The world premiere of Emilio Estevez’s the public has been selected to open the Santa Barbara Film Festival, which kicks off January 31. Estevez wrote, directed and stars with Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Christian Slater, Taylor Schilling, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Gabrielle Union, Jacob Vargas, Michael K. Williams and Jeffrey Wright.

The film follows a group of homeless library patrons, who, after learning that emergency shelters are at capacity during a brutal Midwestern cold front, refuse to leave Cincinnati’s downtown public library at closing time. What begins as a nonviolent Occupy sit-in and ragtag act of civil disobedience quickly escalates into a stand-off with local riot police, a no-nonsense crisis negotiator, and a savvy DA with lofty political ambitions.

Check out the trailer above.

“I’ve long admired Emilio Estevez as an artist-actor-director,” said Roger Durling, executive director of the SBIFF. “With the public, I feel he has done his most personal and fully realized work. the public speaks wonderfully about our current divided country, but it also does not preach. It keeps us cinematically immersed.  I can honestly say this is the proudest choice for opening during my tenure at SBIFF. I cherish the friendship with Emilio and admire his accomplishment with the public.”

Said Estevez: “Roger’s long-standing commitment of supporting independent filmmakers makes the Santa Barbara International Film Festival a vital showcase for artists. Once again, the festival will screen a wide and wonderful variety of distinguished films and our picture has indeed, found itself in some lovely company.”

The 33rd anual SBIFF runs January 31-February 10.