#SBIFF Virtuosos Award

(Credit: YTS Digital)

It was a busy night in Santa Barbara, as the 31st annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival feted its Virtuosos at the historical Arlington Theater.  Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, O’Shea Jackson, Jr, Géza Röhrig, Jacob Tremblay, and Alicia Vikander took to the stage for discussions with moderator Dave Karger and to be presented with their awards by Leonard Maltin.   

Joel Edgerton was regrettably unable to attend, but a taped interview with Karger played during his portion of the tribute evening, which was sponsored by Travel and Leisure.

With honoree ages ranging from nine to 48, the evening began with Elizabeth Banks, who told the audience that the LOVE AND MERCY script was one of only two scripts she has ever fallen in love with (the other was ZAC AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO) and the success of the first film as a director, PITCH PERFECT 2.  Paul Dano followed and talked about the three months of preparing he did with the music of The Beach Boys for LOVE AND MERCY.

After Joel Edgerton’s taped conversation played, O’Shea Jackson, Jr explained that it was his father’s idea that Jackson, Jr play him in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, not the other way around!  He discussed studying screenwriting at USC and how he needed to grow confidence to become an actor.  As the audience applauded at the end of his conversation, he exclaimed, ‘I feel like The Rock!’

Géza Röhrig spoke to Karger about how he had already been a musician, poet, and teacher, and joked that yes, he did expect to one day be sitting on a stage in Santa Barbara accepting an award for acting.  Before SON OF SAUL, Géza had only acted once before, 25 years ago in a Hungarian mini-series.  Next up, Jacob Tremblay charmed the crowd while describing the emotionally stressful ROOM.  ‘If you’re an adult or a mom you understand what’s happening, but if you’re a kid you’re like, ‘oh whatever’,’ he said about his viewing experience.

Last to the stage, but certainly not least, Alicia Vikander spoke about how her background in dance has helped her as an actress.  She mentioned in particular that it helped her with the physicality of her character in EX-MACHINA.  She also discussed the challenges of playing such a range of emotions in THE DANISH GIRL.

The fourth day of the festival began with a breakfast where filmmakers around the world bonded over bagels and coffee in the Lobero Courtyard.

The Lobero also played host to the esteemed writer’s and producer’s panels.  LA Times’ Glenn Whipp moderated a panel of producers from some of this year’s most buzzed about movies, Finola Dwyer (BROOKLYN), Ed Guiney (ROOM), Jeremy Kleiner (THE BIG SHORT), Steve Golin (SPOTLIGHT) and Mary Parent (THE REVENANT). The panel discussed what makes a good producer, “making it work” even under difficult circumstances, and diversity in filmmaking. On the latter, Mary Parent said “as a woman, I’m thrilled the conversation is happening”.

Festival goers were then treated to the “It Starts With the Script” Writers Panel.  IndieWIRE’s Anne Thompson led a conversation with some some of the year’s  top screenwriters including Pete Docter (INSIDE OUT), Emma Donoghue (ROOM), Alex Garland (EX MACHINA), Drew Goddard (THE MARTIAN), Jonathan Herman (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), Charlie Kaufman (ANAMOLISA), Phyllis Nagy (CAROL), Charles Randolph (THE BIG SHORT), and Josh Singer (SPOTLIGHT).  Audiences were captivated by the group’s discussion of  the process of giving life to a film, the challenges that arise on the journey to the big screen, and what it takes to succeed.

Throughout the day as well, SBIFF volunteers handed out free popcorn and soda to families and festival goers as they stormed the Arlington Theater to catch two of this past year’s biggest animated hits, INSIDE OUT and MINIONS, at the community AppleBox screenings. (Source: SBIFF Press Office)

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(Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson)

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