Interview: Brad Bird

February 1, 2008 10:48 AM
Brad Bird’s tenacity as a young man has paid off.
Born in Montana, he visited the Walt Disney Animation Studios when he was 11 years old and told animators there he would be one of them one day. Three years later, he turned up with a short film.
Not that he joined the payroll immediately — he attended CalArts before taking a job he couldn’t refuse at Disney (despite dropping out of CalArts, Bird says they love to have him back to speak to students).
Now, his films — “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” and “Ratatouille” — offer some of the greatest pleasures of the last ten years in terms of universal appeal, design, and storytelling. “Ratatouille” was denied a Best Picture Oscar nomination despite garnering rave reviews (he received’s Golden Tomato award for the best-reviewed film of the year), but the film still managed five nominations from the Academy.

Brad Bird stands at far left with Patton Oswalt, middle, who voiced Rata’s adorable lead character, Remy, seen here, and with one of the film’s producers, Brad Lewis. Below, Bird stands with Peter O’Toole, who voiced the character of cranky food critic Anton Ego.

On Saturday, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival invites Bird for a “Conversations With” event, preceded by a screening of the documentary “The Pixar Story.”
He first worked on 1981’s “The Fox and Hound.” It was there where he was mentored by some of the best classical animators of the era, but his real break came when Steven Spielberg asked him to script a live action episode of “Amazing Stories” in 1985. That led to a second episode, this time fully animated. “Family Dog” became his calling card: Bird could animate and tell a good story.
This episode led to executive consultant jobs on The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and then finally the chance to write and direct an animated feature, “The Iron Giant,” based on the Ted Hughes book. Pixar took notice and offered Bird the step over into computer animation. In the 12 years since Pixar’s “Toy Story,” Bird says both technology and perceptions have changed.

“It’s amazing,” he says. “Look at the human characters in those (Toy Story and Ratatouille). It’s very different. There’s such control now, and so many controls the animator has at their disposal. (Computer Generation) is a tool like any other, but I think it’s a really flexible, wonderful one.
“We are moving past an unfortunate period where studios thought that CG was the only way to be successful,” he says. “It’s not what you use to make the film, it’s how you tell the story. It’s the characters, and it’s the graphic style. Now we have successful films that are not just CG, but traditional 2D animation, or stop-motion. All kinds of films can and should be made.”
Bird now juggles the mantles of writer, director, and animator. But what of the young boy who wanted to draw cartoons?
“I can draw, I can storyboard, I can even design some characters if you hold a gun to my head,” he says. “There are sections in all my films that I know specifically how it should look. I draw the scenes as I write them, I don’t do it later.
“The writers’ strike is seen by some as a symposium on us directors. But as a writer-director, it’s its own continual process. I’m even writing in the editing room, when I’m reshaping the narrative in the final cut. I don’t know, would you call that directing? Or writing?”
Although known for films that appeal to all ages, Bird says that having kids of his own hasn’t changed the way he writes. He certainly wouldn’t write for kids.
“No good things can come from that,” he says. “You have to write for yourself. But it has helped me as a director in that it’s taught me patience.” As he is accustomed to doing, Bird lets out a hearty chuckle. “Adults, like children, seldom ask directly for what they want. Adults are just like kids, but with an ability to disguise what they think behind sympathetic patter.”
CONVERSATION WITH BRAD BIRD, preceded by screening of ‘The Pixar Story’
When: Screening begins at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, discussion at 6 p.m.
Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.
Cost: $13
Information: 963-0761 or
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Meanwhile back on the ranch: Tommy Lee Jones honored by SBIFF for accomplished career

