Santa Barbara fest kicks off

Christie, Blanchett receive tributes

A pair of Oscar-nominated actresses were the toast of the town as the Santa Barbara Film Festival kicked off with tributes to Julie Christie and Cate Blanchett this past weekend. In separate conversations with critic Leonard Maltin, the women reflected on their craft.

Christie spoke admiringly about helmer Sarah Polley, who talked her into doing “Away From Her” over Christie’s strenuous objections. “I didn’t want to do it at first because I thought somebody else would do it better,” she said. “I think maybe I was wrong.”

On Saturday night at the Arlington Theater, a pregnant Blanchett received the festival’s Modern Master Award from helmer Todd Haynes. Blanchett quipped that she’d gotten her first break in “Paradise Road” because she fit the bill for a “cheap and cheerful Australian actress.” Haynes touched on her recent legit helming debut (Sydney Theater Company’s “Blackbird”), saying, “When Cate Blanchett starts directing, it’s over for all of us.”

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The week’s festivities have also included the bow of “Definitely, Maybe” and tributes to Javier Bardem and Ryan Gosling. Others in attendance included fest exec director Roger Durling and jurors Shohreh Aghdashloo and Domenica Cameron Scorsese. Fest ends Sunday.