As the reels and red carpets roll in to downtown Santa Barbara this week and next, locals and visitors alike have plenty to enjoy during the ten-day festival. A total of 190 films, 16 hotels, 36 restaurants, and 24 world premiers have come together for a cornucopia of entertainment and discovery.
In his preface to the festival executive director, Roger Durling, urged attendees and filmmakers to have a sense of wonder and exploration as they experience the festival. Likewise, the opening night film set the tone of wondrous exploration with the world premier of Fisher Stevens’ and Robert Nixon’s latest, Mission Blue. From the creators of The Cove, the opening feature tells the story of the nation’s top oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, and her life of aquatic discovery, passion for the ocean, and hope for healing through stunning underwater shots and personal interviews. The documentary acts as a tribute to Mike deGruy, Santa Barbara local ocean-loving and filmmaking legend, and also nicely introduces the week’s must-see surf films such as Bella Vita, A Life Outside, and The Old, the Young, & the Sea. Not to be missed is Driven, which documents local channel swimmers who manage the dangerous currents of the Santa Barbara Channel in nothing but swimsuits and goggles.
While featuring plenty of outdoors adventure films, fictions, dramas, and comedies, the festival also offers discoveries closer to home, namely in the kitchen. In addition to impressive food displays from the 36 restaurant sponsors in the “Film Feastival,” there are also a few noteworthy foodie flicks such as, Make Hummus Not War, Cesar’s Grill, and Dog Days. While many passes are sold out, there’s still time to catch a few individual eventsor some of the free options!