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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Oscar nom Kristen Stewart just brought a red carpet thrill to SBIFF

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Last night at the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) when Kristen Stewart arrived, you could actually hear the crowd roar outside in the light rain behind the makeshift metal gates along the street outside the Arlington Theater. And that’s how #KStew, in her fan shorthand, brought the post-pandemic thrill back to SBIFF when she accepted the American Riviera Award.

Part of the magic was a black and white feathery miniskirt on full gown mesh from Chanel’s S22 Spring collection. The extravaganza disguised as a dress prompted one Twitter fan ‘lena’ to caption a full-frame photo with “it’s kristen stewart’s world, we’re just lucky to be living in it.’

Hyperbole aside, the noise and clamor speaks to not only the Twilight crowd, but to the phenomenon that has become Kristen Stewart.

IndieWire’s Anne Thompson held forth on Stewart’s career-ranging Q & A, interspersed with clips from Panic Room, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Into the Wild, Adventureland, Still Alice, The Runaways, Twilight, Happiest Season, Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper, and Spencer. There’s KStew at age 10 with Jodie Foster in Panic Room, and at 14 in Zathura, when she winces. “She’s so mean. I would play that much differently now,” she says, cringing at the older sister Lisa who berates her little brothers.

For the Adventureland clips, Kristen breaks into a perfect impersonation of co-star Jesse Eisenberg, anxious and parsed perfectly in the trademark way he chops up his sentences. “I said, ‘let’s both go get a cookie,’” describing how she could tell his blood sugar was low because “he had sweaty hands” and became more anxious for being ribbed about it.


Inside the fan-packed Arlington, under the ceiling pinhole stars and with all the colorful festival branding, cheers erupt when Thompson turns the questions to Twilight. And Stewart deftly manages to sidestep the replacement of Director Catherine Hardwicke off the franchise after the big bang box office performance of the first movie. “I was kind of shielded from all of that.”

When the conversation turns to her personal life, now engaged to Dylan Meyer, the newly minted Oscar nominee takes the question with grace and poise worthy of a Royal Family member. “It’s the same love” she had with other people, is the gist, meaning the opposite sex in the past.

SPENCER will probably be the role that eclipses Twilight fame, to use a pun from that franchise. And the San Fernando Valley native, now 31, added detail to the performance that was previously mined in 2021 during an SBIFF with Executive Director Roger During.

Here’s a clip from SPENCER



Then it was on to the podium, with surprise guest Charlize Theron there to honor her friend and colleague. Her Snow White and The Huntsman co-star introduced Kristen with glowing remarks.

“You have a real commitment and it shows in everything you do. It's been so fun to watch the trajectory of your career. Spencer’, I have to say is my favorite work of yours to date. It’s not an easy task to take on the most iconic figure in modern history, but you let us into this character." You gave us a glimpse into her soul in the most tactful and heart wrenching way.”

Ever the gracious honoree, Stewart followed up with hugs, and a name-check for her fearless Director Pablo Larrain. “Thank you for acknowledging me at this time in my life. I’m in such a good place to receive it.," the Oscar nom said.

For Pablo Larrain? “I wish he was here right now. Thank you forever for this.”

For more info about SBIFF and upcoming events and tickets, which are still available as the festival runs through March 12, visit here.

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