World Premiere of “Mission Blue” Opens SBIFF Tonight

Mission_Blue.1The 2014 Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of Mission Blue, a story of the ever-changing ocean, at Arlington Theatre on Thursday, January 30 at 8 p.m.

The documentary film highlights oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer Sylvia Earle’s life’s work and follows the increasingly urgent international effort, coordinated by the National Geographic Society, to build awareness about the state of our oceans. Called “Her Deepness” by The New Yorker and The New York Times, and a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Earle has led more than 60 expeditions and logged more than 6,000 hours underwater.

The film features James Cameron and the late Mike deGruy. Both Earle and Stevens will be in attendance on opening night. Following the film, guests over 21 can attend a film-themed gala at Paseo Nuevo, including food, drinks, dancing, and entertainment.

To purchase tickets for these events click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 30, 2014.


Santa Barbara’s Teen Stars Shine at The Granada on Feb. 8

2014 Teen Star Santa Barbara Finalists

2014 Teen Star Santa Barbara Finalists

Congratulations to the Teen Star Santa Barbara 2014 finalists:

Jason Paras — Dos Pueblos High School
Karlie Mack — San Marcos High School
Zoë Lynn Burritt — Cabrillo High School
Nathaniel Neumann — Dos Pueblos High School
Grant Bower — Santa Barbara High School
Mary-Grace Langhorne — Goleta Valley Junior High School
Brandi Rose Lentini — Santa Barbara High School
Luana Psaros — Dos Pueblos High School
Sulema Mejia — Pioneer Valley High School
Dylan Ortega — Santa Ynez High School

And the 2014 alternates:
Olivia Huffman — Solvang School
Sydney Shalhoob — La Colina Junior High School

They will perform in the final competition on Saturday, February 8 at The Granada at 7 p.m. (1214 State St.).

The way the finals work is that each of the final contestants performs a song of their choice in the first round. Voting by text message, the audience selects their top choices and the celebrity judges (Catherine Remak of KLITE 101.7, casting director Wendy Kurtzman and record producer Randy Spendlove) choose theirs; then votes are combined for a second round.

After the second round, text voting occurs again by the audience and the winner is determined!

Along with the prestigious title, contestants have the chance to follow in the footsteps of previous winners like 2013 champ Allie Nixon, who is currently working with her celebrity mentor JR Richards on an album to be released this spring. Here’s one of her songs, which has been featured on the CW network:

The winner’s prize package also includes a $1,000 scholarship, opportunity to record  in a world-class studio, radio and TV appearances, plus being the opening act performer at a number of local events.

Here’s a great video that gives an overview of the program.

For more information regarding Teen Star Santa Barbara, click here.

The Teen Star Santa Barbara program was established in 2010 to give our youth an outlet to showcase their talent in a healthy environment and provide long lasting benefits for our community and our students as well as enhance opportunities for their futures. Proceeds from this event are donated to performing arts programs in Santa Barbara County Schools.

To purchase tickets click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 28, 2014.

“Selma Rubin and Community of Life” at Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Selma Rubin and Beezhan Tulu at El Capitan (courtesy photo)

Selma Rubin and Beezhan Tulu at El Capitan (courtesy photo)

The legacy of beloved local activist Selma Rubin lives on in filmmaker Beezhan Tulu‘s new documentary, Selma Rubin and Community of Life, which is an official selection of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. 

When asked what inspired him to do the film, Tulu said, “I believe we don’t own this planet and we share it with billions of other species that our health and livelihood completely depends on theirs. Therefore I always look for stories that promote a healthier planet for all species. Selma Rubin and her community has done that. Therefore a story like Selma’s and how she has encouraged every one around her to build strong organizations such as EDC (Environmental Defense Center) and CEC (Community Environmental Council) has been very inspiring to me.”

The documentary focuses on the period of time when Rubin (who passed away in 2012) finds out that a developer is planning to build 1,500 homes on the Gaviota Coast and decides to stop him. It’s definitely a must see for locals. Along with footage of Rubin, it also features Dave Davis (CEO/Executive Director of the Community Environmental Council), Chris Mobley (Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent), David Landecker (former Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Center), Jean-Michelle Cousteau (explorer, environmentalist and Chairman of the Board and President of Ocean Futures Society), Linda Krop (Chief Counsel of the Environmental Defense Center), Marc McGinnes (UCSB Environmental Studies Program), Paul Relis (founding Executive Director of the Community Environmental Council) and Mike Lunsford (charter member and president of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy Board of Directors).

