The Heart of Spain – Flamenco Arts Festival returns to Santa Barbara with a master pianist

By the time you read this, Alberto Pizano will have already been handed the resolution honoring Spanish Heritage Month from Santa Barbara County and had his photo taken as a thank you. For the council, Pizano represents the best in our community, and those in the arts will know that Pizano and his daughter Vibiana, co-founders of the Flamenco Arts Festival, represent the opportunity to see a culture that often seems so close to us, yet still a continent away. For 10 years, the Pizanos have brought the top stars of this flamenco to our city.

The Pizanos have marked the 11th year of the two-day festival by moving in a new direction, as far as traditional flamenco goes. David Peña Dorantes changed the flamenco world in his native Spain by choosing the piano — not the traditional guitar — to play, and now he is coming here.

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Gyro Worship – There’s more to the 37th Annual Greek Fest than just the food

It’s easy to take the Greek Festival for granted sometimes. Even in the economic downturn, the fest managed to do well, if not better than ever, last year.

“Our resolve last year was it was going to be the best and the biggest and the one with the most profit,” George Mamalakis, manager of the ever-popular gyro booth, says. Luckily, their hopes came true, and all proceeds went to the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox church.

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Creative Juices – CAF highlights the best of the Ottawa Animation Festival

STILL FROM MICHAL SOCHAS' CHICK
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S ‘CHICK’[/caption]

In Canada, the city of Ottawa has earned a reputation as a hub for film festivals, and one of its most popular is the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival. Part of that reputation comes from its community-building before, during and after the screenings, and part comes from its openness to local and amateur filmmakers, but a major ingredient has to be the pure quality of films each year.

But there’s no need to travel to the Great White North, as the festival packages an 80-minute compilation of its prize-winners to tour. This tour stops at Santa Barbara’s own Contemporary Arts Forum this Thursday to show, as part of First Thursdays.

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Music is the Healer – Ian Franklin’s musical journey comes to Lompoc Flower Festival

Ian Wilkerson Photo
Ian Wilkerson Photo

There’s another annual event to look out for at this Wednesday’s Flower Festival in Lompoc, and that’s the return of Ian Franklin. This Bay Area musician with the Central Coast connections appeared last year at the Festival and returns for the second time for a rock and folk infusion of his songwriting skills.

“Lompoc is my second home,” says Franklin, who spent many a summer there with his father, a local chiropractor. The Flower Festival was always a main attraction during those visits, and it took some encouraging from dear ol’ dad to finally submit his CD to the festival organizers. “He kept egging me on to perform there,” he says.

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Fiddle-Dee-Dee – Fourth Annual FiddleFest pours wines and bluegrass tunes for a good cause

Bob Dickey Photo
Bob Dickey Photo

Fiddlehead Cellars never took its name from the actual instrument or from its owners’ interest in music. Instead, the winery takes its name from the curly tip of a fern, which some cultures even pickle as a food. And Fiddlestix, the name of the vineyard, is a gosh darn ol’ swear word. But none of that matters in the fourth year of the FiddleFest, one of the Lompoc area’s favorite fundraisers, as wine tasting and bluegrass music will go hand in hand.

“Just as I started getting everybody that this was about the plant, then I went and added the twist of the fiddle music,” says Kathy Joseph, who owns Fiddlehead along with her husband

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Extravaganza Festival

MATT WEIR/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
MATT WEIR/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

UCSB’s Harder Stadium rocked and swayed to the six-band day-long festival Extravaganza this last Saturday. According to unofficial estimates out of the Associated Student Board, 13,000 students and music fans attended this free concert that has been put on by the Board since 1979. Winners of the local Battle of the Bands competiton, Soul Minded, opened the show, followed by the Super Mash Brothers, who DJ’d a set of contemporary hip-hop mixed in with classic pop and rock. L.A.-based cult act Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes returned to Santa Barbara once again ahead of a July gig in town and serenaded the audience with their huge, Spector-ish wall of sound. The final two acts both hailed from Canada: Montreal’s Chromeo conjured the ’80s electro-funk of a Dazz or Gap Band with just a guitar and a keyboard, pre-recorded beats and a well-used vocoder, and the crowd swelled for closing Toronto-born hip-hop artist Drake, who brought on surprise guest Birdman to spit rhymes alongside. Drake performed with a band as well as a DJ. In the beginning, the lines to get into Extravaganza were long even for a free event, yet after a few hours, access in and out was easy. The lines for the various food stalls inside, however, remained deep for the entire festival.

Green Day – Second year of Green Shorts Fest comes to the Lobero

As Earth Day approaches, the question often arises, How can one person make a difference? The answer: there are as many ways as there are people asking. For 32 of those answers, look to the 2010 Green Shorts Film Festival, showing tonight at the Lobero Theatre at a special event and awards ceremony.

With Earth Day’s theme set as “Bringing it Home,” the Community Environmental Council asked everyone from young schoolchildren to filmmakers amateur and pro to conceive a two-minute film “regarding sustainable living, eating and growing local food, sustainable transportation, energy independence and a green future without petroleum.” That’s according to the press release and contest poster.

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When the Alarm Clock Sounds : Human rights worldwide explored over four evenings at UCSB

Last year, UCSB’s Human Rights Film Festival promised six films over three days of double features. True to its incremental popularity, this year the fest has added on another day, two more features and two short films.

Like previous years, the festival tells two truths. The first, documentaries are still flourishing to cover the stories that our traditional media fail to tell, and second, that women make up a majority of the filmmakers, an inverse situation to that of Hollywood.

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Climb Every Mountain — Popular Banff documentary film festival returns to UCSB for two days

"TAKE A SEAT"
“TAKE A SEAT”
There are film festivals that you go to in the mountains, like Sundance and Telluride. And then there are film festivals that come from the mountains to you. That would be the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which swings past UCSB this Tuesday and Wednesday for two days of the best in mountain-themed documentaries, from climbing to gliding.

The festival has been coming to UCSB on tour since 1992. The festival originally started as a community event in Banff, Canada. It was a way, Fest coordinator Seana Strain says, of bridging the gap between the summer and winter recreational seasons. It gained such popularity that the festival was taken on the road. The first tour went across Canada only, but the word of mouth spread. Today, the tour hits 30 cities worldwide, and even includes a few shows in the Antarctic, making this viewable in all seven continents.

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The only way is up — Pete Docter of Pixar speaks about his helium-filled adventure ‘Up’

Pixar continued its string of hits in 2009 with the poignant, swashbuckling and often hilarious “Up.” As consistent as the films have been, so too have the filmmakers, as three years of interviewing the directors has shown. Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton and another one of Pixar’s original crew, Pete Docter (“Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.”), are all affable, talkative, friendly creators who never seem to tire of answering questions about their films. Docter grew up in Minneapolis, but he knows Santa Barbara from visiting his grandparents here, and he’ll return once again to screen “Up” and take part in the Festival’s screenwriter and director panels this weekend.

In “Up”, Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) attaches thousands of balloons to his house and goes in search of Paradise Falls to fulfill a promise to his deceased wife. He has a stowaway, Russell, an eager boy scout, and a later meeting with a boyhood hero, Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer).

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