Category Archives: Santa Barbara International Film Festival

REVIEW: IN LOVE AND WAR (Torsting, 2018): Denmark

Posted by Larry Gleeson

In Love and War Takes Audience Award and Captures Nordic Cinema Competition at Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.23.06 AMIn Love and War, from Director Kasper Torsting and Producer Ronnie Fridthjof, who co-wrote the screenplay together about a soldier in Denmark who returns home after three years of fighting on the front lines in WWI, harks back to Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg’s Dogme 95, a film movement orchestrated to compete with Hollywood’s domination of the industry. Dogme 95 focused filmmakers on story, acting and theme and away from special effects and “MTV style editing.” Torsting and Fridthjof’s efforts seem to have brought von Trier and Vinterberg’s vision to fruition with In Love and War, winner of the coveted Audience Award for the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival as well as winner of the strong-fielded Nordic Cinema Competition.

The mise-en-scene and production design are at once gorgeous and stunning in this character-driven story that unfolds in dramatic fashion as lead character, Ebsen, portrayed by Sebastian Jessen, after already serving a three-year stint refuses to return to the front in order to renew and rebuild his family life. Consequently, Ebsen’s refusal forces him into hiding and to watch as a German Army officer, Gerhard, portrayed by Tom Wlaschiha, woos Ebsen’s wife, Kirstine, portrayed by Rosalinde Mynster, while winning the affection and admiration of Ebsen’s young son, Carl, portrayed by Axel Homann.

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Interestingly enough, this is the first Danish film to address the German occupation of southern Denmark during WWI. Many of the Germans stayed in the area after the war and started families living side-by-side their Danish comrades. And, according to Director Torsting, it’s a part of Danish history that is washed over and hasn’t been addressed until now. Torsting made the film in an attempt to enlighten the present generation of a largely forgotten past.

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With a painter’s touch, In Love and War’s cinematographer, Jesper Toffner, paints a remarkable canvas of landscape scenes coupled with period costuming that invites and encapsulates the viewer into the world of Ebsen and his quadrapalegic battle-buddy, Jes, portrayed by Morten Brovn, as both men try to not only survive but to hold on to their sense of self while everyone and everything around them is changing due to the formidable German influence.

Much more than an historical treatment, In Love and War digs into the human condition and what men and women do when faced with the difficult choices the cruelty of war posits onto the less fortunate. In addition, the film is in two languages, German and Danish, with English subtitles. Featuring stellar acting from the cast, including Ulrich Thomsen, Thurle Lindhardt, with Natalie Madueno and a driving musical score from Robin Hoffman that heightens the film’s suspense as Ebsen reaches the moment that will decide his fate and the fate of his family.

In Love and War is a highly compelling, emotionally moving film with a run time of 135 minutes and made its North American Premiere at the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG.

Highly recommended.

 

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Santa Barbara Wraps 34th Edition of Its International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) presented by UGG has come and gone. With its many tributes, panels, forums, educational and free community programs, and films, this year’s festival offered a little something for everyone.

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Lynda Weinman, left, and Mimi deGruy attend the Opening Night Gala during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Paseo Nuevo on January 31, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

The festival opened with one of the most emotionally riveting first night films in recent memory as SBIFF Board member, Mimi deGruy, unveiled her film Deep Diving: The Life and Time s of Mike deGruy featuring her deceased husband’s treasure trove of underwater footage as well as delving into his passion and activism for the dark ocean water and its inhabitants.

Without missing a beat, the Breakfast Club (the nickname given by SBIFF Director Roger Durling for the first movies of the day starting at 8:00 AM) kicked off with The Biggest Little Farm, a beautifully constructed documentary that follows a young couple, John Chester, a writer and filmmaker, and his wife, Molly, a culinary writer, as they make the transition from urbanites to traditional farmers. The Biggest Little Farm was one of the festival darlings.

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Birds of Passage

A personal favorite film of mine this year was the tragic, genre-bending Birds of Passage, a cartel film on the Northern Colombian Wayuu tribes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Filmmakers Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra weave together a tapestry of cultural artifacts with a Shakespearean-style delivery that accentuates the early beginnings of cartel life.

