Rainy Tuesday Afternoon
by Felicia Tomasko
Tuesday the film festival received rain, lots of it. I don’t need to tell any of you in Santa Barbara about the rain. During a mid-afternoon break in the movie schedule, I visited the hospitality suite at the Hotel Santa Barbara, where filmmakers and Platinum Pass holders can sip on smart water and Red Bull, check their email, read magazines and lounge on couches. They also exchange conversations and cards, comparing screening responses and commiserate about other festivals. I heard that festival programmers tend to scout other festivals looking for cool films to show.
On Tuesday afternoon, I escaped the rain with camera in hand and got to meet a few of the filmmakers showing work at the festival.
Three of the people involved with the film Swimming in Auschwitz were escaping the rain in the lounge. Director Jon Kean and two of the survivors featured in the documentary - Renee Firestone and Lili Majzner. The trio complimented producer Ravit Markus on her documentary Yiddish Theater. Markus exclaimed about Firestone’s notoriety as a designer; she was first featured in a 1962 television show, Fashion for Life. And we thought Project Runway was a new phenom. Clips from the show are featured in the film, and the group had some laughs over orange burlap.
Speaking of fashion, Markus was sporting some hip cowboy boots, which she said she bought after moving to the U.S., where she felt cowboy boots were somehow a necessity. Markus and director Dan Katzir were making plans with festival staff for an additional screening of the heartwarming and funny documentary about the cultural art of Yiddish Theater, nearly lost after the Holocaust. Actress Zypora Spaisman insists in the film that even though she is in her 80s, she is still young. She is.
Cedar Sherbert sat chatting with Patrick and Nancy Davis. A Los Angeles-based filmmaker, Sherbert was commissioned by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to create Soy Pedro: Somos Mixteco, about migrant farm workers in Santa Maria. It’s screening with the Cinemedia shorts. Sherbert’s been introducing a number of the Cinemedia selections. Patrick and Nancy are known throughout Santa Barbara for their commitment to supporting the arts; Patrick is the former county arts commissioner, still active throughout the community. The three compared notes on films seen, with a lively debate disagreeing about the merits and demerits of their best and worst-of selections.
Natalie Sanderson dashed in to escape the rain after her Lobero screening of Lost Souls. She’s pleased with the response to her tale of stealing sacred antiquities.
Sanderson and Gary Young caught up on email and chatted about his film, Still Kicking. Young’s second foray into filmmaking, Sanderson exclaimed that she heard artistic manager Jeremy Platt’s mother raving about the inspiring film. It is inspiring and gives us hope for getting older. One of Young’s subjects still avidly plays piano at the age of 106.
The room began clearing out as the next set of screenings were about to begin, and everyone was braving the rain to catch the next show.