetić, Nermin Tulić, Minka (Emina) Muftić, Armin Rizavnović, Adis Omerović
Fifteen years after the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan conflict, a determined widow searching for the remains of her husband and son quietly attempts to rebuild her life by caring for her troubled extended family.
"Blind Spot," Canada
Directed by Fabrice Barrilliet, Nicolas Bolduc, Julien Knafo, Marie Hélène Panisset
Cast: Daniel Parent, Hélène Florent, Mario Saint-Amand, Erik Duhamel, Maxim Roy, Judith Baribeau, Sylvain Bissonnette
Four thirtysomethings undergo various degrees of drama, each at maximum intensity.
"By Day and By Night" (De dia y de noche), Mexico
Directed by Alejandro Molina
Cast: Sandra Echeverría, Manuel Balbi, Gala Montes, Fernando Becerril, Juan Carlos Colombo, Ari Brickman, Andrea Damián.
"Dance Marathon," Poland
Directed by Magdalena Holland-Lazarkiewicz
Cast: Krzysztof Skonieczny, Agnieszka Podsiadlik, Lukasz Simlat, Dariusz Toczek, Olga Frycz, Joanna Kulig, Bartlomiej Topa
A comedy from Poland about a crowd that has gathered for a dance competition in the provincial town of Dabie.
Directed by Laure Charpentier
Cast: Lou Doillon, Marie Kremer, Thierry Lhermitte, Virginie Pradal, Marisa Paredes
In Paris 60's nightlife, George, a charismatic and adventurous young woman, becomes Gigola, a kind of gigolo for women only.
"Heart of Auschwitz" (Le Coeur d’Auschwitz), Canada
Directed by Carl Leblanc
The inspiring story of a small heart-shaped booklet , a birthday gift handmade by Auschwitz inmates for their friend Fania Landau, on December 12th, 1944.
"Just Between Us," Croatia/Serbia/Slovenia
Directed by Rajko Grlic
Cast: Miki Manojlovic, Bojan Navojec, Ksenija Marinkovic, Daria Lorenci
A wicked, indiscreet contemporary story set in Zagreb about the whirling erotic passions that percolate beneath the dull, composed surface of everyday bourgeois life and manners.
Directed by Julian Pinder
Featuring: Chris Berry, Daniel Campesino, Jimmy Carter, Fred Goldfarb, Keith Griffith
Welcome to the modern-day Wild West. Grab your guns.
"Light in Darkness" (Luz nas trevas),Brazil
Directed by Helena Ignez, Icaro Martins
Cast: Ney Matogrosso, André Guerreiro Lopes, Djin Sganzerla, Bruna Lombardi, Sandra Corveloni and Maria Luisa Mendonça
The story of the legendary bandit Red Light and his son All or Nothing, the cut-rate outlaw worshiped by woman.
Directed by Maria Sødahl
Cast: Lena Endre, Bryan Brown, Cecilie A. Mosli, Line Verndal, Catherine Emmanuel
A movie about love, betrayal and desperation in a “coming of-age” story for adults.
"Miss Mouche," Belgium
Directed by Bernard Halut
Cast: Mona Jabé, Bernard Cogniaux, Valérie Bauchau, Chantal Pirotte, Thierry de Coster
With her cell phone, Nina, 12, films everything that happens in her family...
"Mourning for Anna" (Trois temps après la mort d'Anna), Canada
Directed by Catherine Martin
Cast: Guylaine Tremblay, François Papineau, Sheila Jaffé, Denise Gagnon
After the tragic death of her daughter, a woman must choose between living and dying.
"No Doubt," South Korea
Directed by Park Soo-young
In a peaceful town, a tragic death leads to two men’s desperate crime race.
"Nostalgia for the Light" (Nostalgia de la luz), Chile/France/Germany
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
A breath-taking exploration of the cosmos, the desert, and the disappeared.
"Piché : Entre ciel et terre," Canada
Directed by Sylvain Archambault
Cast: Michel Cote, Maxime Leflaguais, Sophie Pregent, Normand d'Amour
Drawing on his instincts and his tumultuous past, Robert Piché finds the strength and composure necessary to land his plane after it runs out of gas, saving the lives of 306 passengers in the process.
"Red Light Revolution," China/Australia
Directed by Sam Voutas
Cast: Zhao Jun, Vivid Wang, Jiang Xiduo, Masanobu Otsuka, Tess Liu, Bo Bing, Tian Huimin
China's first sex shop comedy follows a Beijinger who opens an adult store, sparking a sexual revolution in his neighborhood.
