"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day. And I believe in miracles."
~ Audrey Hepburn


The Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Sometimes I want to kick myself for studying communication in college. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved my classes and professors and am constantly blown away by all the incredible things I learned. It also gives me a sense of pride that UCSB's Communication department was ranked #1 by the National Communication Association. 

 The thing is: I also love film. Growing up with a talented artist for a father and three crazy siblings who were always ready and willing to make fools of themselves behind a camera, it was kind of hard not to. As a child, I had always imagined that I would one day work in the entertainment industry and be a part of that movie magic, whether it was in public relations, production, post-production, or even directing. I mistakenly thought that a degree in communication would be all I needed to gain entrance into this exclusive industry, but it is now clear to me that I am going to need a hell of a lot more than this degree if I want someone to give me that opportunity. 

 I was able to take a few film classes while I was in college (Introduction to Film, Writing for Film, Documentary Filmmaking) and these classes were some of the best I have ever taken. In Writing for Film, where we learned how to write film reviews and critical analyses and that sort of thing, I first discovered my desire to attend a film festival. It turns out that UCSB's film department offers a "class" where they take a group of students to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado and the students are required to watch dozens of films and write reviews on them. UMMMM. Seeing as how my absolute favorite thing to do is watch movies all day and because I love to write, that sounded like a dream come true to me. I was unable to go on the trip that year, but, ever since then, I could not get the idea out of my mind. It wasn't until this past weekend that my dreams of attending a film festival came to fruition. 

Every year, smack dab in the middle of awards season, my college-town of Santa Barbara, CA hosts an international film festival. There are tons of great events scheduled this year, including appearances by world-renowned director Martin Scorcese, Viola Davis (actress, The Help), Christopher Plummer (actor, Beginners), and so many more that it would be ridiculous to list. Although I wish I could have made it to one of the special events, my work schedule and the fact that I live two hours outside of Santa Barbara would not permit this. I did, however, take advantage of my day off on Sunday and hightailed it to SB, where I spent a grand total of 24 hours (from Saturday night - Sunday night) relishing in the beauty of the city, hitting up some of my favorite eateries, and, of course, attending the film festival. 

 On Saturday night I picked up a friend from UCLA (who happened to be my roommate in Santiago, Chile!). We drove over to the quaint little town of Isla Vista where we met up with more friends with whom we also shared our experience in Chile. I can't even describe the bond I have with these girls; they were my family when my family was an entire hemisphere away. I can't imagine ever NOT being friends with them. Coincidentally, my friend Lara (who went backpacking with me through Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay at the end of our trip)reminded me that Saturday was the one year anniversary of our departure to Chile!!!! Unreal. 

What is a trip to Isla Vista without nachos from Freebirds?

The next morning, after staring in awe at the Pacific Ocean and inhaling fat bagels from Bagel Cafe, Rachel & I drove down to State Street to get in on all the action. We each purchased a pass that would admit us into four movies so we knew it was going to be a long day hahaha.

The first movie we watched was Hugo in 3D, which played at 10 AM at the Arlington Theater.

Hugo was directed by none other than Martin Scorcese and has been nominated for a whopping 11 Academy Awards. I guess you could say it is a child's film, as the protagonist is an 11-year old boy, but the style and the tone of the movie ware a combination of whimsical/dark, which makes it enjoyable for a more mature audience. The star-studded cast (Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moretz, Emily Mortimer, and Jude Law) is amazing and they are all so, so funny! To be quite honest, I missed a good chunk of the movie because I fell asleep haha -- it was early, okay!!! But I can't wait to watch it again in its entirety. If you haven't seen it already, go!!

The next movie we watched was actually the world premiere of Nothing Like Chocolate, a documentary by Kum-Kum Bhavnani. We had no idea what it would be about but we both love chocolate and figured we would enjoy it. Before the movie I commented to Rachel, "We are probably going to want chocolate soo badly after this," thinking that the film was going to be full of food porn. I then added, "Unless it's like some sort of exposé on the corruption in the chocolate industry!!" We both laughed. It turns out it is!! (an exposé). 

The film focuses on Mott Green, an American expatriate living in Grenada (an island in the Caribbean) and his efforts to create a completely organic, labor-safe chocolate factory. The film exposes the poor quality of industrialized chocolate and, most importantly, the disgusting conditions under which it is produced. For example, I learned that 43% of the world's chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, which enslaves children as cacao farmers. If the farmers are not enslaved, they are extremely underpaid. Taking it upon himself to change this industry, Mott Green created a chocolate co-operative in Grenada, where he pays independent, organic farmers in his neighborhood a lot of money for their cacao beans. The movie is very funny, uplifting, and eye-opening. When the movie ended and Mott stood before us and received a standing ovation, I literally had to fight back tears. I really will make an effort to purchase organic, free-trade chocolate (and other food for that matter). Here is a link to Mott green's website where you can buy chocolate from him:  Support social change!

'Nothing Like Chocolate' Teaser from Kum-Kum Bhavnani on Vimeo.

After a short lunch break at Chipotle (mmm...), we returned to the Metro 4 movie theater to watch Pina in 3D, a film by Wim Wenders. Excepttttt, I wouldn't really call it a film... It is more of a collection of dance performances. The film is a tribute to the late Pina Bausch, the director and innovative choreographer of the Tanztheater Wuppertal dance company in Germany, who died of cancer days before this film was scheduled to begin shooting. The dancing is very avant-garde -- unlike anything I have seen before. It is very sensual and bold and emotional. The beginning is slow (I may have fallen asleep again hahaha) but it picks back up halfway through. Something I particularly liked about the film were the "interviews" with the dancers that are scattered between the performances. After a performance, the camera would cut to the image of a dancer sitting on a chair looking off to the side in complete silence, as though they were deep in thought. Very slowly, the dancer would move his or her eyes to the camera and would just stare this penetrating stare while a voiceover began in the background, including some statement this dancer had made. It is very spooky.

The last movie we watched, once again at the Arlington Theater, was Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Lasse Hallstrom. I had never heard of it, but we went to it on our friend Jade's insistence, who joined us to watch it. The movie is about a group of very different people who join forces to pull of a near impossible project: introducing salmon to the waterways of the Yemen, a middle eastern country. What makes this movie interesting is the clash of personalities of the characters and how this experience changes all of their lives. The screenplay was written by Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the screenplay for the award-winning Slumdog Millionaire, so you can only imagine how beautiful and magical it was. The cast is INCREDIBLE (Emily Blunt, Ewan MacGregor, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Amr Waked) and they are all seriously spot-on in regards to their humor. So funny. Also, Emily Blunt is perfection.  


 After the movie, Rachel and I stopped for a snack and then returned home to LA.


It was such an amazing day. 
Hopefully next year I will be able to attend more screenings. 
And maybe I will even get the opportunity to go to Telluride! :) 

 Oh, and this means I accomplished goal 
#056: Go to a film festival. 
And you thought I forgot about my Day Zero Project, didn't you? Only six months left!!!

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

Looks like so much fun! Don't you love days off?? And my cousin who goes to UCSB is obsessed with Freebirds.