ADL Stand Up Award goes to the feature film Liberté: A Call to Spy at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

DATE: January 8, 2020 … ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties announced today that it has awarded its ADL Stand Up Award at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival to the feature film Liberté: A Call to Spy.

Dan Meisel, ADL’s Regional Director issued the following statement:

The ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Region is pleased to present this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival ADL Stand Up Award to Liberté:  A Call to Spy, a dramatic portrayal of the true stories of the first women recruited and sent by the British military to occupied France with orders to disrupt the Nazi war machine.

The courageous heroism of soldiers risking their lives to counter the Nazis is not a new story.  It is new, at least for the big screen, that the heroes featured in Liberté are women, and it is certainly worth discussing why it has taken so long for their stories to be celebrated in this way.  What made these women truly remarkable, in addition to the challenges they had to overcome as “lady spies,” was the strength of their common conviction despite their varied identities and experiences.  The lead characters enter the frame in Liberté bound by how the world sees them — an American foreign servant with a disability, a Muslim pacifist of Indian heritage, and a Romanian Jew fearing deportation.  By the end of the story, their shared commitment to defend the human dignity of others supersedes any limiting labels, and their diversity proves critical to the success of their respective missions.

A jury of local ADL staff and supporters annually present the ADL Stand Up Award to a film in the festival that exemplifies the impact storytelling can have in fostering mutual understanding and respect, consistent with ADL’s mission “to secure justice and fair treatment for all.”  Given the recent and deeply troubling trend of rising hate and violence directed towards religious, racial, and ethnic minorities in the U.S. and around the world, ADL is proud to stand up with these filmmakers in highlighting the real-life heroism of standing up to fear-based aggression towards others solely on account of who they are.

Liberté: A Call to Spy is directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher, and stars Sarah Megan Thomas (“Equity”), who also wrote the screenplay and produced, Stana Katic (“Castle”), and Radhika Apte (“Andhadhun”).  More info about the film can be found on twitter @libertethemovie.

The festival’s U.S. premiere of Liberté will occur on January 16.  ADL is hosting a cocktail Soireé in honor of the Stand Up Award at 6:15pm in the Lobero Theater Courtyard, to be followed by the film’s premiere at 7:40pm in the Fiesta 5 Theater with a Q&A thereafter with Lydia Dean Pilcher and Sarah Megan Thomas.  Tickets to ADL’s Soireé (which include a confirmed seat at the 7:40pm screening) can only be purchased at or by calling 805-564-6670.  Limited general admission to the 7:40pm showing will be available for the festival pass or ticket holders.

The film is also screening at the Metro 2 Theater on Friday, January 17 at 2:20pm and Saturday, January 18 at 5:20pm for the festival pass or ticket holders.

This is the fifth year ADL has sponsored its Stand Up Award.  Previous winners explored the lives of a drag performer in Cuba (Viva, 2016), Polish migrant workers in Sweden (Strawberry Days, 2017), Syrian refugees seeking passage to Berlin (Sky and Ground, 2018), and a team of basketball players with disabilities (Campeones, 2019).\

This year’s Soireé is being sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.  For information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact ADL at 805-564-6670.

ADL, founded in 1913, is among the world’s leading organizations fighting bigotry, hatred, and discrimination.  Learn more at  ADL’s Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Office was established in 2001.  Follow it on twitter @ADLSantaBarbara.

(Source: SBIFF press release)

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