‘Nell’ producer Missel tops Santa Barbara fest

Renee Missel, producer of such films as “Resurrection” and “Nell,” has been appointed artistic director of the Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival, it was announced Friday.

A Santa Barbara resident, Missel succeeds Phyllis de Picciotto, who co-founded the event in 1988 and built it from a weekend outing to its present 11-day run, programming some 80 films annually. She will continue as a member of the fest’s executive board.

In making the announcement, fest president Dr. Joseph Pollock said: “Renee’s expertise in the field of motion picture production will enlarge the vision of the festival, while maintaining the same high standards that have defined it so far.”

Missel said that while she’s had no prior experience in programming a festival, she has been actively involved in Santa Barbara’s seminar series adjunct.

“My basic plan is to produce the event like a film,” said Missel. “My idea is to delegate wisely. Ideally, I want to involve filmmakers in both advisory and hands-on areas. The goal is to make it an event that will attract people and films because it will be organized by peers.”

She said that her “baptism of fire” will begin shortly with the start of the fall fest circuit. Among the priorities for the upcoming edition — running May 5-15 — is a competitive section of 12-15 films to be determined by an international jury.

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