Yet, one of the most mesmerizing aspects of the festival was contained in the Nordic Cinema Sidebar. Harking back to Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg’s Dogme 95, a film movement orchestrated to compete with Hollywood’s domination of the industry, that focused filmmakers on story, acting and theme and away from special effects and “MTV style editing.” Their efforts seem to have come to fruition with In Love and War, winner of the coveted Audience Award for this year as well as winner of the formidable Nordic Cinema Competition.

First-time, feature-length,  movie-maker/director, Vanessa Filho traveled in from Paris, France, with her deep, introspective work, Angel Face, featuring Marion Cotillard. A delightful presence at this year’s festival, Filho also participated in the Women Directors Forum, in addition to walking the red carpet at the Outstanding Performer of the Year tribute. I had the good fortune to sit with Filho in the Hotel Santa Barbara’s Garden Room shortly after her arrival for a brief interview.

Unfortunately, the one that got away, A Seed for Change, from one-man production team, Alexandros Ikonomidis, was a film about his experience in dealing with the financial crisis of 2008 and its life-altering, economic fallout. Due to pressing circumstances I could not attend screenings for this selection. However, I did communicate with Ikonomidis, albeit too late to see his film and its overriding themes of self-sufficiency and survival.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Outstanding Performer Award Honoring Rami Malek
Rami Malek speaks onstage at the Outstanding Performer Award tribute during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

In addition to the traditional Opening Night and Closing Night Films, SBIFF has loaded several tributes into its Phase 2 Oscar cannon. This year had Rami Malek as its Outstanding Performer of the Year recognizing his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek is sweeping award ceremonies thus far and continues to be the front-runner for a Best Actor Oscar from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science later this month. We shall see!

Next year’s dates have been announced for January 15 -25, 2020, along with all festival award winners.

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

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Announces 2020 Dates + 2019 Awards

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, will return for the 35th edition January 15 – 25, 2020. 200+ Films featuring over 120 World and US premieres, Industry Panels, Celebrity Tributes, and Educational and Free Community Programs will be held throughout Santa Barbara, including the Arlington and Lobero Theatres.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479“We’re so grateful to all of our honorees, filmmakers, attendees, sponsors, press and volunteers for making the 34th edition our best yet. We’re adjusting our dates and we’re already looking forward to celebrating our 35th anniversary! – SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

Also announced today were the award winning films for the 34th Festival at a breakfast held in their honor at Belmond El Encanto. All awards were announced, culminating in the coveted Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, which went to Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed). The films were chosen by jury members Anthony and Arnette Zerbe, David and Sandy Wasco, Joe Medjuck, Katharine O’Brien, Leslie Zemeckis, Margaret Lazarus, Olivia Hamilton, Paul Brickman, Roger Avary, and Tamara Asseyev.

Congratulations to ALL the Winners:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed)Best Documentary Short Film Award: Leslie Iwerks’s Selling Lies
Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live Action Short Film: Christopher Wollebekk’s My Brother Amal (Min bror Amal)
Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: Rachel Johnson’s Henrietta Bulkowski
Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International: Johnny Sweet’s Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story
Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: Bettina Oberli’s With the Wind (Le vent tourne)
Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: Sam Friedlander’s Babysplitters
Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: Celia Rico Clavellino’s Journey to a Mother’s Room (Viaje al cuarto de una madre)
Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed)
ADL Stand Up Award: Javier Fesser’s Champions (Campeones)
Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei’s Laila at the Bridge

Three awards were handed out for short films. The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Christopher Wollebekk’s My Brother Amal (Min bror Amal). The Jury remarked “My Brother Amal displayed shining performances, brilliant directing and quite simply – it made us feel.“ The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film went to Rachel Johnson’s Henrietta Bulkowski. The Jury awarded the film “for it’s inventive story, craft and heart – it is a film that sticks in your mind long after you see it.“ Best Documentary Short Film was awarded to Leslie Iwerks’s Selling Lies. The Jury called the film “eye opening and chilling, Selling Lies clarified, disturbed and shifted our perspective.”

