It was destined to be a celestial event, featuring a handful of those sparkly, talented beings we call “stars”. The night began with the well-loved, ceremonial red carpet procession, the honored attendees of the night appeared. Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Lawrence Kasdan, Ayalet Zurer, Casey-the dog, and Jay Ali of the opening night’s feature film, Darling Companion were in attendance. As well as this, the director of La Luna (an animated Pixar short that was also shown) Enrico Casarosa made friendly appearance. The red carpet was ablaze with flashbulbs and the air was filled with a cacophony of sound from boisterous paparazzi and bustling crowds of excited fans. Reporters and attendees alike gazed as Diane Keaton breezed by in signature tailored, Annie Hall chic attire. No interviews, only an audibly repeated, sincere assessment of her surroundings.
“This is the most amazing theater.”
The Arlington Theater played host to a full house of attendees. Santa Barbara Film Fest’s opening night was introduced by executive director, Roger Durling, who began the event by requesting that the audience members briefly connect with one unfamiliar nearby neighbor. This simple act brought a warm sense of humanity and community to the event, one that is often passed by in such immense gatherings of people. Mr. Durling then went on to unfold a beautiful story which likened his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut to his position as executive director of the Film Festival.His story was an idyllic, cosmological introduction to La Luna.
Following La Luna, the audience was treated to an introduction by Darling Companion’s screenwriter/director, Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Arc, The Big Chill, Body Heat). Kasdan underscored the scale and glory of the gathering
by saying “it’s very rare now that two thousand people get into one room and watch a movie.” Kasdan proceeded to explain his reluctance in making Darling Companion, citing his wife, Meg Kasdan, and her persuasive sensibilities, as the reason for the film’s inception. The story is mildly autobiographical of Kasdan and his wife, their dog, is the inspiration for the film. One of the most brilliant stars of the film, who plays the role of Freeway, is Casey. Casey’s life draws an amazing parallel with his character’s, he himself was an abused rescue dog who was adopted with scars on his neck from rope burns.
The two features made for a very intimate and familiar opening night. It was a classic Santa Barbara Film Festival display, with engaging words and charming, accessible films. This certainly creative and warm event welcomed cinephiles and entertainment seekers alike through the velvet curtains of the Santa Barbara Film Festival, under the stars of Arlington.