In addition to a touching local story, what Tulu hopes people will take away from the film is an encouraging message. “I  believe in people and know that we need to be working to gather for a better world. I believe that focusing on a healthier planet for all species goes beyond our differences in culture, religion, nationality, race, sex, skin color and all other shallow thoughts that have separated us and made us suffer. And although we live in hard times and 98% of scientists agree that global climate change is real and we need to do something very serious, really fast, and really soon. But I believe this is also a great opportunity to unite us again as humanity.”

Selma Rubin and Community of Life will screen at Santa Barbara Museum of Art on February 4 at 7 p.m. and at Metro 4 Theatre on February  5 at 10 a.m.


—Leslie Dinaberg
Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 28, 2014.

Bruce Dern to Receive SBIFF’s Modern Master Award

Bruce Dern, courtesy SBIFF

Bruce Dern, courtesy SBIFF

We received word today that  Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) will honor Academy Award-nominated actor Bruce Dern (who was so fabulous in Nebraska) with the Modern Master Award  on Saturday, February 8, at the  Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St..

The Modern Master Award is the highest honor presented by SBIFF. It was created in 1995  “to pay tribute to an individual who has enriched our culture through his/her multi-faceted accomplishments in the motion picture industry.” Dern joins a prestigious list of past recipients including Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett (who will receive this year’s Outstanding Performer of the Year Award on February 1 at the Arlington), Clint Eastwood, Christopher Plummer and James Cameron.

Emma Thompson was slated to receive the Modern Master Award, but according to a press release she is “not able to be in attendance as she is required for rehearsal in London on the New York Philharmonic staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which will be directed by Lonny Price.”

Thompson, who currently stars in Saving Mr. Banks, was not nominated for an Oscar this year.

Dern will be honored for his distinguished career, which includes his most recent role as the headstrong Woody in Alexander Payne’s critically acclaimed film Nebraska. Also being honored by SBIFF this year is Dern’s Nebraska co-star June Squibb (and fellow Academy Award nominee), who is one of the Virtuosos being honored at the Arlington on February 4.

“We’re deeply humbled and grateful to Bruce Dern for accepting this award—he’s not only a Modern Master —he’s a hero. Year after year, performance after performance, Bruce Dern has enthralled audiences and with Nebraska he has given us a character for the ages in ‘Woody Grant.’ It’s his time and we’re delighted to honor him,” said SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

Through decades of critically acclaimed performances, Dern has acquired the reputation of being one of the most talented and prolific actors of his generation. A celebrated stage actor, Dern was trained by famed director Elia Kazan at The Actor’s Studio and made his film debut in Kazan’s Wild River (1960). He went on to work with director Roger Corman and appeared in several of his classic and decade defining films including Wild Angels. He received critical success for films such as They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? opposite Jane Fonda and Drive, He Said, directed by Jack Nicholson, and went down in history for his role as Long Hair in The Cowboys in which he became the first man ever to kill John Wayne on screen.

His performance in Hal Ashby’s Coming Home that earned him both an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination. Dern co-starred with Charlize Theron in Monster, one of the most critically acclaimed independent films of all time. Most recently Dern has worked with directors Francis Ford Coppola in Twixt and Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the tribute click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 28. 2014.

SBIFF Announces Guests for Producers and Womens Panels

courtesy SBIFF

courtesy SBIFF

The film festival isn’t just about about movies and movie stars, the industry panels are also a fabulous treat.

Movers and Shakers—the first Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) panel of the weekend, which brings together some of today’s most established producers to the Lobero Theatre on Saturday, February 1 at 11 a.m.—will feature Albert Berger (Nebraska), Robbie Brenner (Dallas Buyers Club), Dana Brunetti (Captain Phillips), Dede Gardner (12 Years a Slave), Joey McFarland (Wolf of Wall Street), Charles Roven (American Hustle), Gaby Tana (Philomena) and Ron Yerxa (Nebraska).  The moderator will be  Los Angeles Times film writer John Horn.

