Executive director Roger Durling says he never once considered delaying or cancelling this year’s festival when one disaster after another pummeled the area: Not when ash from the massive Thomas Fire was raining down from the Santa Barbara sky in December and not when deadly mudslides closed the 101 Freeway in the region for almost two weeks leading up to the festival, complicating logistics for an event that has become an important part of the Hollywood awards season calendar.
If anything, Durling says, the disasters strengthened his resolve to proceed as planned.
“There was no hesitancy,” he says. “I understood from a very early age the power of cinema. People want to be together and the festival is a way to do that. It was essential for us to get our act together.”
While the downtown