Sometime this afternoon (and hopefully before 3 pm), Hollywood Elsewhere will be driving up to the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The festival is operating under some spiritual duress, as recent trade stories have made clear.

There’s been much hand-wringing over the recent Montecito mudslide tragedy, which has caused the Four Seasons Biltmore to close until April 1st. No debris is littering Santa Barbara’s State Street, but the mantra of SBIFF director Roger Durling has been “never say die,” “let’s stand together” and “sticks and stones may break our bones, but mudslides will only make us stand taller.” Or something like that.

Actual Durling quote: “People want to be together and the festival is a way to do that. It was essential for us to get our act together.”

All I know is that the Montecito region of the 101 freeway has been open for about ten days now. I’ll probably encounter delays, but perhaps not hellish delays. Update: I couldn’t get it together in time. Driving up tomorrow morning.

I can’t honestly say I’m humming with excitement over the opening-night film, Emilio Estevez’s The Public. It’s about a non-violent Occupy sit-in at a Cincinnati public library during a particularly cold winter. This sounds selfish and small, I realize, but I’m feeling too depressed these days to settle into a film about homeless folk. No offense.

Boilerplate: “What begins as a nonviolent Occupy sit-in and ragtag act of civil disobedience quickly escalates into a standoff with local riot police, led by a no-nonsense crisis negotiator (Alec Baldwin) and a savvy district attorney (Christian Slater) with lofty political ambitions, all as two librarians (Estevez, Jena Malone) are caught in the middle of it.”

The next Hollywood Elsewhere post will come from the sprawling Fess Parker hotel & resort.