Thursday night's threatening rain didn't hamper logistics or dampen the spirits of Opening Night festivities for the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
The SBIFF searchlight was flashing furiously in all directions from State Street and could be seen for miles due to the low cloud ceiling. And just before show time, the moon actually made a cameo, if but for a few minutes.
Indeed, it was a good start to the 10-day fest.
Hundreds arrived at the sparkling Arlington Theater early and patiently waited to catch a glimpse of the all-things-Hollywood action along the red carpet runway.
Fans of Paula Patton – a wonderful actress who gained star power from action film Mission: Impossible-The Ghost Protocol – weren't disappointed. While all the actors and actresses along the carpet were gracious interviews, it was Patton who had fans shouting "we love you Paula!" She returned the compliment with hugs and posing for pictures.
Kicking off the array of movies, special honors and cinematic workshops was the U.S. Premiere of Disconnect. The very impressive ensemble cast was directed by Henry-Alex Rubin, a veteran assistant director. His edgy feature film debut is about how social media is changing interpersonal communications, often with unforeseen consequences...sometimes tragic and heart-wrenching, and sometimes for the better.
Along the red carpet Rubin discussed this finely crafted film, and how his job was less in directing people and allowing these great actors to be themselves and not 'act,' and to stay out of their way as much as possible.
There were future journalists in the making at the premiere. Adrienne Howard and Shen Brewer, 7th graders at Santa Barbara Middle School, were dressed like celebs themselves, but asked tough questions along the rope. Paula Patton reminisced about "playing pretend as a kid, and wearing Mom's dresses...It's a dream come true to be in movies."
Before the film, festival director Roger Durling honored noted documentary film maker Mike DeGruy, who tragically died in a helicopter crash last year. Mike always said it's important to get the audience to say 'yes' to a film," said Durling, "to get them to buy into it." With that, Durling prompted the audience to say...YES!
After the film, the audience was able to re-connect en masse at the opening night gala, with the Paseo Nuevo transformed into a lively plaza maze, replete with bars, DJ's and food stations from many of the local eateries.