Sponsored by SEE International, the Best Documentary Film Award went to Johnny Sweet’s Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story. The jury remarked that “The power of this Doc cannot be denied, a testament to it’s subject and all involved. The gathering of top notch Interviewees and historical footage, the editing, camera, sound, all make for perfectly paced and gripping film.”Bettina Oberli’s With the Wind (Le vent tourne) is the recipient of the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for Best International Film. The Jury remarked that “With extraordinary moments of natural life beautifully captured, and equal portions dystopic nightmare, director Bettina Oberli’s eulogy for luddite optimism acknowledges that only part of us is sane and wanting for creation, while simultaneously exists an opposing primal need to burn one’s own house down until the foundations are blackened.”

Sam Friedlander’s Babysplitters took home the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema. The Jury remarked that “Babysplitters was presented to the festival as a work in progress. Even so, we appreciated the strong comic timing, the good heart, and a  slew of laugh-out-loud moments.  With some editorial discipline, this has the potential to become a true comic treat.”

The Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema went to Celia Rico Clavellino’s Journey to a Mother’s Room (Viaje al cuarto de una madre). The Jury remarked that the film “A very delicately composed film. Beguilingly simple in it’s reach yet totally engrossing. Beautiful to look at, beautifully acted.”

The Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film was awarded to Kasper Torsting ‘s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed). The Jury remarked that the film “Intricate tale of the anguish of war. Totally unpredictable, highly original. Amazing Photography, editing and acting.”

Sponsored by Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties ADL, The ADL Stand Up Award went to Javier Fesser’s Champions (Campeones). “Campeones champions the value of inclusion, which is a touchstone of ADL’s worldwide effort to embrace diversity, to foster mutual respect, and to fight hate,” said Regional Director, Cyndi Silverman. “This is also a film about community,” she continued, “and we are thrilled for our community to see it.”

The Social Justice Award for Documentary Film went to Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei’s Laila at the Bridge. The jury remarked that “The filmmaker’s access to life and death events that unfolded right in front of our eyes, the personal force and dynamism of Laila fighting the powers that control money and drugs in Afghanistan on behalf of the addicts kept us riveted. Laila’s openness and deep understanding of addiction combined with the horror of the police keeping the addicts under a bridge and letting them die there was astounding.”

The Audience Choice Award sponsored by the Santa Barbara Independent went to Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed). 1917: A Danish soldier fighting under the German regime fakes his own death to escape the horrors in the trenches and return to his wife and son—only to find that everything has changed.

ABOUT THE SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 33 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

Sponsors of the 34th SBIFF include: UGG®, Toyota Mirai, Belvedere Vodka, City of Santa Barbara, Amazon Studios,  ADL, Montecito Bank & Trust, IMDbPro, Union Bank, Driscoll’s, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, Bentson Foundation, SEE International, Manitou Fund, Patagonia, Winchester Mystery House, Netflix, Mary Beth Riordan, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Volentine Family Foundation, and many more supporting through trade.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day.

MICHAEL B. JORDAN TO RECEIVE CINEMA VANGUARD AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Cinema Vanguard Award
honoring
Michael B. Jordan

Thursday, February 7, 2019
8:00pm
Arlington Theatre

Michael B. Jordan is set to receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Cinema Vanguard Award for his work in two of the year’s critically acclaimed, culturally significant and record-breaking box office hits, Marvel’s Black Panther and Annapurna’s Creed II. Jordan will be honored Thursday, February 7th, 2019, at the historic Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, CA.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479“It’s thrilling to honor Michael B. Jordan this year for the emboldened way he’s shown us what it means to be a movie star for the 21st century – mixing sensitivity with swagger, choosing important material that remains full of integrity yet become world phenomenon, and forging a cinematic partnership with visionary director Ryan Coogler,” says Roger Durling, Executive Director, Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Jordan first garnered industry-wide attention for his breakout role in Fruitvale Station, his first collaboration with Ryan Coogler. In 2016, Jordan launched his own production company, Outlier Society Productions, with a multiyear first-look deal with Skydance Media. In 2018, Jordan returned to the silver screen as the tormented and revenge driven Erik Kilmonger in Marvel and Disney’s Black Panther which ignited a cultural movement and went on to become the 9th highest growing film of all time at $1.3 Billion among other accolades. Additionally, Jordan got back into the producer’s seat for the highly anticipated sequel Creed II, which broke the box-office record for highest grossing Thanksgiving opening, where he also returned to his starring role as Adonis Creed. Earlier this year, Jordan was also instrumental in implementing a broad diversity and inclusion policy which has been adapted by Warner Media for all productions from HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner.

