That’s a Wrap! SBIFF 2018 Comes to a Warm Santa Barbara-Style Close

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 33rd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), sponsored by @UGG will long be remembered. After the tragic Montecito mudslide and the impact on the Greater Santa Barbara Community from the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in the recorded history of California, doubts abounded as to whether the 2018 festival would take place.

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Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Executive Director, Roger Durling, right, and SBIFF Board President, Lynda Weinman, speaking to television field reporter, Alys Martinez, on the SBIFF Closing Night red carpet, February 10th, 2018, at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Fortunately for the Santa Barbara community, SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling never had any doubts. Durling’s belief in the power of film to unify held true. Crowds lined the sidewalks outside the screening venues in downtown Santa Barbara. Cafes and restaurants were brimming with festival-goers, between films, clammering for a cup of coffee and a sweet or two. And inside, theatre seats and space in the multi-use venues, were at a premium. Each day a local non-profit organization was highlighted by the SBIFF staff before each event.

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Actor/Director Emilio Estevez on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Opening Night red carpet, January 31st, 2018, at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif.. Estevez’ film, ‘the public’ was tabbed as the festival’s Opening Night film. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

With the Opening Night Film, ‘the public,’ a tension-filled drama with several moments of comic relief, from Director/Actor Emilio Estevez, the festival was up and off to a fast start. Over the course of the next ten days more than 200 films from around the globe flashed and flickered across screens at the historic Arlington Theatre, The Lobero (California’s oldest, continuously operating theatre), the Metro 4, and the Fiesta 5 culminating in a Closing Night Film Program of Santa Barbara Documentary Shorts.

 

In addition, eleven Tributes and Panels were conducted including the wildly popular Writer’s Panel and the informative Producers Panel. Personally, I covered the American Riviera Award, the Cinema Vanguard Award, the Maltin Modern Master Award, the Outstanding Directors Award, Outstanding Performers of the Year Award, the Santa Barbara Award and the Virtuosos Award. Due to its ability to attract top talent and performers for its Tributes and Panels, SBIFF has become the place to be and be seen for the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar Competition. And, more importantly, in my opinion, is the insight gained from hearing top industry professionals share their experience.

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The Santa Barbara International Documentary Filmmaking Panel from left to right; Producer, Alfonso Guerrero (GET THE WEED),  Director, Denny Brechner (GET THE WEED),  Director Thomas Morgan (SOUFRA), Director Kum-Kum Bhavnani (WE ARE GALAPAGOS), Director Aube Giroux, (MODIFIED),  Director Chris Morgan (BEARTREK), Director Adam Weingrod (THE ISLAND) and Moderator Michael Albright. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Moreover, for the Greater Santa Barbara Community, SBIFF has also become an inclusive influence in a community known for its lengthy assimilation for non-Santa Barbarans. Monday through Friday, an open-to-the-public filmmaking series is offered featuring filmmakers who are screening their respective films at the festival. SBIFF’s Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, celebrating the life of Mike Degruy, offered a free kids film, Coco, at the Arlington with free popcorn and drinks distributed to kids and their parents. I made the Saturday morning screening. The Arlington was filled, including the balcony, with families utilizing available spaces to experience the film together. Additional free film screenings open to the public included Icarus, Despicable Me 3, City Lights, The Boss Baby, the 10-10-10 Student Competition films, and The Youth CineMedia short films. Youth CineMedia is a local Santa Barbara non-profit that teaches documentary filmmaking, focusing on issues of social justice, the environment and cultural issues. to diverse children from rural and urban communities.

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The 2018 10-10-10 Student Screenwriting and Filmmaking Mentorship and Competition participants at the Hotel California Alhambra Ballroom, January 30th, 2018, in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The 12th year of  The 10-10-10 Student Screenwriting and Filmmaking Mentorship and Competition saw all its teams deliver films in spite of the formidable challenges imposed by the Thomas Fire and the tragic Montecito mudslide. And, the Film Studies Program, “a three-day symposium open to all undergraduate students from around the United States. The program emphasizes film appreciation, criticism, and analysis. Lead by SBIFF sanctioned film educators…,” sponsored by SBIFF Board President, Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin, completed its second year.

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Uruguayan film, Get the Weed, makes it US Premiere at the 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) , sponsored by @UGG. Pictured from left to right; Get the Weed Lead Actress Talma Friedler, SBIFF Programming Director Michael Albright, and Get the Weed Director Denny Brechner. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

Forty-six and fifty-four are the number of films filmmakers chose to make their World Premieres and US Premieres, respectively, at SBIFF. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see all the films – a common lament at every film festival. Some of my favorites, however, were The Secret Ingredient, ‘the public,’ Off the Menu, The White Orchid, Grace and Splendor (Donaire y esplendor), Catch the Wind, Get the Weed, Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle, A Sniper’s War, Soviet Hippies, Before I Forget and the Closing Night Film Program of Santa Barbara Documentary Shorts. Other films receiving film-goer buzz were Husbands and Wives, The Unseen, In Love and In Hate (Los que aman, odian), Racer and the Jailbird, The Third Murder, The Insult, and Back to Burgundy.

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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival hosted its Award Breakfast to honor filmmakers at the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort’s Rodney Grill in Santa Barbara, Calif., February 10th, 2018. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Several competition categories garnered awards for films and filmmakers announced over an SBIFF Awards Breakfast to honor the filmmakers’ work with Skid Row Marathon taking home the Audience Choice Award winner.

Besides being an exceptional community festival, Santa Barbara is an international film festival quickly being recognized as an ideal international, premiering festival venue with its diverse sidebar categories, along with strong documentary and international competitions. If you haven’t been to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival yet, you’ll have to wait until next year. So, start making your plans now. and, if next year’s festival is even close to this year’s, you’ll be glad you did!

And, based on my experience, it will be…..

 

 

 

The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
SANTA BARBARA, CA – FEBRUARY 03: Actor Timothee Chalamet at the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Alison Buck/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
SANTA BARBARA, CA – FEBRUARY 03: Lisa Loiacono and actor Christopher Lloyd at the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Alison Buck/Getty Images for SBIFF)
The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
SANTA BARBARA, CA – FEBRUARY 03: Actor Daniel Kaluuya at the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)
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Actor John Boyega on the red carpet at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 3, 2018. Boyega was being honored as a Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso for his work on the film, Detroit. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

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Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
Emily Gordon, left, and Khumail Nanjiani on the red carpet at the historic Arlington Theatre February 3, 2018. Nanjiani was being honored as a Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso for his work on the film, The Big Sick. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
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Mary J. Blige on the red carpet at the historic Arlington Theatre February 3, 2018. Blige was being honored as a Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos for her work on the film, Mudbound. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

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Until next year…I’ll see you at the movies!

*Featured photo – The Out of the Ashes Producing Team. Pictured from left to right; Habib Habibi, Rose Ettleson, Kevin Willefert, Hallie Brown and Zac Main on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Closing Night Red Carpet, February 10th, 2018 at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

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