January 31, 2008 8:19 AM
For more then 30 years, actor Tommy Lee Jones has found a comfortable niche playing both hero and villain and characters that share a little bit of both.
He’s played killer Gary Gilmore in “The Executioner’s Song” — his first Emmy Award — and Loretta Lynn’s husband in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” He’s been in some of 1990s biggest blockbusters — “The Fugitive (his first Oscar, too, for Best Supporting Actor) and its sequel; “Men in Black” and its sequel.
But 2007 turned out to be a dramatically successful year for Mr. Jones as well. His grief-stricken father in Paul Haggis’s “In the Valley of Elah” and his troubled sheriff in “No Country for Old Men,” both embody a country that still knows what it takes to be great but fears it has irrevocably lost its way. The actor receives the American Riviera Award from Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday at the Lobero Theatre.
In interview, however, Mr. Jones remains serious and taciturn. And though he does own a ranch outside of San Antonio, he’s reluctant to draw any comparisons between his characters and himself. “I don’t identify with any of the characters I play,” he says. “I think that professional objectivity is important to me.”
Yet his desire to act and his big break stem from a desire to be something larger than life. Although his first film role was in “Love Story” (in which the Ryan O’Neil character was modeled on both Mr. Jones and his roommate at Harvard, Al Gore), Mr. Jones managed seven years in New York theater, some appearances in episodic TV drama, and then scored his breakthrough with Roger Corman, who cast him as Coley Blake in “Jackson County Jail.”
“I left (New York City) saying what I really want to do . . . was play a character who gets to carry a big pistol and have a woman at his side. And I got to do that . . . and that’s when I started making American movies. I earned enough money I could buy myself a second-hand pickup.”
In answering several questions about acting, Mr. Jones’ views are utilitarian. There’s no mystery to it. It’s a job. His ability to navigate a career without the typecasting is equally without special meaning. “I don’t put it down to anything. I just do my best in the role.”
What does animate Mr. Jones is talking about the San Antonio ranch, and even then, it’s to note that it isn’t a getaway — there’s hard work, too.
“When I’m there I drive around in my truck with a clipboard and make sure things get done. I try to be on hand for cattle working. I’m there when we buy cattle, and I deal with stocking rates. I could tell you more, but it would sound like Agriculture 101.”
Mr. Jones’ Hollywood clout and determination to tell stories has led to directing, once in 1995 (“The Good Old Boys”) and in 2005 for “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” It’s a film he holds dear — and one that few people have seen.
He urges his fans to seek it out.
Mr. Jones also holds rights to Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” and another novel adaptation he is trying to get off the ground, Ernest Hemingway’s last novel, “Islands in the Stream.”
“It was made into a bad movie once,” Mr. Jones says. “But I believe there’s a good movie in the book.” He has co-written the script and plans to direct.
Regardless, he begins 2008 ready to work as usual. Does he have time to relax? The answer is typical Tommy Lee Jones:
“Well, I’m pretty well relaxed most of the time. I’m relaxed on set. The faster you work, the more you have to relax.”
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

The young and the recognized : Film festival’s new award honors five at Lobero

Actress Amy Ryan is all smiles as she walks the red carpet to receive her award at the Lobero Theatre on Wednesday night.

January 31, 2008 8:09 AM
Not one, but five upcoming actors received honors Wednesday night at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. In what one actor joked was a sort of “new kids on the block” of stars, the quintet made up of Casey Affleck, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Marion Cotillard and James McAvoy was honored with the new Virtuosos Award at a packed Lobero Theatre.
Four of the five actors are up for Academy Awards.
Mr. McAvoy may have been snubbed this year for an Oscar, but his performance in Joe Wright’s “Atonement” has won him many adoring fans, as did his lead role in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland.”
“Recognition is a bonus,” he said of receiving awards, and added that the knowledge that people are seeing the film is what’s important.
Mr. Affleck is Oscar-nominated for his supporting role in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” where he plays the title assassin. The role, he said, is “the first time I could play a character that complicated.” And he noted that a “good chunk of time in the film” is devoted to each facet.
He followed up “Assassination” with “Gone Baby Gone,” directed by his brother Ben, where he shares screen time with fellow honoree Amy Ryan.
Ms. Ryan, who flew in from sunny Spain to extra chilly Santa Barbara after shooting a film, co-stars in “Gone Baby Gone” as the drug-addicted mother of a missing child. The role earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
Asked if she saw any similar thread running through her four fellow honorees, the actress said, “I see that doe in the headlights look.”
The youngest member of the group, Ellen Page, has come into the public’s consciousness with the teen-pregnancy comedy “Juno,” in which she plays the title character.
She has noted how the film earned her many new young, female fans that have seen the film “three to five times or more.”
The character of Juno can hopefully show young women “the passion that we need” to get through that experience, she said.