"Sarah’s Key," France – OPENING NIGHT
Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Aidan Quinn
While researching an article on the Vel’d’Hiv Roundup in 1942 France, Julia, an American journalist stumbles across the story of Sarah, a ten year old Jewish girl who desperately tried to save her younger brother from the police by locking him in a cupboard. Through her research, Julia comes across a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah and change the way she sees the world.
"Soul of Sand" (Pairon Talle), India
Directed by Sidharth Srinivasan
Cast: Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Saba Joshi, Avtar Sahni, Geeta Bisht
A watchman at an abandoned mine is drawn into a bizarre triangle after a wealthy landlord’s daughter and her lower-caste lover seek refuge with him from a masked killer wreaking havoc across the Indian countryside.
"The Abandoned" (Ostavljeni), Bosnia/Herzegovina
Directed by Adis Bakrach
Cast: Mira Furlan, Mirsad Tuka, Tony Grga, Zijah Sokolovic, Mirela Lambic, Meto Jovanovski, Dragan Marinkovic...
A look at the Bosnian war through the eyes of a boy named Alen, who was born not as the fruit of love, but of hatred, and is part of a whole new people, nameless and unwanted, whose mothers were raped.
"The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan," UK
Directed by Phil Grabsky
Following the international hit The Boy who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan, The Boy Mir will cover not one year but ten. It will track the cheeky, enthusiastic Mir from a childish eight to a fully grown eighteen-year-old. Over those ten years, it will be a journey into early adulthood in one of the toughest places on earth; a journey that mirrors the current and vitally important story of Afghanistan.
"The Colors of the Mountain" (Los colores de la Montaña), Panama/Colombia
Directed by Carlos Cesar Arbelaez
Cast: Genaro Aristizabal, Natalia Cueller, Hernan Mendez
A modern-day portrayal of daily life in a remote part of the mountainous Colombian countryside, set around the friendship between Manuel and Julián.
"The First Stone," Iran
Directed by Ebrahim Forouzesh
Cast: Mohsen Tanabandeh, Andishe Fouladvand
HassanAli is the first person in the village who buys himself a gravestone. All villagers are surprised by HassanAli, making fun of him.
"The Great Vazquez," Spain
Directed by Oscar Aibar
Cast: Santiago Segura, Alex Angulo, Manolo Solo
Is it possible to live aside of the system, thinking only about the present and oneself? A feature film about Manuel Vázquez, the best comic book author in Barcelona during the sixties, but, mainly, a man with a very particular way of living his life.
"The Knot (Musubime)," Japan
Directed by Yuichi Onuma
Cast: Muck Akazawa, Junichi Kawamoto, So Hirosawa
You can never wash away the past.
"The Tenants (Os Inquilinos)," Brazil
Directed by Sérgio Bianchi
Cast: Marat Descartes, Ana Carbatti, Umberto Magnani
After three mysterious men move into a smoky Sao Paulo suburb, a neighboring couple becomes obsessed with the men’s clandestine activities and the ozone of violence that descends upon their once-tranquil neighborhood.
Directed by Viktor Chouchkov Jr.
Cast: Yavor Baharov, Radina Kardjilova, Ovanes Torosian, Alexander Sano, Georgi Staykov
Political changes, corruption, social suppression – can a young love survive those times of turmoil and chaos?
"Togetherness Supreme," Kenya
Directed by Nathan Collett
Cast: Wilson Maina, Martha Kisaka, Geoffrey Jefferson Ong'ong'o, Chrispine Onyango, Bill Oloo, Teddy Onyango
An artist struggles for change in the midst of tribal and tension
"To Hell With The Ugly," Spain
Directed by Nacho G. Velilla
Cast: Pere Arquillué, Javier Cámara, Silvia Casanova, Juan Diego, Julián López
What happens when the woman of your life is married to your brother?
"Women in Temptation" (Zeny v pokuseni), Czech Republic
Directed by Jirí Vejdelek
Cast: Eliska Balzerová, Vojtech Dyk, Michal Gulyás, Jirí Helekal
When a marriage counselor is abandoned by her husband for a younger woman, she sets out for new companionship.
"You Are Here," Canada
Directed by Daniel Cockburn
Cast: Tracy Wright, R.D. Reid, Anand Rajaram, Nadia Litz
A meta-detective story.