It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that Cincinnati took over the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for the World Premiere of the Cincinnati-shot feature, “the public,” written and directed by, and starring, Emilio Estevez.


More than 50 friends and supporters of Film Cincinnati, along with cast and crew who worked on “the public,” came to the Santa Barbara Film Festival for the January 31 premiere that kicked off the 33rd annual SBIFF.


“Santa Barbara is just the latest film festival to showcase Cincinnati-made films,” said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati. “Following Cannes, Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival, Santa Barbara gives us the chance to show movie makers and producers how Film Cincinnati can help them make world-class feature films.”


A full house of more than 2,000 watched the film, which features Estevez as an administrator at the downtown public library in Cincinnati. During an unusually cold winter blast, the homeless who stay in the library during the day refuse to leave at closing time because the shelters are at capacity.


There are plenty of scenes to remind Cincinnatians of their city, from the polar bear in the library to downtown panoramas to LaRosa’s pizza boxes. Remarks about Indian Hill and Mt. Adams will bring a chuckle to those who get the insider references.


But the story itself is a serious one, and it’s one that public spaces deal with every day: How to serve the underserved population while following the building’s, and the city’s, rules. Estevez deals with the debate with compassion and empathy, while leaving the door open for the viewer to consider what the next steps should be for our society.


In the movies, Cincinnati often fills in as 1950s New York or 1970s suburbia. In “the public,” Cincinnati gets to play itself. And in this role, Cincinnati shines.