The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicked off with a bang as Emilio Estevez’s film The Public opened to a large crowd at the Arlington Theater. There to celebrate the opening was Emilio Estevez and fellow cast members Alec Baldwin, Michael K. Williams, Jena Malone, Che Smith, Spencer Garrett and Jacob Vargas; festival jurors Anthony and Arnette Zerbe, Artie Schmidt, Geoffrey Cowper, Jan Biivoet, Jesus Lloveras, Jose Novoa, Leslie Zemeckis, Marc Meyers, Martin Gooch, and Mimi deGruy; as well as Martin Sheen and Mayor of Santa Barbara Cathy Murillo.
SBIFF director Roger Durling began the festival with a timely speech addressing the recent tragedies surrounding the wildfires and mudslides. After this tribute to the victims Estevez was brought on stage, joined by his cast, to introduce the film. Later it would be greatly received by the audience.
Alec Baldwin spoke highly of Estevez saying, “There’s a small menu of people in this business who when they call you and they ask you to come work with them, if you’re available, the answer is always yes. And this is one of those people right here.”
The Public proves true to that. At its core, it’s a touching movie about a public library that stages a stand-in to protest the lack of available homeless shelters around a freezing Cincinnati. Estevez wrote, directed and starred in the feature.
SBIFF’s opening night proved there’s much to look forward to. During the festival ribbons are available for purchase at the Metro 4 Theatre with all proceeds going directly to United Way of Santa Barbara County.