Film buffs need wait no longer: the 17th Santa Barbara International Film opened Wednesday night at the Arlington Theatre and is set to entertain audiences through March 3.

, The 2002 festival is shorter and sweeter than previous years – the duration has been cut in half due to internal budgetary constraints. But packed tightly into those five days are 10 world premieres, six North American premieres and three U.S. premieres. In addition, there will be several special presentations. On March 1, a salute to Anjelica Huston will include a screening of “Prizzi’s Honor,” followed by a Q & A session moderated by “Entertainment Tonight’s” Leonard Maltin. On March 2, the SBIFF will present a Modern Master Award to Sean Penn; the event will include an interview with the actor and a series of film clips.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has continued to grow in popularity and esteem since it began in 1985. Much of its success may be attributed to the ideal location – close enough for Los Angeleans to indulge in their favorite pastime (driving) but far enough away to be ever so slightly exotic, perhaps even European. Some have even described Santa Barbara as California’s own French Riviera.

Still overshadowed by the main event, but becoming increasingly influential, Digital Days 2002 is organized by local software heavyweights Richard Corwin and Mark Sylvester. Several of the seminars will be of particular interest to students, including a presentation on March 3 entitled “Missing Data. What They Won’t Teach You in School.” Day passes for these events have been reduced to $15 for students with valid IDs. Tickets for individual film screenings can be purchased at the door 15 minutes before show time and range from $6 to $8 for students. Tickets for special events can be pre-purchased at the Arlington Theater. For further information, including show times, see [].