Actor Casey Affleck, shown in a digital camera’s viewfinder, is on his way to accept his award
Although Mr. McAvoy and Mr. Affleck attracted many excited fans outside on the red carpet, Marion Cotillard’s fans serenaded her when she stepped out of her limousine. The song of choice was appropriate — “La Vie En Rose” — for the actress who portrays chanteuse Edith Piaf in the film of the same name.
Her transformation through the film from energetic street singer to crippled yet famous star earned her a Best Actress Oscar nod. Her research — through books and film footage — was broad, Ms. Cotillard said, and even though she loved the script there was so much to Piaf’s life that “you could do a lot of movies about her.”
The evening devoted time to each actor, with a career montage followed by an interview with film editor of the Hollywood Journal, Gregg Kilday.
At the end of the evening, all five shared space on the stage for further discussion.
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Actor Javier Bardem honored at SBIFF

“No Country for Old Men” star Javier Bardem talks to members of the media on the red carpet at the Arlington where he was present to receive the Montecito Award.

January 29, 2008 7:26 AM

Although blessed with a leading-man face, actor Javier Bardem has spent his years in film disappearing into roles.
He has gained weight, lost hair and been aged 50 years through make-up artists. But this ability to metamorphose and disappear into character has earned the actor two Academy Award nominations, and he was winner of the Actor in a Supporting Role category at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards. And at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival Monday night at the Arlington Theatre, it led to the Montecito Award.
Mr. Bardem currently stars as the evil monster of a hitman, Anton Chigurh, in the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men.” The role earned him his second Oscar nomination.
The actor, however, takes all the attention with a great deal of modesty.
“I guess they had some impression from (my character’s) haircut and cattle gun,” he said, as he stopped for questions on the red carpet.

Javier Bardem chats with SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling at the Arlington where he received the Montecito Award.

True, Chigurh’s appearance and way of dispatching victims makes the picture. But as SBIFF Executive Artistic Director Roger Durling pointed out in his introduction of Mr. Bardem, it is the character under the pageboy haircut that gives us nightmares.
“I’m overwhelmed by the size of the theater . . . and by the size of the people,” the actor joked of the three-quarters- filled Arlington. He said he was also happy that “somebody may be interested in what I’m doing.”
Audiences have been interested since Mr. Bardem began acting on Spanish television in the ’80s. A montage of clips highlighted his multifaceted career Monday night, from Spanish films rarely seen in America to his recent appearances in “The Sea Inside,” “Love in the Time of Cholera,” and “Collateral.”
Outside the theater, Mr. Bardem said it was hard to watch himself in his films, even when he looks so different. Can he ever separate himself from the person on screen?
“I wish,” he said, “but it’s impossible. That’s the test for an actor. But all you see is your stupid face making stupid faces.”
His fans disagree.
“He’s a class of actor who’s so invested in a role that he disappears into it,” said Peter Gelles, who came from Los Angeles for the show. “Peter Sellers was another actor like that.”
“He so takes over aspects of a character . . . their mannerisms, that you don’t recognize him,” agreed Karoliina Tuovinen, who assisted in the editing of the montage, but is first and foremost a Bardem fan.
Woody Harrelson, Mr. Bardem’s co-star in “No Country for Old Men,” was the presenter of the award.
Mr. Bardem maintains strong ties to his home city of Madrid. Asked about learning English to gain more roles, he said that he still attends the same acting school that he’s been at for 20 years. “I have the same teacher, too, Carlos Corazza.”
For the actor, the attention is not just about his name, but that of his whole family, all of whom are actors or directors or tied to the arts. It was important, he said, because not long ago actors “were not allowed to be buried on sacred land,” he noted, adding that the (Spanish Catholic) authorities considered them “as homosexuals and prostitutes.”
Now, facing the attention and affection from the audience and the film festival, he said, “I feel like I can do anything.”

