Film Fest Screen Shots

Santa Barbara International Film FestivalA Little Teenage Charm Goes a Long Way

One of the best perks of being a reporter in Santa Barbara is access to the film festival. No matter what you’re in the mood for–movie star mania, industry panels, blockbuster film screenings, documentaries, surf films or obscure foreign films that would never otherwise make it to the Metro 4-our film festival has a little bit of everything.

But despite my primo access to the festival I always feel a little jealous of the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press. Those guys really have it made–and they’re way, way too young to appreciate it.

This year Shuba, a 7th grader, got James Franco to recite Lord Byon’s “She Walks in Beauty” poem to her. Oh lord indeed. He looked right at her with those big brown eyes. James Franco and Byron … it just doesn’t get much dreamier than that.

My heart was thumping just watching the video, and Shuba’s not even old enough to appreciate it. She probably wishes it were Justin Beiber or Will Smith’s kid.

Youth is wasted on the young, especially when it comes to reporting.

A few years ago those Teen Press kids were the only ones that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie even stopped for on the red carpet. Sorry, we’re too busy adopting children and saving the world and looking gorgeous to talk to any professional reporters. “Oh you’re in middle school. How’s it going, dude? We’d love to talk to you!”

Yeesh. Those kids get all the breaks.

Then last year, while I rubbernecked on the red carpet, a couple of other teen pressers, Kendall and Lia, got within smoldering distance of Colin Firth. Seriously, I’m getting flushed just thinking about it. Be still my heart, it was Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice,” Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy in “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy in the other Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy in the other “Pride and Prejudice.” Did I mention my favorite character in all of literature is Mr. Darcy?

I wonder who James Franco’s favorite character is? I could have asked him if I was part of the Teen Press and got to interview him alone in the green room after his award. Alone in the green room! Geez, those kids don’t know how lucky they are.

Like I said, I’m a little teensy bit jealous. Mostly I wish the film festival had existed when I was in high school. I only missed it by a few years. Just think, I could have been interviewing Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Danson instead of watching wrestling matches and exposing the evils of cafeteria food.

For more information (and to see the video of James Franco reciting Byron) on the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press visit For more of Leslie’s columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on February 4, 2011.