Under executive director Roger Durling, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (taking place January 30 – February 9) has flourished by riding the awards season wave via starry onstage interviews with Oscar contenders. Every year, screenwriters, directors and producers promote their causes on panels, and the likes of Viggo Mortensen, Rami Malek, Yalitza Aparicio, Glenn Close, Sam Elliott, and Richard E. Grant will submit to in-depth tributes from the likes of Leonard Maltin and Pete Hammond, among others.
On the festival’s first weekend, I will have the pleasure of a wide-ranging conversation with Best Actress Oscar-nominee Melissa McCarthy, star of “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
And I will also moderate the annual “It Starts with the Script” panel on Saturday, including Will Fetters (“A Star Is Born”), Lauren Greenfield (“Generation Wealth”), Kevin Willmott (“BlacKkKlansman”), Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”), Brian Currie (“Green Book”), Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”).
Also on Saturday, The Los Angeles Times’ Glenn Whipp will moderate the annual Producers Panel, including this year Bill Gerber (“A Star Is Born”), Raymond Mansfield (“BlacKkKlansman”), Nate Moore (“Black Panther”), Ceci Dempsey (“The Favourite”), Jim Burke (“Green Book”), Nicole Grindle (“Incredibles 2”), Jonathan King (“Roma”), and Kevin Messick (“Vice”).
The 34th edition also boasts sixty-three world premieres and 59 U.S. premieres from 48 countries led off by opening night film “Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy,” with “Spoons: A Santa Barbara Story” as the hometown closer.