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Santa Barbara’s cultural landscape is dominated by its international film festival, which is underway through Feb. 10. Here’s the “skinny” on the fest, plus a couple of other options for this weekend. Download the app, pour over the schedule and get ticket information at

Big time

This festival has hit the big time, with big stars and a big program including more than 200 films from 58 countries. That’s a lot to choose among. Find one that intrigues you, then arrive early to get in line. It takes advance planning and patience to successfully snag a seat. Film tickets are sold in 10 Film MiniPaks ($150).

Stars being feted this year include Oscar nominees Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) on Friday and Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) on Sunday. The Virtuosos Awards on Saturday are given to two more: Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) and Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”), along with Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”), Hong Chau (Downsizing), John Boyega (“Detroit”), Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) and Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”).

Free screenings

Free screenings of family films are offered again this year (free popcorn, too!), including “Despicable Me 3" on Saturday, “Coco” on Sunday and “Boss Baby" on Feb. 10. All are at 10 a.m. at the Arlington.

The Arlington’s magnificent Wonder Morton pipe organ gets an outing on Sunday at 2 p.m. when Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 silent film “City Lights” screens. It's also free.

Insider tip: Festival films are also screened daily for free at the Lobero Theatre.

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Insider panels

Meet the pros behind the cameras at the industry panels held at the Lobero Theatre. Saturday has two: Movers and Shakers (commonly known as “producers”) is at 10 a.m., and Screenwriters at 1 p.m. The Women’s Panel is Sunday at 11 a.m. and includes women from throughout the industry. Panelists have not been announced, but often include current and former Oscar nominees and winners, and the talent behind some of today’s most acclaimed films.

Multimedia trek

Two brothers traveled 5,300 miles by foot and canoe from Anchorage, Alaska, to the Mexican border armed with only the bare essentials and two 35 mm cameras. Along the way, they captured the beautiful backcountry, complete with glaciers, raging rivers, mountain peaks, waist-high snowbanks, and bears. Fifteen hundred images comprise an hour-long multimedia event called “EarthWalk,” featuring nine projectors, three screens, original score and a narration by Orson Wells. Shown twice at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, at the Marjorie Luke Theatre (at Santa Barbara Junior High School, 721 E. Cota St.), tickets are $25 at the door, free for children 11 and under. (888-377-4510,

Quick tip: New works by State Street Ballet dancers debute at two “Evenings,” Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in an intimate studio setting at the Towbes Center for Dance, 2285 Las Positas Road. Tickets are $25 and include a drink ticket, appetizers, terrific choreography and spirited performances. (

Julia McHugh can be reached at