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Santa Barbara International Film Festival Draws 31 Oscar Contenders!

Santa Barbara is a very upscale seaside paradise a scant 90 miles up the
coast from Los Angeles, distinguished more for its high rents, distinctive
Spanish architecture and sprawling beachfront university than for the modest
international film festival to which it has been home since 1985. Slowly
building year by year and able to draw easily on Hollywood based talent
because of its relative proximity to Tinseltown, the Santa Barbara fest has
now come into its own and has staked out its claim as a serious contender
along with San Francisco for the title of "most important California film
festival".

Coming on the heels of the foreign press "Golden Globe Awards" held just a
week ago in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara this year has been able to attract a
veritable galaxy of stars, winners of globes and nominees for the upcoming
academy awards. No less than 31 Oscar contenders -- thirty one -- are on the
Santa Barbara guest list. The nominees were announced this morning in the
Los Angeles Times.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which starts this week
(January 25-February 4), has proven once again to have a strong thumb on the
pulse of those likely to shine during the awards season. The Festival was
tickled pink with this morning’s Oscar announcements upon learning that 31
Academy Award nominees will be making an appearance at the 22nd edition of
the festival! Said Festival Director Roger Durling, “It's thrilling to be
able to host these many Academy Award nominees beginning just two days after
the nods were announced! The road to the Santa Barbara Film Festival will
definitely be paved in gold, this year.” Leading the pack is “The Queen”
herself, Dame Helen Mirren who will be recognized with the Outstanding
Performance of the Year Tribute, followed by the festival’s Modern Master
Award recipient, Will Smith, who received a nomination for Best Actor for
his performance in “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Giving Mr. Smith a run for
the money is front-runner Forest Whitaker, set to receive The American
Riviera Award and the recipient of a Best Actor Globe for his role in “The
Last King of Scotland.”

Other scheduled festival attendees who received Oscar nominations include:
Sacha Baron Cohen, the British reicarnation of Groucho Marx, and his
co-writers Ant Hines and Peter Baynham for the hate-it-or-love-it hit
comedy, " BORAT" -- ( personally, I hated it ...) -- African actor Djimon
Honsou, who co-stars in "Blood Diamond" with Leonardo Dicaprio, Jennifer
Hudson of the Motown docu-drama "Dreamgirls", Peter Morgan, Screenwriter of
"The Queen", and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, of "Babel".

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a non-profit organization
"dedicated to enriching local culture and raising consciousness of film as
an art form." The SBIFF presents quality American and world independent
films, Latin American and Asian sidebars as well as documentary cinema
within the beautiful setting of downtown Santa Barbara, a city which happens
to be one of California's most attractive tourist destinations. The SBIFF is
also committed to education through its Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting
Competitions, and educational seminars. Given the demographics of the city
and the presence of a large university population, the SBIFF tends to
attract an affluent film sophisticated local audience while simultaneously
maintaining strong ties with the entertainment industry in nearby Los
Angeles, all of which makes for rather privileged atmosphere – Sounds like a
nice outfit to work for and nice work if you can get it.

ALEX DELEON, LOS ANGELES.

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