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Santa Barbara International Film Festival line up

The 2007 Santa Barbara International Film Festival announces their slate of films for the 22nd installment. The festival, which welcomes Chrysler and The New Yorker as Premiere Sponsors, takes place over 11 days beginning Thursday, January 25, through Sunday, February 4, and will feature 22 World Premieres, 18 US Premieres, and introduce films from 40 countries. “This is the most ambitious and most diverse line up of events and films the Festival has ever had,” commented SBIFF Director Roger Durling. “There’s a film to satisfy any film-lover’s taste in here.”

It was also announced that the SBIFF will highlight the career achievements of filmmaker Bill Condon, director of this year’s “Dreamgirls,” who will be honored with the Montecito Award, sponsored by UGG Australia and The New Yorker. “Seeing Bill Condon’s latest film simply solidified my admiration for him,” Durling said. “His talent has shone with his writing and direction on ‘Gods and Monsters,’ ‘Kinsey’ and now on ‘Dreamgirls’ and I’m pleased that we here in Santa Barbara will have the opportunity to recognize his wonderful style and achievements.

“We’re particularly proud of our honorees this year,” continues Durling. “Together, our honorees are at the top of the heap of the best talent in the past year of film.”

The special tribute presentations will once again be created by long-time fest tribute producer Paul Fagen, of P. Fagen Productions and will each take place at the historic Arlington Theatre. The Outstanding Performance of the Year Award tribute to Helen Mirren in recognition of her performance in Stephen Frears’ “The Queen,” will take place on Friday, January 26, and is sponsored by The Butcher Family Foundation and Innovative Skincare. Will Smith, who gives a compelling performance in the inspirational film based on a true story, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” will receive The Modern Master Award with a tribute moderated by Leonard Maltin on Saturday, January 27. The evening is sponsored by Lucky Brand Jeans and Four Seasons Resort: The Biltmore. Bill Condon’s Montecito Award Tribute will take place on Monday, January 29. Moderated by Pete Hammond, the evening will also feature appearances by some of the “’Dreamgirls” cast and will be sponsored by UGG Australia and The New Yorker. The American Riviera Award will be presented to Forest Whitaker, whose outstanding performance in “The Last King of Scotland” has been receiving accolades and topping critics’ lists across the country. The evening will be moderated by film critic Pete Hammond on Saturday, February 3.

The Sir David Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking tribute will be presented to Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim for their powerful documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” with last year’s recipient James Cameron presenting the award. The evening is moderated by famed cinematographer Mike DeGruy and will take place Friday, February 2.

Opening Night will feature the highly-anticipated film “Factory Girl,” starring Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen, and directed by George Hickenlooper. “Factory Girl” imaginatively unfolds the comet-like rise and fall of 60s “It Girl” Edie Sedgwick, the blazing superstar who came to define both the glamour and the tragedy of our celebrity-obsessed culture. Sedgwick, coincidentally, was not only born in Santa Barbara, but she died there as well. The film’s Sienna Miller and director George Hickenlooper will be among the cast expected to attend the opening night festivities, which will be sponsored by Salvatore Ferragamo and Studio 7. Following the screening the festivities will continue with a party recreating the Italian lifestyle as seen through the prism of cinema at Paseo Nuevo in downtown Santa Barbara.

The Centerpiece Film is Michael Apted’s “Amazing Grace,” starring Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney and Rufus Sewell. This is an inspiring story of how one man’s passion and perseverance changed the world. Based on the true life story of William Wilberforce played by Ioan Gruffudd (“Fantastic Four” and its sequel “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”), a leader of the British abolition movement, the film chronicles his epic struggle to pass a law to end the slave trade in the late 18th century. Along the way, Wilberforce meets intense opposition from members of Parliament who feel the slave trade is tied to the stability of the British Empire. Several friends, including Wilberforce’s minister, John Newton, played by Albert Finney (“Ocean’s Twelve,” “Erin Brockovich”), a reformed slave ship captain who penned the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,” urge him to see the cause through. In addition to director Apted, also attending is cast member Ioan Gruffud.

The Closing Night film is “Gray Matters,” featuring the directorial debut of Sue Kramer and starring Heather Graham, Thomas Cavanagh, Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon, and Sissy Spacek. With plenty of references to 1940’s classical Hollywood, the film revamps the screwball comedy with a gay twist when Heather Graham’s character falls for the same woman as her brother does. Graham, Cavanagh, Moynahan, and director Kramer are among those expected to attend. Closing night festivities are sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent and El Paseo Restaurant.

The SBIFF is thrilled to begin a new tradition by inviting a Guest Director each year who will personally select the films for a retrospective of their work. Director and DGA President Michael Apted will be the SBIFF’s first Guest Director and he has selected the following films to be screened: “49 Up,” his new film, “Amazing Grace,” which will be screened as the Festival’s Centerpiece, and a third film to be announced. After a beginning as a researcher in television, Apted became known for his award-winning films such as “Agatha,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” and “Nell.”

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