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Film fest features local hot docs : Film students turn their classwork into subjects of varied documentaries

From left, Jody Nelson, Allen Park and Diane Stevens were among the filmmakers whose documentaries were shown at the Marjorie Luke Theatre on Sunday.

January 28, 2008 7:33 AM

Affordable equipment and the increasing number of filmmaking classes throughout Santa Barbara mean that more and more residents are directing and producing movies than ever before.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has been aware of this for many years now and includes a regular series of “Santa Barbara Filmmakers” within the fest, with shorts, experimental and documentary works receiving their own showings.
This year’s Student Documentary section revealed how flexible the definition of both “student” and “documentary” can be.
Although Diane Stevens has been out of Brooks Institute for many years, her film “Don Riders” comes not just from her directing and producing hand, but also from the collective of high-school filmmakers and musicians whom she assembled for the project.
Ostensibly, the documentary focuses on Santa Barbara High School’s low-rider bicycle club, where Latino youth build fabulously kitted-out (fully equipped) bicycles from scratch. Membership is contingent on keeping a 2.0 average or higher.
At 35 minutes, the doc stretches to show how the club has kept its members out of gangs, but also shows how the members utilized the free music studio at the Twelve35 Teen Center to create the film’s soundtrack. The film itself is proof how art — whether film or building bikes — can make a difference.
Ms. Stevens got inspired after visiting the club’s 2007 banquet. She pitched the idea of a film to the high school, suggesting that media students be the ones to shoot the footage. Two cliques that had never interacted now had to work together.
“The shoot was organized chaos,” Ms. Stevens says. “The (film) students were scared as hell . . . when we went into the low riders’ neighborhoods. But they’ve made major connections since and now a lot are friends.”

Jody Nelson is a former physical education teacher who is currently a returning student at SBCC’s SOMA classes.
She’s earned her degree but continually takes classes, she says, to keep up with new technology.
As a result of several courses she took from instructor Curtis Bieber, she has produced and directed three shorts. “Iron Boy,” which the SBIFF selected to show, focuses on a 9-year-old triathlete named Brynn Sargent. Ms. Nelson’s film keeps it short and sweet, creating a portrait of this Sacramento native who speaks with the confidence and clarity of a man twice his age.
“I made the video for Curtis’ class and turned it in on time,” she says, “but Curtis pushed me to work on it more and send it out there.”
Ms. Nelson’s SBIFF showing demonstrates to her that her career shift is starting to pay off.
Allen Park’s “Scene and Heard: A Musical History of Isla Vista” came out of similar circumstances.
This history of Isla Vista and its music scene started off as a project in Dana Driscoll’s documentary class at UCSB, but when Mr. Park and his producing partner, Brett Service, hit a rich seam of subject matter, the two continued with the film as an independent study.
“We think it’s a very important historical document,” says Mr. Service of the film, which features a wide selection of archival footage on UCSB student life and of the evolution of its “student ghetto,” where bands can spring out of nowhere and play to thousands of students on Del Playa and Anisquoyo Park a day later. Mr. Park includes interviews with Jack Johnson, Henry Sarria and Paul Marshall (of Strawberry Alarm Clock fame), as well as other musicians. As a short (25 minute) overview of a misunderstood part of larger Santa Barbara, the film “speaks for itself,” according to Mr. Park.

The hour-long program of docs screens again on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Center Stage Theater, 9:30 p.m. Those wanting tickets to the event can call 963-0761.

