Santa Barbara International Film Festival to Open with "Confidence"
by Brian Brooks and Christopher Henderson
The 2003 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) will open with the West Coast premiere James Foley's "Confidence" on February 28. Foley and film star Edward Burns will attend the opening night gala at the Arlington Theater. The following night, the festival will present its Modern Master Award to Oscar-nominated actor Jeff Bridges ("Fearless," "The Big Lebowski").
"'Confidence' is a cleverly executed thriller, sure to be a hit with the audience," said fest head Jon Fitzgerald in a prepared statement. "And to be able to follow this great evening with Jeff Bridges, one of the most accomplished, respected actors, is very exciting."
"Confidence," which played at Sundance and will open the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival, stars Burns as a grifter trying to avenge a friend's death while avoiding mob boss Dustin Hoffman. In addition to its opening night film, the 18th SBIFF will host 10 world premieres, 11 U.S. premieres, and eight foreign Oscar submissions including Baltasar Kormakur's Icelandic drama "The Sea." Among the films in the international competition will be Steven Frears' BAFTA nominated "Pretty Dirty Things," starring Audrey Tautou, Cannes 2002 Prix Du Jury winner, "Divine Intervention," and Gaspar Noe's "Irreversible."
Bridges will be honored for his roles in more than 50 films including Oscar turns for "The Contender," "Starman," "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot," and "The "Last Picture Show." Other films screening in the festival's 10 sections include "Dummy" starring 2003 best actor nominee Adrien Brody. Set to screen in the European cinema section is 2002 Venice Golden Lion winner, "The Magdalene Sisters" by Peter Mullan and the documentary, "OT: Our Town" by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. That film follows a group of high school students who labor to put on Thornton Wilder's "Our Town."
The World Cinema section will screen famed music video director Jonas Akerlund's feature debut "Spun," about a group of crystal meth addicts starring Brittany Murphy, Jason Schwartzman, and John Leguizamo. SBIFF's signature "Surf Sessions" sidebar will screen the surf classic, "Big Wednesday" by director John Milius, who will attend the event as part of the 25th anniversary of the film.
For this year's 18th annual event, SBIFF will inaugurate a master class program called The Rosebud Project bringing together students and film fans to "educate, entertain and facilitate the exploration of cinema as an art form," according to a festival release. Participating in the program are industry professionals including Oscar nominee Todd Haynes ("Far From Heaven") who will participate in retrospectives and discussions following screenings. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival closes on March 9.