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Bridges, Blunt among Santa Barbara film festival honorees

by Grace
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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will throw a valentine to newly minted Golden Globe winner Jeff Bridges, honor up-and-coming English actress Emily Blunt and hand out a nature filmmaking award to a controversial film about dolphin hunting off Japan.

Those were the major late additions that Roger Durling, the festival’s executive director, announced Tuesday during his annual pre-festival news conference at the Hotel Santa Barbara.

“I don’t like to unwrap all the Christmas gifts at once,” Durling said later.

The festival’s milestone 25th edition runs Feb. 4-14 across Santa Barbara. Some 200 films from 45 countries will be screened, including 18 world premieres and 28 U.S. premieres.With Bridges, who won the best actor Golden Globe on Sunday for his role as a hardscrabble country singer in “Crazy Heart,” the festival now has winners of most Golden Globe drama categories coming to Santa Barbara. Other honorees are: James Cameron (best director and picture for “Avatar”); Sandra Bullock (best dramatic actress for “The Blind Side”); and Christoph Waltz (best supporting actor for “Inglourious Basterds”).

They and other festival attendees are solid bets to be Oscar contenders when the Academy Award nominations come out Feb. 2.

Durling called the 25th festival “a joyous landmark,” and he noted that it’s gone on despite growing pains, bad economies, floods, canceled screenings, lost copies of films and a writer’s strike. Phyllis de Picciotto, who will serve on this year’s film jury, founded the event in 1986 off a small grant from the city. Durling said the festival “has become one of the city’s most important cultural events.”

While other film festivals have been reduced or folded because of the weak economy, the Santa Barbara festival has been “fortunate in that we have not had to downsize,” he said.

The festival also will celebrate 100 years of filmmaking in Santa Barbara, screening three shorts shot there in 1910 — the year an early U.S. film studio opened in the city.

Among this year’s highlights:

– Bridges will be honored with screenings of “Crazy Heart,” past work and a conversation on Feb. 14, which will be Jeff Bridges Day in Santa Barbara, where he lives.

– Bullock will receive the American Riviera Award on Feb. 5, and Cameron will receive the Modern Master Award, the festival’s highest honor, on Feb. 6.

– Blunt, star of “The Young Victoria” and best known to audiences for her breakout role in “The Devil Wears Prada,” will receive a Virtuoso Award on Feb. 7. Others receiving Virtuosos will be Carey Mulligan, Saiorse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Stuhlbarg.

– English actor Colin Firth will receive the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award on Feb. 13 for his role in “A Single Man.”

– Julianne Moore, who co-starred with Firth in that film, will receive the Montecito Award on Feb. 11.

– Vanguard Awards will be handed out Feb. 12. Honorees are Waltz, Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and Stanley Tucci.

– Kathryn Bigelow, who helmed the gritty Iraq bomb-squad drama “The Hurt Locker,” is this year’s guest director and will be honored Feb. 8.

– The David Attenborough Award for excellence in nature filmmaking will go to the makers of “The Cove,” which exposed dolphin slaughters off Tajii, Japan, on Feb. 10.

– The opening night film is “Flying Lessons,” directed by Derek Magyar, shot in Santa Barbara County and starring Christine Lahti, Maggie Grace, Jonathan Tucker, Cary Elwes, Joanna Cassidy and Hal Holbrook.

– The closing night film is “Middle Men,” directed by George Gallo and starring Giovanni Ribisi, Luke Wilson, James Caan, Kelsey Grammer and Kevin Pollack.

Source: VC Star

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