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Posted on January 16th, 2009 - Filed in News & Gossip, Public Events - 0 Comments / Leave one

If the star wattage is pulsing on State Street, it can only mean the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is back in town.

The 24th annual event opens Thursday and will feature more than 200 films during its 11-day run. Clint Eastwood, Kate Winslet and Penelope Cruz are among the celebrity honorees.

As usual, the event figures to be a hotbed for Academy Award hopefuls; nominations will be announced Thursday, the same day the festival starts.

Celebrity tributes: Kate Winslet will receive the Montecito Award on Jan. 23 at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St. Penelope Cruz will be honored with the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award on Jan. 24 at the Arlington. Kristin Scott Thomas is slated to get the Cinema Vanguard Award on Jan. 27 at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. The Virtuosos Awards will salute actors Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo and Michael Shannon on Jan. 28 at the Lobero Theatre. Clint Eastwood is in line for the Modern Master Award, the festival’s highest honor, on Jan. 29 at the Arlington. Director David Fincher, the festival’s guest director this year, will be feted on Jan. 30 at the Arlington. Mickey Rourke is up for the American Riviera Award on Jan. 31 at the Arlington. All celebrity tributes will start at 8 p.m.

Films: The festival will feature 21 world premieres, 29 U.S premieres and works from 41 countries, including features, shorts, documentaries, nature and surfing films.

The opening night film is Rod Lurie’s Nothing But the Truth, starring Kate Beckinsale, Vera Farmiga, Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, David Schwimmer, Matt Dillon and Noah Wyle. The Feb. 1 closing night film is Lightbulb, directed by Jeff Balsmeyer and starring Dallas Roberts, Jeremy Renner and Ayelet Zurer.

Panels: “Directors on Directing,” 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24; “It Starts With the Script,” 2 p.m. Jan. 24; “Movers & Shakers,” 11 a.m. Jan. 31; and “Creative Forces: Women in the Biz,” 2 p.m. Jan. 31. All are at the Lobero.

Other: AppleBox, a family film section for children, will run the mornings of Jan. 24-25, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Arlington. Student screenwriting and filmmaking competitions will take place. The traditional “3rd Weekend,” offering free screenings of winning festival entries, will run Feb. 6-8 at the Riviera Theatre, 2044 Alameda Padre Serra.

Tickets: Celebrity tributes cost $49-$63; the Virtuosos event is $22. Individual screening tickets are sold 15 minutes prior to showtimes for $13 at the venue based on available seating. “Mini-Paks,” good for four or 10 films, are $53 and $118, respectively. Panels cost $29-$39. Packages, offering a combination of events, range from $225-$700; likewise, passes are available from $300-$1,600. For more information, call the Lobero box office at 963-0761 or visit

General information: Call 963-0023 or visit


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