Downtown Santa Barbara will be a lot quieter and hotels will be less packed this weekend than they have been in a while, now that the 22nd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival has rolled up its red carpet.
Publicity director Carol Marshall said far more than the expected 60,000 people attended the 11-day spectacle, which was held at the Arlington Theatre on State Street as well as in other downtown theaters. The turnout was the largest of any festival to date, which Marshall attributed to a better film selection than in past years and the fact that many films featured topics of great relevance to the Santa Barbara community.
“We had something for everybody,” Marshall said. “The events went smoothly and very few ticket holders complained.”
Films ranged from close-ups on the world of sports to environmental activism, most notably Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”Foreign-language films and independent productions that would not normally reach the multiplexes also played.
As happens at every film festival, Santa Barbara offered up several awards to the best of the bunch. Actor Forest Whitaker, recent Oscar nominee for “The Last King of Scotland,” received the American Riviera Award, while actor Will Smith was recognized with the Modern Master Award.
Meanwhile, Helen Mirren won the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in “The Queen,” and Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim were presented with the Attenborough Award for “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Per the trend of the film festivals, local businesses hoped to flourish during the star-studded spectacle, an expectation that for many went unmet.
Angel Silva, floor manager of the Rocks Restaurant & Lounge on State Street, said the restaurant did not receive much business, despite offering specialty cocktails and martinis during the festival.
“We were expecting a lot of business, but we didn’t get it,” Silva said.
Hotel Santa Barbara was one business, however, that greatly benefited from the festival. General manager Tamara Erickson said her hotel has been the hub of the festival for the last 10 years, and this year was no different.
She said the hotel sold out of rooms far in advance and offered special packages for clients that included discounts on not only hotel amenities, but also on restaurants, shopping, and the film festival screenings.