Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival & (why I don't do it)

The season of this festival is upon us. My first tip off - rain clouds I saw on my walk back home about an hour ago. There are also flyers on merchant's windows and the very cover of the SB Independent has a caricature of Sandra Bullock (my fav nominee for an Academy Award in the category of Actress in a Leading Role).

The SBIFF as is written everywhere- you get used to it after a few years of being in this town- is now celebrating its 25 years and is one of those things that are very much a Santa Barbara tradition. (If you take into account that I'm 25, I could very well, say it's existed, all my life.) Much like Fiesta, it's one of those things that reminds you "oh, it must be the beginning of February, or the first weekend of August." Locals either love it, or hate it, and with the best interest of the city in mind, it is fantastic for tourism.

There are many writers committed to sharing the events, the galas, the tributes, the films and interactions with the writers, producers, directors, casts, etc. One of the ones that I often read is Craig Smith who mentioned that "There's an awful lot of media interest in the Film Fest. I waited 30 minutes in line in the lobby of the Hotel Santa Barbara yesterday afternoon to pick up my press pass. Also in line, Scott Steepleton of the News-Press, Julie Ramos of KTYD, Joe Gehl of KEYT and former KEYT reporter Michelle Cole."

I, however, am not going to be blogging, or reporting about the Film Fest, but rather explaining why I've never been able to "get into it."

I have not yet been able to find the best way to decide which movies to watch. I don't seem to have enough attention span to read all of the blurbs about the films (which depending on which website/resource you read- may or may not include what time and when the film is playing-oh and where.)

Unlike regular films- mainstream media- where you get to watch previews and decide in roughly 30-50 sec whether or not you have interest in a movie, with the film fest you must do a lot of "work" shall we call it to pursue things that might be of interest to you. Of course, this excludes 2 kinds people, those whose leisure budgets allow for obtaining Platinum Passes ($1,655), & Cinema Passes ($605), or those that are very spontaneous, who will get up, walk on State, and say, "let's go into the next movie that's showing at a nearby theater." I fall in neither category. I like to plan things, carefully, my time (and money) is valuable to me, so I will carefully choose how I spend both.

Being a member of Generation Y, I believe technology is something that is inherent as not only someone who wants to get the word out, but as a preferred means of communication. So if I could make a suggestion which could likely not be welcomed due to costs, and time required by the SBIFF, it would be to splice all the previews of the films together into one hour long ad for the SBIFF and have it circulating on youtube a week or two before opening night. I remember several years ago, reading a particular Baby Blues comic where Zoe, the small child tells her dad at the movie theater, "that was great, I laughed, I cried, I had a great time" and her dad turns and looks at her and say, "Z, that was only the previews." How many of us, wouldn't love having good previews for the film fest?

Now, please note despite contrary evidence, I'm not being a downer on the film fest. Every year, I get excited, when those around me get excited for the SBIFF. (I am a fan of a lively Santa Barbara- though not of crowds). I have been impressed at the efficiency with which this festival is put together, marketed, and with the top stars, directors that come every year! Hats off to those that make this come together. Still, every year, I read, a total of 3-5 random descriptions of films, if I'm fortunate enough to find one I might have an interest in, then I attempt to match it up with a schedule and usually if by chance, I'm available, I'll have to call, or search online for the price of admission- by which time, I'm probably done looking it up & probably not attending. This will happen at the beginning of the fest, and sometimes in the middle of it, when I hear or read exciting reviews. This year, I started doing it, when I decided to stop and write about it, and see if anyone else goes through this odd ritual...

There is, however, one thing that I have enjoyed the past couple of years, and has slightly helped me out in this confusion and that is the Fund for Santa Barbara's Social Justice Awards. The reception itself is fantastic, but more importantly, this year, I noticed that their webpage contains the title, brief, brief summary of the film and the times that they are playing and location! Already going into it, I know that they are about some sort of social justice issue which means, there is a high likelihood that it would grab my attention. From those, it is far easier for me to find a film to attend. Perhaps a festival categorical guide by genre would be useful to those as dumbfounded by the task of finding which movies to watch.

