Santa Barbara News Press


Weekday showing big draw at festival
by Ben Hellworth

You've found the perfect movie in the Santa Barbara International Film Festival program. But the only screenings are in the middle of the day. Who's got the time?

Even writer-director Greg Lanesey was concerned prior to Friday's 2 p.m. showing of his witty exploration of L.A.-style dating rituals, "30, Still Single: Contemplating Suicide." Sure people lined up around the corner last Saturday night and the film's Santa Barbara debut at the Fiesta Five easily sold out.

"We actually turned away more people than we could put in the theater," the 33-year-old Michigan transplant said.

But could 286 seats be filled on a sunny Friday afternoon?

We pushed hard for them to give us a weekend screening," Lanesey said Friday in the Fiesta Five lobby. "And they said, 'No, be patient, they'll come at 2 o'clock,' and sure enough they came."

Ask those in line how they manage to take in a weekday movie and some merely respond with nervous laughter. Others have plausible alibis.

Take Lucia Rios, who is 27, single, and a nurse at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Friday is her day off.

Others got permission.

"I just told my boss that I worked extra hours during the week," said Fred Wilms, a 33-year-old Santa Barbara software programmer.

For Betsey Capetta and daughter Daniela, a UCSB sophomore, timing was everything.

"My husband and I are opening a small Italian restaurant in town. It's nor open yet," Capetta said. "So my daughter and I have decided to come out to the movie and take part in the film festival. Until we get the restaurant open, I'm free during the day."

So they came - and festival organizers say advance tickets sales have doubled this year from last year's tally of about 30,000.

Yet perhaps because of Friday's daytime slot, the crowd looked a little older than at the previous screening. Co-star Rachel Reenstra wondered whether those over 40 would appreciate the contemporary jargon of "30."

"A lot of the jokes are Generation X stuff", said Reenstra, who is not yet 30. "It depends how hip they are."

Well, the age-specific title didn't scare them away.

Whether dealing with birth or death,independent films are supposed to be edgy, and free to do more creative roaming than productions overseen by Hollywood studio honchos.

At least that's the theory. But as first time writer-director Matt Leutwyler said Thursday after the world premiere of "Road Kill," even the indies have to make compromises - or risk languishing on a shelf.

The 32-year-old already has a "director's cut" - the version he prefers - and the violence-reduced version that his producers believe is the right one to attract distributors.

"Road Kill" is basically a road-trip flick, but unlike those happy-go-silly-jaunts across Bali or Morocco with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, this darker tale deals with a professional hit woman's final job, the demons she confronts from her sexually abusive past, and the eager documentary film student who take cameras along for the ride.

Although "Road Kill" is equally loaded with bullets and humor, it's climax involves a torture scene in which the hired killer (Jennifer Rubin) gets medieval with the foster father who abused her.

"It's excruciating to watch. People hide their eyes and all that," said Leutwyler, 32, who began his college years in the mid 1980 at UCSB before transferring to San Francisco State. "But I feel it's really important. It's the moment when all her pent up aggression explodes on screen."

Leutwyler hoped his Los Angeles producers, Richard and Macie Jastrow, might allow him to show the full-length version when "Road Kill" is screened again at 4 p.m. today at the Fiesta Five. But judging from Marcie Jastrow's good natured head-shaking as she stood by during the question-and-answer session, the director's cut likely would remain in the can.

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