With the start of what looks to be the warmest winter Santa Barbara has seen in years, we here at Artsweek cannot help but get a little giddy at the thought of a new quarter. For us at least, the next few months promise to be action-packed with concerts, events, premieres and festivals that are sure to delight even the pickiest of art critics and the most judgmental of film students. And it is with this in mind that we would like to take the opportunity to organize and compile what amounts to a mere taste of the goodies to come. So, without further ado, Artsweek formally presents the entertainment lover’s guide to winter 2006.

The 21st Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival Packs a Star-Studded Punch

You say festival, we say Festivus! This February marks the 21st year of the renowned Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). It seems to be that the people over at the SBIFF headquarters are on a mission to outdo themselves, and outdo themselves they will, bringing mega-watt celebs like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Naomi Watts, James Cameron and Heath Ledger – just to name a few – to our little spot of coastline starting on Feb. 2. Like any good film fest director, Roger Durling and his band of cohorts are keeping much of the premieres and screenings under wraps until we’re closer to the launch date. Still, we’d like to encourage you to pencil in at least one of the five very “Hollywood” awards ceremonies that have already been confirmed.

At the Arlington Theatre on Feb. 3, the ever-so-dashing producer/director/writer/actor/pig-lover George Clooney will be receiving the Modern Master Award, the festival’s highest recognition of achievement. Other highlights include the festival-opening “Ask the Dusk,” directed by Robert Towne and starring the