The Cinema Vanguard Award recognizes actors who have forged their own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film. Previous honorees include William DeFoe, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jean Dujardin, Bernice Bejo, Nicole Kidman, Peter Sarsgaard, Christoph Waltz, Vera Farmiga, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stanley Tucci and Ryan Gosling.

Tickets Here

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Virtuosos Award and more in Santa Barbara #SBIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Virtuosos Award presented to Sam Elliott, Claire Foy, John David Washington, and more

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (February 6, 2019) – The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) continued its tribute series with the presentation of the Virtuosos Award presented by Ugg, which recognizes a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue.

This year’s honorees included: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) Sam Elliott (A Star is Born), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) Claire Foy (First Man), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and Steven Yeun (Burning).

Prior to being presented with their awards, each honoree engaged in a one-on-one discussion with Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger. The one-on-one discussions were followed by a panel discussion, also moderated by Karger.

 

The evening was full of warmth and laughter and the the utmost appreciation for legend Elliott, who received a standing ovation upon taking the stage.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Sam Elliot walks across stage to a standing ovation for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

The most memorable moment of the evening took place during the full panel when Karger asked each honoree to name an actor with whom they feel they would have an amazing rapport. Washington immediately responded with “Beyoncé,” put down the microphone, and pretended to walk away. The entire panel and audience broke out into laughter. After a few moments of contemplation, Yeun, Grant, Foy, Fisher, and McKenzie decided to give the same answer as Washington. Elliott, however, continued to hold out and when he gave his answer it caught everyone by surprise. “I’d like to work with Claire Foy,” he finally said. The audience cheered and applauded and Foy exclaimed with a smile, “Good god. Oh my god. I actually think I’m blushing.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Christopher Lloyd onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)
Actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award.

Additional highlights from the evening include:

Steven Yeun on the ambiguity of Burning:

When asked about people’s reactions to the film – particularly the ending, which is very ambiguous – Yeun told Karger: “To me Director Lee’s films have always been a way of reflecting the world back at the viewer. I think what we were all trying to go for was an openness…to tell you a story that you kind of direct, that you impose what these people are and what they did.”

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Steven Yeun speaks onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

John David Washington on how he came to work with Spike Lee:

Washington recounted how Spike reached out to him with the project out of the blue. “It was almost like we were working already,” he mused. “I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize, and it read, ‘Yo this Spike. Call me.’”

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie on acting:

McKenzie spoke at length about acting as a profession, which included noting how: “It’s not just putting on a performance; it’s not faking; it’s being; it’s sharing true emotions; and it’s an opportunity to make a difference and to tell really important stories.”

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
John David Washington, left, and Thomasin McKenzie speak onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Richard E. Grant on working with Melissa McCarthy:

Grant said it took “3.5 nanoseconds” for him to know that working with Melissa McCarthy would be great. “We met on a Friday, two years ago in New York in January, and we had two hours together to talk through the scenes in the movie,” he recalled. “I asked her if she was a method actress and she said no; and she said, are you a method actor, and I said no. So we started talking about wigs, and teeth, and costumes, and where our characters lived, and grew up, and what their sex lives were, and then we’re off and running.” He joked: “We started shooting on a Monday and she’s have my twins in August.”

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Richard E. Grant speaks onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Claire Foy (First Man) on channeling emotion while acting:

“I feel that I never want to cheapen someone’s real life experience,” she told Karger. Instead of thinking back to a moment in her own life in order to channel a particular type of emotion into a scene, Foy asserted: “I find it moving enough or heartbreaking enough to just think about what someone was going through.”

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Claire Foy speaks onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) on eighth grade vs tenth grade:

Fisher filmed Eighth Grade immediately following her actual eighth grade year in school. She is now in tenth grade and when asked what a film about tenth grade might look like, she contemplated: “Eighth grade is kind of just chaos – it’s like war. But tenth grade is like two summers after the war, where you can still have PTSD from it but you’re a little cooler now.”

