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Santa Barbara Film Fest to Open With Docu ‘Mission Blue,’ Close With ‘Midnight’ Trilogy

Honorees include Cate Blanchett, Oprah Winfrey, Emma Thompson

The lineup for the 2014 Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival boasts 23 world premieres and 31 U.S. premieres as the festival gears up for its 29th year.

The films in this year’s festival represent 60 countries. The event begins Jan. 30 with the world premiere of Robert Nixon and Fisher Stevens’ feature documentary “Mission Blue” (pictured) shown at the historic Arlington Theatre and closes Feb. 9 with a screening of the “Before” trilogy (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,”) to be followed by a conversation with “Before Midnight” co-screenwriters Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and writer-director Richard Linklater.

Some of the films making their world premieres include Andrew Fleming’s “Barefoot” with Evan Rachel Wood and “The Village of Peace,” directed by Nicholas Philipides and Ben Schuder. The festival will mark the U.S. premieres of films such as Claudia Sainte-Luce’s “The Amazing Catfish” and Jason Baffa’s “Bella Vita.”

Special presentations include “Gabrielle,” “Child’s Pose,” “Ilo Ilo” and “Bethlehem” while a Screen Cuisine section will feature “A Year in Champagne,” “Le Chef” and “Make Hummus Not War.”

The messages behind the movies appears to have been a key factor when selecting a film to open the 2014 festival .

“The importance of keeping a sense of exploration and being aware of global issues — as represented in our choice for opening night, ‘Mission Blue’ — is an overriding theme in our 29th edition of SBIFF,” executive director Roger Durling said in a statement.

The festival will also honor some potential Academy Awards frontrunners including Oprah Winfrey (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”), who will receive the Montecito Award, and “Saving Mr. Banks” actress Emma Thompson, who will be given the Modern Master Award. The Performer of the Year Award will go to Cate Blanchett for her work in “Blue Jasmine” and actors Daniel Bruhl, Adele Exarchopoulos, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jared Leto and June Squibb will be recognized as the recipients of the 2014 Virtuosos Award.

A total of 156 films will be screened at SBIFF 2014, representing categories including international, independent and documentary features as well as Spanish/Latin American and Eastern Bloc features, social justice, live action short films and animated short films.

A complete list of the SBIFF 2014 film lineup can be found at sbiff.org.

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