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

The keys to success : Film festival gives Amy Ryan a Virtuoso award

Golden Globe nominee Amy Ryan will be one of five performers recognized during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award ceremony

January 28, 2008 7:30 AM

Few performers in Hollywood can claim overnight success. Amy Ryan isn’t one of them either — she paid her dues until a key minor role in the 2005 film “Capote” raised her profile.
Ms. Ryan played Marie, wife of Alvin Dewey, the Kansas Board of Investigation detective. The Deweys let Capote and Harper Lee stay at their home, and though these scenes are short, Ms. Ryan’s Marie is no background character. The actress makes her feel like a living being and not a plot device.
“I had casting directors calling me back after that,” Ms. Ryan told the News-Press. “They kept saying ‘I didn’t recognize you!’ But I had been here all along.”
Her tenacity has paid off with a breakout performance in Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone,” where she plays the complex Helene, the drug-addicted mother of the film’s missing child.
Now with a Golden Globe nomination, Ms. Ryan’s talent will be celebrated Wednesday at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award ceremony, where she will share the honor with four others: Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, James McAvoy and Ellen Page.
Ms. Ryan says she’s getting used to the attention.
“I like the awards where they just announce the winners, like the NYFCC,” she says (that’s the New York Film Critics Circle, who awarded her Best Supporting Actress.) “You get a call and it’s, ‘Would you like to dress up and come to this party? We have an award for you.’ Sure! I’d love to.”
In between “Capote” and Mr. Affleck’s crime drama hangs her best-known role, for those with HBO, anyway: As Officer Beatrice “Beadie” Russell on “The Wire.” She became a central part of Season Two’s sex-trafficking and port authority storyline, a patrol cop who rises to the occasion when a great crime is uncovered.
That show’s gritty realism has been carried over to her work on “Gone Baby Gone.”
“In terms of creating the character, I started with the words on the page and the words in the book,” she said. “And then Ben and I talked a lot. I told him that she can’t be all evil; she truly loves the daughter despite what happens. But she’s a very guarded person, and very much into self-survival.”
And though Ms. Ryan hails from Queens, N.Y., (“born and raised, yeah,” she says stretching out the last word with an exaggerated accent for fun), she’s managed to disappear into every character’s voice and mannerisms, from “Capote’s” Kansas to “The Wire’s” Baltimore to “Gone Baby Gone’s” Boston dialect.
“I couldn’t have gotten the character right if we weren’t filming in Boston,” she said. “You can have a dialogue coach, but sitting down to lunch with these people is the best way to learn the accent.”
Not to mention that the role is, as Ms. Ryan describes, a collaboration with Ben Affleck. She has nothing but praise for this actor-turned-director.
“He’s the best,” she says.
“I think it’s his natural calling. He’s gracious and generous and knows to surround himself with the best, such as John Toll, his (director of photography). He’s also not shy enough to stop sometimes and say, ‘Hey, I’m lost.’ “
Ms. Ryan is wrapping up Paul Greengrass’ next film, tentatively titled “Green Zone,” with Matt Damon, and is looking forward to the premiere of Clint Eastwood’s “The Changeling,” where she shares scenes with SBIFF honoree Angelina Jolie.
Not a bad place to end up after 20 years of hard work.
“And right now,” she said, “I’m seeing where this path leads me.”

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Interview: Javier Bardem grabs film fest’s Montecito Award

