CINEMA AND SUPPING: California is a leader in many ways, taking chances where chances should be taken and inventing things that people mostly need and filling in holes where gaps exists. This extends even to our leisure time and pleasurable pursuits, such as the film festival, an event we do rather well 'round these parts. (Rather well and rather often, we'll add.) Where many a film festival unreels around the world in the usual ways -- screenings, panels, repeat -- the Golden State has a few add-ons that are sure to inspire other organizers in unCalifornia parts of the globe. The main add-on we're seeing become a regular thing is the food and/or drink element of a food festival. Napa Valley does it with its autumntime cinema celebrations (makes total sense, of course, what with the wine and more wine) and Santa Barbara does it as well, and as famously, come winter. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival's eat-out partnership is called Film Feast, and it is set to tuck a napkin into its collar when the movies begin to flicker on Thursday, Jan. 24.
WHERE TO DINE: There are several participating cafes, tasting rooms, and restaurants in the four designated theater districts of the festival: Arlington Theatre District, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Metro 4 Theatre District, and the Lobero. Prix fixe menus, specials, and fun stuff'll be afoot at several American Riviera eateries. "Fun stuff" will play out in a lot of ways, but we're liking the idea that chefs at Bistro 1111 will ready an entree on a different-hued plate, at random, with the intention of presenting a ticket to the person who gets that special plate. There's a lot afoot, and atable as well, at Santa Barbara restaurants throughout the film fest. Might people even venture to the city during the Jan. 24-Feb. 3 run who only intend to dine? And not see a movie? That could happen with this rapidly growing companion fest.