The eighth edition of the Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival, highlighted by six world premieres and six U.S. preems, will unspool March 5-14.

Fest will also stage numerous events, including five evenings with actors and directors and two special seminars. Overall, more than 100 films will be presented, and artists responsible for many of the pix will appear at screenings.

Opening-night attraction will be Masato Harada’s “Painted Desert,” a cross-cultural action drama starring Nobu McCarthy, James Gammon, Don Keith Opper and Kazuya Kimura.

Fest closer will be Vincent Ward’s “Map of the Human Heart,” toplining Anne Parillaud, Patrick Bergin, Jason Scott Lee, John Cusack and Jeanne Moreau.

Other world premieres are: Eric Anjou’s “The Cool Surface,” an erotic thriller with Robert Patrick, Teri Hatcher and Matt McCoy; George Hickenlooper’s Civil War-era drama “Grey Knight,” starring Corbin Bernsen, Martin Sheen, Ray Wise, Cynda Williams and Adrian Pasdar; Steven Starr’s look at a talent agent, “Joey Breaker,” featuring Richard Edson, Cedella Marley, Gina Gershon and Philip S. Hoffman; Anthony Slide and Jeffrey Goodman’s docu “The Silent Feminists: America’s First Women Directors”; and Menahem Golan’s drama “Silent Victim,” with Michele Greene, Ely Pouget and Kyle Secor.

American preems include Michael Schottenberg’s “Averill’s Arrival” from Austria, Srinivas Krishna’s “Masala,” Debbie McGee’s “Toward Intimacy” and Gail Harvey’s “The Shower” from Canada, Marion Hansel’s “Sur la Terre Comme au Ciel” from Belgium and Arpad Sopsits’ “Video Blues” from Hungary.

U.S. indies lined up for the fest are Nigol Bezjian’s “Chickpeas,” Julia Reichert’s “Emma and Elvis,” Alan Rudolph’s “Equinox,” Thomas Claburn’s “The Hanged Man,” David Burton Morris’ “Jersey Girl,” John Turturro’s “Mac,” Don Scardino’s “Me and Veronica,” J.S. Cardone’s “ShadowHunter,” P.J. Castellaneta’s “Together Alone,” Tom Flynn’s “Watch It” and Mike Newell’s Irish-lensed “Into the West.”

Australia contributes “Black Harvest,””The Last Days of Chez Nous,””Romper Stomper” and “Strictly Ballroom.” Spanish-language entries are “Highway Patrolman,””How to Be a Woman and Not Die in the Attempt,””Salami, Salami” and “Kkrapatchouk.”

In from China are “Ballad of a Yellow River,””The Bell of Purity Temple” and “Code Name Cougar,” while Canada is sending “Bach and Broccoli,””Leolo,””On My Own” and an animation program from the National Film Board of Canada.

Feature dox on tap are “Beatrice Wood: Mama of Dada,””It Was a Wonderful Life ,””On the Bridge,””Something Within Me” and “Talk 16.” Special programs will be devoted to Corbin Bernsen, in connection with the screening of “Grey Knight”; John Lithgow, who will introduce “The World According to Garp”; Bertrand Tavernier, who will present his new film “L.627″; and Shelley Winters, who will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her screen career at a showing of “Lolita.”

First seminar, on March 6, is “How to Make a Feature Film in a Workshop and Live to Tell the Tale: A Case Study.” John M. Landsberg will moderate this discussion of the making of “Confessions of a Marriage Junkie,” the first 35mm feature produced as an indie workshop, and the first feature made entirely in Santa Barbara since the silent days.

The March 13 seminar, “$ and Sense,” will look at producing films inside and outside the Hollywood system. Moderated by Renee Missel, session will also feature Wallis J. Nicita, Sara Risher, Victoria Riskin, Midge Sanford, Lauren Shuler-Donner, Cathleen Summers, Anne Templeton, Lauren Weissman and Laura Ziskin.

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