The 2009 Santa Barbara Film Festival

by Scott London

Most people in the entertainment world are busy looking forward to the Academy Awards on February 22. But some of us are still looking back on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which just wrapped up on February 2. 

The two events are not unrelated. The ten-day festival in Santa Barbara kicked off on January 22, the same day the Academy Award nominations were announced. As it happened, a surprising number of Oscar-contenders were already booked for appearances in Santa Barbara — either as award recipients, presenters, participants, judges, or simply as celebrities making an appearance. 

It’s a mark of how well the festival is doing that it consistently manages to spotlight the year’s most significant films, performances, and personalities, often way ahead of others in the industry.

Highlights of this year’s festival included awards tributes to Kate Winslet (who received a nod for best actress for her performance in “The Reader”) Penelope Cruz (nominated for best supporting actress in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and comeback of the year, Mickey Rourke, (nominated for best actor for his performance in “The Wrestler”).

Richard Jenkins, who also received a best actor nod, was joined by fellow Virtuoso honorees Michael Shannon, nominated for best supporting actor for “Revolutionary Road,” Viola Davis, best supporting actress for “Doubt,” and best actress nominee Melissa Leo for “Frozen River” (below).

Melissa Leo

It was my second year covering the event. Some more of my photos are gathered here.