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Santa Barbara Film Fest: Opener, Bullock, Cameron, Panels

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 5, 2010 at 2:40AM

I'm in Santa Barbara for its 25th film fest: 196 films, 18 world premieres, 28 U.S. premieres and a program from 45 countries. The festival runs through Sunday, Feb. 14. Per usual, I'm ensconced in a twee bungalow at the Simpson House--sweet muffins on arrival, Laura Ashley decor, fringed pillows and lamp shades, white venetian blinds, stone fireplace, hot tub, soft bed, classical music.
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Thompson on Hollywood

I'm in Santa Barbara for its 25th film fest: 196 films, 18 world premieres, 28 U.S. premieres and a program from 45 countries. The festival runs through Sunday, Feb. 14. Per usual, I'm ensconced in a twee bungalow at the Simpson House--sweet muffins on arrival, Laura Ashley decor, fringed pillows and lamp shades, white venetian blinds, stone fireplace, hot tub, soft bed, classical music.

The fest starts off Thursday night with the world premiere of Flying Lessons, from rookie director Derek Magyar. Shot locally in the Santa Ynez Valley, the film stars Christine Lahti, Hal Holbrook and Lost's Maggie Grace.

Friday brings Sandra Bullock's American Riviera Award. Pete Hammond does the honors, while Leonard Maltin will interview Saturday night's Modern Master, James Cameron. Santa Barbara, like Palm Springs, is timed perfectly to lure Oscar contenders eager to woo the town's many Academy voters. Other nominees getting feted in one way or another include Kathryn Bigelow, Jeff Bridges, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Vera Farmiga, Colin Firth, Christoph Waltz, Stanley Tucci, and The Cove director Louie Psihoyos.

Saturday morning I'll conduct my annual writers panel: eight writers talking details about their craft, Inglourious Basterds' Quentin Tarantino (yellow pads and #2 pencils), Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker), Up's Pete Docter (the Pixar method), Up in the Air's Jason Reitman (sans Sheldon Turner), Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated), Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek), Scott Neustadter (500 Days of Summer) and Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious). It's my idea of a good time.

Saturday night I'll not cover Cameron in favor of returning to L.A. for the USC Scripter Awards, which I voted on for the first time this year. I've heard it's worth attending.

This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Festivals, Franchises, Headliners, Stuck In Love, Oscars, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, Avatar, Sandra Bullock, Screenwriters


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.