At 2 p.m. is SBIFF’s Creative Forces: Women in the Biz panel which spotlights creative decision-makers sharing the challenges and successes they have faced as women in the industry. Moderated by Madelyn Hammond, this year’s panelists include: Kristine Belson (producer, The Croods), Dede Gardner (producer, 12 Years a Slave), Lauren MacMullen (director, Get A Horse, animated short), Rachel Winter (producer, Dallas Buyers Club) and Sara Woodhatch (producer, Before Midnight).

All panels take place at the recently renovated Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 29, 2014.

Widespread Panic comes to the Arlington April 3

Widespread Panic, courtesy photo

Widespread Panic, courtesy photo

Tickets are now on sale for alternative rock band Widespread Panic. The oft-touring American band will play at the Arlington Theatre  (1317 State St.) on April 3 at 8 p.m.

Since their inception in Athens, Georgia, in 1986, Widespread Panic has risen to elite status among American jam bands. The current lineup includes guitarist/singer John Bell, bassist Dave Schools, drummer Todd Nance, percussionist Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz, keyboardist John “JoJo” Hermann, and guitarist Jimmy HerringMichael Houser and George McConnell have also played lead guitar for the band.

For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 24, 2014.

Cocktail Corner: Wine and Film Pair Perfectly With Santa Barbara Film Feast

Star in your own romantic comedy with SB Film Feast's wine tasting specials. (photo: photostock,

Star in your own romantic comedy with SB Film Feast’s wine tasting specials. (photo: photostock,

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

Santa Barbara’s Film Feast, coinciding with the 29th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) January 30th – February 9th, has something for everyone, including a slew of great wine specials and award-worthy prix fixe tasting flights.

Nominees include The Graduate Wine Flight” at Au Bon Climat Wine Tasting Room and The Jim Clendenen Wine Library (813 Anacapa St.), which includes eight wines comprised of four sets—one older and one younger vintage of the same wine. Taste the youthful, perky vintage against the graceful, nuanced library edition, accompanied by artisan cheeses from C’est Cheese.

“Film Noir and Pinot Noir,” is on the marquee at Conway Deep Sea Tasting Room (217-G Stearns Wharf), offering a flight of three different Pinot Noirs. The grapes all come from within Santa Barbara County and highlight movies that focus on Pinot Noir’s as well.

Featured at Grassini Family Vineyards Tasting Room (813 Anacapa St.) is the documentary film Wine for the Confused,” a light-hearted introduction to wine for novices.  John Cleese, a longtime resident of Santa Barbara, hosts the film. Tastings will offer interactive lessons on tasting wine, including blind tastings, as well as sensory experiences to help you decipher the sometimes confusing world of wine.

At Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant (131 Anacapa St.), it’s your turn to be the sommelier with SOMM II: The Sequel.” Join the SOMM movie talent, Brian McClintic, as he and the Les Marchands team guide you through your own blind tasting just like in the movie. Enjoy a wine flight with your choice of red or white and take your best guess, while exploring and learning a little more about wine. 

At Margerum Wine Company Tasting Room (812 Anacapa St.) enjoy the It’s Complicated tasting flight and see where parts of the movie were filmed. Try a speciality tasting of the single vineyard Syrah flight, while enjoying clips from the film.

Silent films take center stage at Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St.). With “Blind and Silent,” sharpen your wine tasting skills while enjoying a variety of famous films that will be silently projected. Muni will be offering blind tastings of a variety of its wines, while letting you guess the blend and silent film.

It’s opening night at Santa Barbara Winery (202 Anacapa St.) “Starring Grenache!” and featuring a new release wine flight starring their 2011 Grenaches. Co-starring in the performance will be boxes of locally made Grenache chocolate truffles. Sounds like a delicious way to celebrate the film festival.

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 24, 2014.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Forge into Santa Barbara Art Foundry

Sculpture by Tim Cotterill, courtesy SB Art Foundry

Sculpture by Tim Cotterill, courtesy SB Art Foundry

Smile-inducing surprises are tucked into almost every nook and cranny of the Funk Zone. Our latest cool find is the new Santa Barbara Art Foundry (120 Santa Barbara St., 805/324-4230,, a real working foundry where visitors can watch skilled craftspeople transform molten bronze into unique and beautiful sculptures.

It’s fascinating to see each step in the casting process. These bronze sculptures are created using the “lost wax” method, which can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, South America and Asia. Watching these intricate procedures firsthand is sure to give visitors an even greater appreciation for all of the work that goes into these sculptures, conveniently on view in an onsite gallery.

