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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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SBIFF in Tweets: Outstanding Director Award last night

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Not to say that Steven Spielberg phoned it in last night, but the WEST SIDE STORY teller had to appear by video link at the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) due to what Executive Director Roger Durling said was? "They tested positive for Covid." Did he mean Spielberg, who looked healthy as a peach on the link? Or Jane Campion on the screen from New Zealand? Perhaps DRIVE MY CAR's Ryusuke Hamaguchi is the only one of the three to actually test positive?

Hamaguchi spoke via video link with interviewer Scott Feinberg from The Hollywood Reporter, who conducted all the chats for the evening, to say that he was in quarantine for 14 days. He apologized profusely, name-checking each director, including Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA) and Kenneth Branagh, who did make the event in person. So welcome to the big nights of SBIFF in its 37th year, with this hybrid live and virtual event.

PTA warmed up the crowd with his Valley signature humor, saying his friend Gary Goeztman inspired his Oscar-nominated film LICORICE PIZZA with "he's the kind of friend who will say, 'did I tell you about the time I murdered somebody?'" To crowd laughter, PTA dialed down some of the elements of being a director in general. "Acting is kind of bullshit," the There Will Be Blood helmer joked.

Jane Campion told of her days with "mean technical people, mostly guys." "This is when there were very few women in the business," The Power of the Dog's auteur said. Then she admitted to making Benedict Cumberbatch waltz with Jesse Plemons, as a way to force Plemons into submission for the film's imbalance of power between the brothers. "Jesse is actually more of an alpha than Ben," so she whittled down the difference by making Benedict dominant dance partner.

Kenneth Branagh said he was that kid watching British film Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang in Belfast, Northern Ireland when the street flash grenade went off during the troubles. "I was so young," BELFAST's director explained, while praising his cast members to a person. He added that even Dame Judi Dench said "I love that man," about "soulful" Ciarán Hinds after a take.

Before you hear the recap of Spielberg saying "my wife Kate Capshaw got me through this" to finish WEST SIDE STORY? There is a funny Spielberg joke on the interwebs as: "Who is married to Steven Spielberg and can identify all the crosswalks?" Kate Capcha... Get it? Okay, well Steven Spielberg has done so many speeches about his opus WEST SIDE STORY, no wonder he showed up from home... but he did say "No, I don't see myself ever doing another musical." Full Stop.

In homage to Spielberg "pre-recorded" after the promise to patrons of SBIFF for the in-person treatment, we have some Tweet shortcut coverage of the event, also a digital cheat, lol.

Visit SBIFF, which continues through March 21, for more details either virtually or for in-person tickets here.

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