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Elsie Fisher speaks onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) on realizing the scope of his role in the final version of the film:

Elliott didn’t realize how substantial his role was in the film until he saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Prior to the screening in Toronto, he had seen a second assembly where, in his own words, “the relationship between Stefani and Bradley was fully blown, the music was fully developed, but the supporting cast really had gotten hit hard in the edit.” Upon seeing the film in Toronto, Elliott recalled: “That was one of the things that got me. Oh, I really am in this movie.”

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival -Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG
Sam Elliot speaks onstage for the Virtuosos Award Presented By UGG during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Stay tuned for more on the hottist ticket in town, the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Until then…..I’ll see you at the movies!

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(Sourced from sbiff.org press release)

Day 4 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) continued with the annual Producers and Writers Panels, as well as a special tribute to actor Viggo Mortensen.

Heavy rain throughout Santa Barbara County impacted traffic conditions and ultimately resulted in some changes to the scheduled programming, but the show still went on.

Moderated by Glenn Whipp from the Los Angeles Times, the Producers Panel featured Jim Burke (“Green Book”), Bill Gerber (“A Star is Born”), and Raymond Mansfield (“BlacKkKlansman”) as panelists. Discussion topics included what it takes to be a producer, saying “no,” awards season, the Academy’s popular film award, diversity, and advice for aspiring producers.

Next up, Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”), Kevin Willmott (“BlacKkKlansman”), and Will Fetters (“A Star is Born) participated in the Writers Panel, which was moderated by Anne Thompson from Indiewire. Over the course of the conversation, Schrader, Willmott, and Fetters covered a wide range of topics including their path to becoming a screenwriter, writing the most difficult scene in their respective films, endings, best work practices, the state of the industry, and upcoming projects.

The tribute for Mortensen consisted of an in-depth career retrospective discussion with Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond, and concluded with Mortensen’s longtime friend and collaborator Ed Harris presenting the actor with the American Rivera Award.

During his introductory remarks for the tribute, SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling thanked Santa Barbara Aviation and owner/pilot Max Rosenberg for their help getting Mortensen and Harris to the event, as the road closures would have most likely prevented them from getting into Santa Barbara via traditional routes.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - American Riviera Award Honoring Viggo Mortensen

 Upon taking the stage, Mortensen was greeted with a standing ovation and he immediately thanked the audience for their patience.

Some highlights from the conversation that followed include:

  • Mortensen on his love for soccer:

    • Note: During his introduction, Pete Hammond recounted an amusing anecdote of how he moderated what turned out to be a “beautiful Q&A” with Mortensen — all while Mortensen watched a soccer game on a laptop that he brought with him onstage.

    • “I find it dramatic.”

    • “I like seeing how people behave when things go well and things go badly. How do people behave when they win? How do people behave when they lose? That is inherently dramatic to me. How do you overcome a deficit, and if you don’t, are you a good loser or are you a good winner?”

  • Mortensen on how he decided to become an actor:

    • He came to the realization “relatively late” — when he was 21/22.

    • He started educating himself about cinema by going to revival movie houses where they would show films by Ozu, Bresson, Dryer, Bergman, etc..

    • In the process he came across quite a few “spellbinding performances” (i.e. “that transported me”) and that made him consider: “I just wondered what the trick was — how do these actors makes me feel that that is so real?”

  • Mortensen on the early days of his acting career:

    • He recounted how he was cut out of films like Woody Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo” and Jonathan Demme’s “Swing Shift,” before he finally appeared in “Witness.”

    • “After some decades you look back and there seems to be some kind of order to your life, right? I would say that I was lucky that I did lots of small parts in plays, TV, movies, and many hundreds of auditions where you get close but you don’t get the part. But you’re practicing. You’re practicing all the time. You’re practicing working with different people each time, and you’re learning what is probably the two most important things I think for an actor, which is to be flexible — to deal with all kinds of personalities and requirements and obstacles — and to listen, to pay attention — because the only way you’re going to be flexible really is well, what is coming my way now, I can’t do the same thing every time.”

  • Mortensen on working with great directors:

    • “I always look at the script first.”