January 27, 2008 7:23 AM

Many in the audience who sat enthralled by the dark villainy of Anton Chigurh, the killing machine in the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” may not have recognized Javier Bardem as the same actor who starred in Julian Schnabel’s “Before Night Falls” as gay Cuban poet and dissident Reinaldo Arenas. The Arenas role earned Mr. Bardem a Golden Globe nomination; “No Country” won him one (for Best Supporting Actor).
He has another honor in the bag: the Montecito Award, presented by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The Spanish actor will pick up the award, created to honor a series of classic and standout performances, Monday night at the Lobero Theatre.
Mr. Bardem, 38, has been working in front of the camera since he was 6 — not too much of a surprise when you consider his grandfather and uncle are both directors and his siblings also act. But there was also a time when he was a member of the Spanish national rugby team.
Foreign film buffs may recognize his first Spanish breakout role as the lover of Penelope Cruz’s character in “Jam0x97n, jam0x97n” from 1992. It took until 2000 and “Before Night Falls” to break into American film, but he did so to obvious success.
Since then, he’s made appearances in Michael Mann’s “Collateral” and starred in “The Sea Inside,” but even still, “No Country” feels like a revelation.
Mr. Bardem chooses carefully, some might say too carefully. His interviews and articles for previous films describe a reluctant actor who needed major convincing before taking a part.
In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Bardem said he wasn’t sure if his style is a quality or a curse.
“I guess it’s about facing what you really are and knowing what you can bring to other people’s process,” he said. “It’s best to know your limitations and good to step out if you’re not the right guy. It’s good to have no surprises.”
Of course, this sounds odd coming from someone with Mr. Bardem’s rèsumè — and mid-sentence he reconsiders.
“But you never know what those surprises will be. That’s the fun part. Some people love to jump off the cliff into the water without checking how deep it is,” he said.
In “No Country For Old Men,” Mr. Bardem’s Chigurh chases Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss, who has stolen a bag of money from a drug deal gone bad. Chasing both is Tommy lee Jones’ Sheriff Bell, who follows a trail of bodies left in Chigurh’s wake.
Though the trio is connected by fate, the actors never share a scene together, except for a murky gunfight in a street.
“It was like we were doing three different movies,” Mr. Bardem recalled.
“The only connection between all three is Kelly McDonald’s character.” (Ms. McDonald shares major, separate scenes with all three).
For Mr. Bardem, he has his own theory for why this works.
“They are three different sides of male behavior. Tommy is goodwill; Josh is an impulsive kind of violence; I play this kind of nonsense violence, just pure aggression . . . the movie is a statement of too much testosterone making things go very wrong.”
Mr. Bardem recently wrapped on Woody Allen’s latest film, “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” shot in Barcelona, Spain.
“I have no idea what the finished movie will be like; that is up to Allen’s magic,” the actor said. “It was a great pleasure to work with Allen, but very demanding. He puts you in a position where you are . . . obliged to just ‘be.’ There is no time to ‘act.’ For my country, it is a big honor to have him shooting here.”

The Javier Bardem tribute is 8 p.m. Monday at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. Tickets are $65. For information and tickets, call 963-0761 or 963-4408, or log on to

Article: QUEEN AND POET : Cate Blanchett receives Modern Master Award at SBIFF

January 27, 2008 7:20 AM

From dressing like the Virgin Queen to playing Bob Dylan in drag,
actress Cate Blanchett has had a busy 2007. And with both of those roles earning her Oscar nominations (Best Actress for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and Best Supporting Actress for “I’m Not There”), she was honored Saturday by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
She received the Modern Master Award in a tribute that included a look back on a career that includes nearly 40 films in about 13 years.
Despite the bad weather, film fans turned out in great numbers to see the program at the Lobero Theatre.
“I know we are honoring her as a Modern Master, but Cate is an incredibly young and vital person,” said presenter Todd Haynes, director of “I’m Not There.”
In the Bob Dylan-based fantasia, the actress plays the poet and singer in drag, when Mr. Dylan “was at his most androgynous,” according to Mr. Haynes. The 1966 version of Mr. Dylan, the mysterious figure of D.A. Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Back” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” suited Ms. Blanchett, who has been adventurous in movies like Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes,” where she played two versions of herself in deep conversation with each other.

