I drove up to Santa Barbara this morning to attend a screening of Mike Cahill and Brit Marling‘s Another Earth, which opened on 7.22 to mostly positive reviews. I wrote on 7.19 that while “it’s partly a sci-fi fantasy about the approach of a second earth, it’s mainly about loss and recovery and redemption” and as such is one of the year’s most intriguing indies, particularly for its emotional, skillfully under-written quality.

At today’s lawn luncheon following 11 am Santa Barbara screening of Another Earth — (l. to r.) costar William Mapother, star-cowriter-co-producer Brit Marling, Santa Barbara Film Festival honcho Roger Durling, director-cowriter Mike Cahill.

The first thing I did when I slipped into the darkened Riviera Theatre during the 11 am showing was to take a nap. The floor was so hard it almost hurt to lie on my back but I went right out. I woke up for the q & a. Costar William Mapother, star-cowriter-coproducer Brit Marling and director-cowriter Mike Cahill kicked it around with Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling.

Then everyone went over to a nice outdoor garden party at a beautiful classic Spanish home, hosted by owners Marilyn Jorgenson and Errol Jahnke. Lots of nice food and not too many guests, and everyone in a nice mild mood. The back yard had fenced-in chickens and a dog who liked playing tug-of-war with a stick.

The sun was so hot that after an hour or so I began to slowly melt like the Wicked Witch of the West…”destroying my beautiful wickedness!” Plus I was wearing mostly black just like Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz so it all fit together. You don’t ever want to be standing in the hot sun with a slight wine buzz-on. It doesn’t feel right.

I spoke to Marling for a few minutes. I asked how many times she’d done the same dog-and-pony show with Cahill and Mapother since the Sundance debut six months ago. I wasn’t trying to trip her up by asking how bored she was getting from doing interviews, but simply how many times. Her answer — i.e., that she loves doing them and that today’s event was really special — told me she’s very political. Then she let her guard down and admitted there’s only one more to go…fine.

We spoke briefly about Nick Jarecki‘s Arbitrage, a financial chicanery drama in which she plays Richard Gere‘s daughter along with costars Eva Green and Susan Sarandon. It’s now being edited with a possibility of screening at Sundance 2012, Jarecki told me.

It’s very curious that Another Earth and Lars von Trier‘s Melancholia are so similar — both being about approaching planets getting closer and closer, but really about people with significant emotional and spiritual issues. And that these films were first seen at 2011 film festivals only four months apart. Cahill, Marling and Mapother all said they haven’t seen the Von Trier.

(l. to r.) Cahill, Marling and Durling during q & a at Riviera Theatre, which followed 11 am screening.