Santa Barbara Art Foundry features the work of “anchor artist” Tim Cotterill, also known as “The Frogman,” whose frog sculptures are in collections all over the world and sold in more than 130 fine art galleries worldwide. Also on view are art deco sculptures by Erté, a well-known European artist and costume designer for films, and revered Chinese artist Ting Shao Kuang, whose work is seen in museums around the world.

As if the behind-the-scenes tour and the art itself weren’t enough to lure visitors into this distinctive new attraction, the venue also features a new tasting room, Fox Wine Company, headed by award-winning winemaker Blair Fox and his wife Sarah. Blair Fox Cellars is an ultra-boutique winery in Los Olivos owned and operated by the couple. This is their first tasting room in Santa Barbara and spotlights a new label created with the desire to produce elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as showcase their bold Syrah and unique blends. “We are thrilled to introduce this new label and are so happy to be part of the new gallery,” say the Foxes. “This is the one and only location where you can find these unique wines.”

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Winter 2013/14 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.


The Books of 2013

Where'd You Go BernadetteSo many books, so little time—part seven.

My son started keeping a reading list in third grade, so I did too. This is the seventh year we’ve done this.

My favorite book of 2013 was probably Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple. I’m not sure how much that had to do with the book itself and how much had to do with my reading it during a lovely spa getaway with my mom at Ojai Valley Inn, but either way I loved it!

Anyway, I’d love to hear about other people’s favorite books this year.

Local Girls Hoffman Alice
Curable Romantic Skibell Joseph
The Casual Vacancy Rowling J.K.
Happily Ever Madder McAfee Stephanie
Moonwalking With Einstein Foer Joshua
The Future of Us Asher Jay & Carolyn Mackler
Escape Delinsky Barbara
Where We Belong Giffin Emily
Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim Scottoline Lisa & Francesca Serritella
40 Love Wickham Madeleine
Hannah’s List Macomber Debbie
Perfected by Girls Martino Alfred C.
Happy Birthday Steel Danielle
Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith Lamott Anne
Interpreter of Maladies Lahiri Jumpa
Helen Keller in Love Sultan Rosie
Still Alice Genova Lisa
The Fault in Our Stars Green John
Friendship Bread Gee Darien
Everything We Ever Wanted Shepard Sara
Craft Activism Tapper Joan
The Art of Fielding Harbach Chad
The Ice Queen Hoffman Alice
Firefly Lane Hannah Kristin
Guilt By Association Clark Marcia
Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West Wickenden Dorothy
The Newlyweds Freudenberger Nell
The House in Amalfi Adler Elizabeth
What Happened to Goodbye Dessen Sarah
Name Dropping Heller Jane
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street Birdsong Jeanne
The Summer of Naked Swim Parties Blau Jessica Anya
The Things We Do For Love Hannah Kristin
More Baths: Less Talking Hornby Nick
This Lullaby Dessen Sarah
Wild Strayed Cheryl
Uncommon Crimminals Carter Ally
Home Again Hannah Kristin
Chocolate Chocolate Moons Kingon Jackie
Gone Girl Flynn Gillian
A Half Life Weiner Jennifer
Recalculating Weiner Jennifer
The Family Tree Cadwalladr Carole
The Blossom Sisters Michaels Fern
Getting the Pretty Back Ringwald Molly
Some Assembly Required Lamott Anne
The Gilly Salt Sisters Baker Tiffany
Life on Hold McQuestion Karen
Summer House Thayer Nancy
Come Home Scottoline Lisa
A Visit From the Goon Squad Egan Jennifer
Pictures of You Leavitt Caroline
Watermelon Keyes Marian
The Obituary Writer Hood Ann
Silver Girl Hilderbrand Elin
The Round House Erdrich Louise
The Princesses of Iowa Backes M. Molly
Where’d You Go Bernadette Semple Maria
The Language of Flowers Diffenbaugh Vanessa
The Castaways Hilderbrand Elin
True Colors Hannah Kristin
Growing Up Amish Wagler Ira
Watch Me Barnholdt Lauren
Help Thanks Wow Lamott Anne
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt Hoffman Beth
The Grace of Crows Shawn Tracy
Sharp Objects Flynn Gillian
Scrap City Gambino Paul
Will Grayson, Will Grayson Green John and David Levithan
Because I Said So Peri Camille and Kate Moses
Fly Away Hannah Kristin
An Abundance of Katherines Green John
Behind the Beautiful Forevers Boo Katherine
The Family Man Lipman Elinor
How To Love Cotugno Kate
Starry Night Macomber Debbie
Dark Witch Roberts Nora
Anastasia Krupnik Lowry Lois
A Summer Affair Hilderbrand Elin
Mrs. Kimble Haigh Jennifer
Christmas Bliss Andrews Mary Kay
Anybody Out There Keyes Marian
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter Cano-Murillo Kathy
Does this church make me look fat? Jantzen Rhoda
Intoxerated: The Definitive Drinker’s Dictionary Dickson Paul