Ms. Blanchett said she inhabited the Dylan character for three weeks.
“I lost a lot of weight and studied the raw footage of his press conferences from that time. Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen gave me a lot to watch.”
If there was one song that helped her get into character, it was “Tombstone Blues,” she said. “It was important to Todd that it be a liberating role, and not just mimicry.”
Asked if she had any ill effects after playing “Bob” for all that time, she smiled and said, “The smoking! I’m not a smoker, and Dylan chain-smoked through the entire thing.”
Last year and this year may well be one of Ms. Blanchett’s busiest periods so far, she said. On top of these two roles, she spent time working on David Fincher’s “The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button” (alongside her “Babel” co-star Brad Pitt) and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
Saturday’s tribute, hosted by critic Leonard Maltin, looked back on a body of work that includes her breakthrough film, “Oscar and Lucinda” (1997), “Elizabeth” (1998), “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” all three “Lord of the Rings” films and “Notes on a Scandal,” which, along with “Elizabeth,” earned her Oscar nominations.
It was 2005’s “The Aviator,” in which she played Katharine Hepburn, that earned Ms. Blanchett her first Oscar.

Ms. Blanchett, visibly pregnant in her green evening dress, took time to meet with fans before the show.
One of them, Matt Wallace, said he was lucky enough to have his festival pass signed by the actress.
“I said congratulations to her,” said Mr. Wallace, who was impressed by the evening. “It’s a really touching tribute. The festival puts a lot of time into these events, and the stars looked very touched by them.”

Miss Julie – Julie Christie receives tribute at Santa Barbara International Film Festival event

Julie Christie heads into the Lobero Theatre for a special evening in her honor where a question and answer session and a montage of film clips awaited her.

January 26, 2008 7:31 AM
“She is not a woman who lives in the past. She is not a woman who likes delving into the past. That is why this is a special evening.”
Critic Leonard Maltin was speaking about the actress Julie Christie, whom the Santa Barbara International Film Festival honored in its second evening with a career-spanning tribute at the Lobero Theatre. The usually private Ms. Christie answered questions from Mr. Maltin at the near-capacity theater.
The actress is in the limelight thanks to her role in Sarah Polley’s 2006 film, “Away From Her,” which has earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress — her fourth nomination. The others were for “Afterglow” (1997), “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1971) and “Darling” (1965), which she turned into Oscar gold.
That film, though not her first, began her career, and led to a string of popular and critical hits. The list reads like a course of classic ’60s and ’70s cinema: “Doctor Zhivago,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Far from the Madding Crowd,” “Petulia,” “The Go-Between,” “Don’t Look Now,” “Shampoo” and “Heaven Can Wait.”
“Even from her first films,” said Mr. Maltin in his introduction, “she has always projected an intelligence and curiosity.”

Director Norman Jewison and an unidentified friend stop to chat with the media and fans at the Lobero Theatre on Friday night.
“Away From Her” stars Ms. Christie as Fiona — wife of a philandering husband — who begins to succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. She decides to check herself into a home rather than put her husband through the emotional upheaval of looking after her. The film, which screened at last year’s festival and returned for a special screening earlier Friday, manages many levels of complexity and allows the actress an impressive spectrum of emotions.
Asked about the film on her brief but courteous red carpet appearance, Ms. Christie spoke less of herself and more about her director, Sarah Polley. The young actress-turned-director had worked under Atom Egoyan, one of Canada’s most respected directors, and her debut film is very polished.
“She’s very tenacious,” said Ms. Christie. “She has a very clear vision of what she wants, and she will absolutely hold on to it. She’s also great fun to work with. She’s very funny and very lighthearted and creates a relaxed atmosphere on set. Which of course is what we actors love to have.”
Asked about her favorite scene in the film as an actor, she smiled and said, “My two favorite scenes got cut out.”
It was hard to tell if she was kidding.
“Away From Her” deals with Alzheimer’s in a direct, sometimes unflattering way, but the star said that it serves a purpose.
“It has made me and many other people aware of mortality,” she said. “Whether through Alzheimer’s or not, (the film is) a way of making you prepared for one’s own demise.”
Although her rèsumè shows a steadily working actress, a film like “Away From Her” is called a “comeback,” a notion Mr. Maltin tried to dispel in his introduction.
“Well, as for a comeback, she’s never gone away,” he said. “She works when the spirit moves her, and she chooses well.”
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press