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Santa Barbara International Film Festival

There’s no denying that Santa Barbara loves films and everything film related, including reel education. It was the recent family-friendly Silver Screen Celebration that kicked off the spirit of the famed Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), approaching 29 years in 2014.

Douglas Fairbanks’ 1920 classic silent film, “The Mask of Zorro,” was screened at the historic Arlington Theatre, as part of the 2014 film fundraiser. This is the site of SBIFF red carpet festival events.

Roger Durling, the festival’s executive director, has brought the best of times to the SBIFF, from award-winning actors, filmmakers and films to the yearly free children’s outreach programs. Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies welcomes students to view select films during the SBIFF, student filmmakers participate in the 10-10-10 competition, and the Applebox Family Films and third week free screenings are available for Santa Barbara residents.

Clad as a swashbuckling masked Zorro, Roger Durling gave a warm welcome to the Santa Barbara film crowd. With the collaboration of the Santa Barbara Theatre Organ Society, organist Adam Aceto’s exciting score brought musical life to the “Zorro” film with his accompaniment on the rare Wonder Morton Pipe Organ, one of five in existence.

A captive audience watched the adventures of the feared masked man of early California. Zorro, actually a wealthy man, protected the poor while in disguise and fought to rid California of corruption, as he sought the affections of the beautiful Lolita.

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Many masked Zorros arrived at the beautiful Santa Barbara Historical Museum for the masquerade bash following the silent film. They were joined by the ladies adorned in smashing attire reflecting the life and times of early California. Guests were treated to tastings from Santa Barbara’s top chefs and caterers, including Olio e Limon, Arlington Tavern, Chocolate Maya, World Cuisine Experience and many more.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Masquerades at the party | Barbara Singer Photo

Tasty treats were sampled from Chef Brenda of the SB Art Museum and Cosmo from Olio e Limon. It was a sweet way to boost SBIFF enthusiasm through live entertainment, great food, local wine and beer, plus numerous photo opportunities.

Suddenly the masquerade crowd experienced a dramatic sword fight duel in the courtyard between a Zorro character Nick Holmes and a villain challenger, Allen Irwin. Staged by the Presidio Fencing Club, the duel augmented the ambience of the event as excited masked guests looked on.

A regular feature of the SBIFF is the students’ 10-10-10 competition for enrollees in Santa Barbara high schools and colleges. They are invited to submit a 10-page screenwriting sample or a five-minute directorial filmmaking endeavor.

Ten writers are selected to write a 10-minute script, which are matched with ten filmmakers. During the SBIFF, the students shoot and complete their 10-minute short film, which is then screened by industry professionals and SBIFF representatives. The winning films are chosen and finally screened for the festival at the closing awards event. Perhaps it is here where many careers are launched.

As the  SBIFF continues its success, Santa Barbara  youngsters appreciate films early on from funds raised from events like the Silver Screen Celebration. The 29th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place Jan. 30 – Feb. 9, 2014.

For more information, visit sbfilmfestival.org or call (805) 963-0023.

Photo Credit: Barbara Singer

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