Click to read The Books of 2012.

Click to read The Books of 2011.

Click to read The Books of 2010.

Click to read The Books of 2009.

Click to read The Books of 2008.

Click to read The Books of 2007.

Sings Like Hell is Back at the Lobero With Series #34

Sings Like HellThe Devil Is Back at the Historic Lobero Theatre and better than ever with a terrific line-up of Sings Like Hell shows coming this season.

First up is JIMMER (Yes, from the Rave-Ups!)+ JUDE JOHNSTONE on Saturday, January 25 at 8 p.m. “F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that there are no second acts in American lives. He would have changed his mind if he knew the story of Jimmer Podrasky,” says Sings Like Hell’s Peggie Jones. “Jimmer, a former punk and closeted John Prine fan, emerged from Carnegie Mellon and promptly formed The Rave-Ups with his old college pals. A natural lyricist armed with a literary sense of irony, The Rave-Ups made quick work of Pittsburg and blasted their way onto the national scene…where the music industry (Epic) promptly released two of the best albums of that decade. Then Jimmer vanished. Well, sort of. He raised his beautiful son Chance as a single father. His first album in 23 years, The Would-Be Plans is Podrasky’s strongest work to date. Flanked by a powerhouse band and showcasing his sardonic, dangerously sharp wit, this is a staggering return to form.”

As for Jude Johnstone, “she had her career launched by Clarence Clemons, furthered by T-Bone Burnett and Leonard Cohen, and has had her songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Bette Midler, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood and Jennifer Warnes (list not complete!). But there is nothing like hearing her slink around her own lyrics herself, with a soulful, melodic grace and artful simplicity that is uniquely her very own.”

Next up is An Entire Evening of JACK SHIT + Special Guests on Sunday, February 16. As Jones says, “Jack Shit is the ultimate in-crowd event. This band is so full of shit, it spills out into the audience. Seriously, go the website and follow the links…it stinks so good! Davey Faragher, Val McCallum and Pete Thomas form the backbone…but you can expect a bunch of their shitty friends (there’s free beer for the band).”

Third in the series is THE WATKINS FAMILY HOUR featuring Sara & Sean Watkins + Special Guests on Friday, March 21. “Sings Like Hell favorites Sean & Sara Watkins have been at the Lobero many times,” says Jones. “T-Bone Burnett brought them for Down From The Mountain, they are part of Works Progress Administration, and of course we loved them with Nickel Creek. The Watkins Family Hour is a regular feature at Largo and McCabes in Los Angeles and now they are coming back in all their low-key, artistically superb glory to charm the Hell out of, well, Hell.”

ARIANA GILLIS + Special Guest are next up, on Saturday, April 19. Rock ‘n roll writer Dave Marsh, admits to being Ariana Gillis’s biggest fan. He played the track “John and the Monster” on his Sirius XM radio show and the first caller was Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyricist and songwriting partner. Later on his own show, Taupin had this to say, “I’m staggered by how good she is. There is not much that impresses me these days…but I can honestly say she’s the single most exciting thing I’ve heard in a long time.” Not bad for a 21 year old from Niagara, Ontario!

SATURDAY, May 3 is a MYSTERY DATE. We’ll keep you posted.

Then on Saturday, June 28 they’ll have CHUCK PROPHET & THE MISSION EXPRESS WITH STRINGS. “Chuck Prophet is singularly creative, deafeningly original and helms one of the very best bands in American rock’n’roll today. We would be stupid not to present him as often as possible,” says Jones. “This is an entire evening of Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, recreating the Great American Music Hall drop-dead sold-out concerts, with a string section. Brace yourself.”

All shows start at 8 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. (805/963-0761), with a reception with the artists following each show.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 19, 2014.