Posted by Larry Gleeson
The 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival has reached the halfway point and shows no signs of letting up.
Beginning with a local flavor, Opening Night featured Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy, from Mike’s wife, Mimi deGruy. Mike deGruy was legendary in his passion for life and his love of the ocean. Fortunately, Mimi shared his passion and love and constructed an emotionally moving call-to-action with Diving Deep setting the tone for this year’s festival.
With numerous sidebars, panels, forums, public screenings, children’s screenings and tributes, the Santa Barbara community is once again drawn together to celebrate community. Filmmaker Isaac Hernandez organized an opus on the spirit and energy of Santa Barbarans with Better Together. In a Q & A following his premiere screening, Hernandez unabashedly expressed, “I love Santa Barbara and I wanted to make a film about the place I love.”
Filmmakers from around the globe descended to the city of St. Barbara. First-time feature-length film director/writer Vanessa Filho came directly from Paris, France with her Angel Face featuring the Oscar-winning, French leading lady, Marion Cotillard, to premiere her work to the United States.
Ross Clarke ventured in from Norway to make a world premiere with The Bird Catcher, an early audience favorite, screening in the Nordic Film Sidebar. With Ross came an ensemble of cast members.
As predicted the Writer’s Panel sold out again this year. The Women’s Panel, the Producers Panel, the Variety Artisan Awards have all been conducted and completed. Anyone who missed these will have to wait until next year.
Tributes to Rami Malek, Viggo Mortensen, Glenn Close and Melissa McCarthy were all well-attended and audiences continue to wholeheartedly express their admiration and gratitude for the participants.
While many of the panels and tributes have been conducted, the SBIFF programming team, led by Professor Michael Albright, has put together an extraordinarily diverse cross-section of films from around the world. Shadow by Chinese master filmmaker, Zhang Yimou, had audiences oohing, aahing and wowing!
Stay tuned for the second half of this film festival extravaganza currently underway on the American Riviera in Santa Barbara, California.
Until next time. I’ll see you at the movies!
*Feature photo: right to left, SBIFF Programming Director, Michael Albright, with Diving Deep filmmaker Mimi deGruy, producer Shannon Dybvig and editor Brent Sumner. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)