For the local Santa Barbarans who are big SBIFF fans, have fun, stay dry. I will be kept up to date by many of you and the fascinating writers we have in our community, and patiently awaiting the day that figuring out how to "do the Film Fest" is far easier, and enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's keeping me busy & how do I find more to do?

When people ask me what's keeping me busy these days, I often have so many thoughts come to mind at the same time, that all I can manage to say is, "uh, hmm, nothing".

If you've heard me say that, it is definitely not true, I just can't quite figure out what to share first. Somehow many projects keep me busy and new goals and tasks so, I figured I'd write about them so as to share some good info (and in a way organize myself).

I currently am on the board of the Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee a non-partisan political action committee dedicated to furthering gender equality and feminist values through political and social action, and education. The Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee endorses the candidacies of women and men who actively support our goals and promote a feminist agenda. The Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee works on behalf of women to achieve political Access, Voice and Power.The organization has recently sponsored Joyce Dudley for District Attorney and Susan Jordan for the 35th State Assembly district seat, and have endorsed Janet Wolf for re-election as 2nd District Supervisor.

I plan to become more involved in a volunteer capacity in the short term future with Joyce Dudley's campaign for DA where she faces a difficult primary competition. I first met Joyce when she was my professor at the Santa Barbara College of Law, later she was one of the first supporters of my bid for Santa Barbara city council- I have endorsed and have known personally to be passionate about her work and most importantly the people she serves. In the 33rd State Assembly district, I am endorsing and strongly supporting my long time friend, Hilda Zacarias, who is an accomplished woman. She is tenacious, stong-willed and will be a great asset to the State Assembly. In the 24th Congressional District, I have endorsed and will be helping my friend, Tim Allison, who has an uphill battle for the seat, but is committed and understands the value of grassroots campaigning.

One of my biggest goals this year, as co-chair of Santa Barbara County Young Democrats is to focus on growing the membership and expanding to groups we have never reached before and engaging new activists & creating new leadership of young individuals county-wide. We are interested in building a good not only voting bloc but active bloc in elections, voter reg and general community participation. Among other projects and fun endeavors, we are holding a joint fundraiser to benefit the three Santa Barbara area Young Democrats chapters on March 13 from 3-5pm (If you want to attend or sponsor this event, let me know ;0)

I am also president of the Eastside Optimists Club, a regional club of Optimist International
their Mission is: "By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids." Last year we worked hard to plan and coordinate the Milpas Holiday Parade, which, unfortunately was canceled due to rain. This season we have a basketball hoops competition, and an essay contest in the planning stages, to provide opportunities at scholarships for youth in the Eastside in Santa Barbara.

Within a week I will be starting the Self- Employment Training, a14 week course at Women's Economic Ventures and I am greatly looking forward to it. This SET is for entrepreneurial lessons on everything that is necessary to starting a business and throughout the 14 weeks, participants work on a business plan to have completed by the end of the course. Of course, if you know me, you know I have a project in mind- (more to come...hint: The Digital Inclusion)

For fun, I am training for the LA Marathon which is on March 21st. This will be my second marathon, and I have already completed 4 of the 11 training weeks that were scheduled. I am updating my progress daily on The marathon begins at Dodger stadium and ends at Santa Monica Boulevard. I am greatly anticipating this race.

What prompted this blog, was a reminder email from an automated website ( that let me log into a long unpublished and forgotten project, that at the time I was very excited about; The Progressive Slate For whatever reason I didn't find the best way to get this started, I think perhaps because the courage campaign (among others was doing such a good job) of keeping progressives informed, but, I think my vision was something simple- less blogging and more unvarnished info. (i.e. I would like to find as a middle class hardworking parent w/out time for research, who are the "Designated Progressive candidates" in my district). I would like to take this up again, but I don't think that I have the time to devote to it.

There are many projects, events and ideas that grab my attention on a daily basis, but I can't do it all. I am very committed to certain causes and if an action is necessary to instigate or further immigration reform, to maintain "choice" or to repeal prop 8, or ensure same-sex marriage, I would take the necessary time to work on specific campaigns. Beyond such items, I find that my best place at this time is to match interested people to the best possible groups for action. So if any of these projects, you are curious to discuss, drop me a line, and I'll try to connect you with the right people in our community so that you too can get involved.