    • “It’s story, the role, and then who is directing. If I don’t get past the first two then it doesn’t matter who is directing.”

  • Mortensen on David Cronenberg:

    • Note: During this part of the conversation, Hammond referred to Mortensen as Cronenberg’s muse during this part of the conversation.

    • “ I just felt like I was in sync with him from the first day of ‘History of Violence.’”

    • “It’s astounding to me that David Cronenberg, in nearly half-a-century of making movies — he’s probably made, I would say conservatively, at least 8 movies that could, and should have easily been nominated for an Academy Award.”

  • Mortensen on the “Lord of the Rings” films and fans:

    • He believes that the LOTR films opened the door for him to do films like “A History of Violence” and “Appaloosa”

    • “It’s wonderful when anybody relates to your work or to the story you’re in because that is essentially why I got into it. I was relating in that way to what I was watching. I was fascinated with it and curious and you do get really good questions from people.”

    • He also related a fun anecdote about how he broke his tooth while filming the 2nd installment (“The Two Towers”) and then went into town (dressed in his costume) to get his tooth fixed by Peter Jackson’s dentist.

    • The extended version of the first film is Mortensen’s favorite of the three because it involved the most human to human contact (not as much CG as the later films), and it was the closest to Tolkien’s actual words.

    • Mortensen on fight choreographer Bob Anderson:

      • Note: During this part of the conversation, Hammond said that Bob Anderson remarked that Mortensen was “without a doubt one of the best he had ever seen” when it came to sword work.

      • He got to work with Anderson on the LOTR films and “Alatriste.”

      • He shared an anecdote where Bob Anderson managed to best a very skilled fencer without much effort. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

    • Mortensen on “The Road”:

      • “I just loved the book and that’s why I wanted to do it.”

      • “It’s not that far-fetched that movie. Every year it’s less far-fetched unfortunately.”

      • He reference climate change as one of the reasons why the premise of “The Road” is not that far-fetched.

      • “It’s very moving and I like characters that are tested.”

      • He shared an anecdote about how he helped convince Coca Cola to allow the production to use a can in a key scene. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

    • Mortensen on acting:

      • “The foundation of good acting is good reacting.”

      • He said the reasons that the scenes in “Green Book” are so funny is because of how Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) reacts.

      • “I’ve had so many good opportunities. I’ve been in so many good stories. Sue me if I complain about anything.”

    • Mortensen on “Green Book”:

      • He praised Peter Farrelly’s direction, saying that the film places Farrelly in the same league as Preston Sturges, Frank Capra, and Bill Wilder.

      • He remarked that one of the best results of the film has been that it has helped people discover/re-discover the music of Don Shirley.

    • Harris on Mortenesen:

      • He recounted how Appaloosa came together and Viggo’s involvement. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

      • “Viggo Mortensen is a man of his word. I don’t think you can pay someone a much higher tribute.”

      • “He’s a consummate pro, an incredibly talented actor, one hell of a human being, and my friend.”

 

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MELISSA MCCARTHY TO RECEIVE MONTECITO AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy

February 3, 2019
8:00PM
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

TICKETS HERE

Melissa McCarthy will receive the prestigious Montecito Award at the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. McCarthy will be feted for her starring role in the critically acclaimed feature Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a Fox Searchlight Pictures release. Given to a person in the entertainment industry who has made a great contribution to film, the award will be presented to her at a ceremony on Sunday, February 3, 2019 at the historic Arlington Theatre.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479“Melissa McCarthy – always a compelling talent – triumphs as Lee Israel in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME,” says SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. “She’s funny, dark, caustic and oh so vulnerable. SBIFF is so pleased to be able to award this performance and her career so far.”

McCarthy is currently starring in the acclaimed film Can you Ever Forgive Me? in a dramatic breakout performance. Her upcoming feature films are the comedy Superintelligence directed by Ben Falcone and the drama The Kitchen alongside Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish. Her previous film work includes The Boss, Spy, St. Vincent, Life of the Party, Tammy, The Heat, Identity Thief, This is 40, and Ghostbusters. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Bridesmaids, along with BAFTA and Critics Choice Award nominations, and won the MTV Award for Best Comedic Performance. McCarthy’s television credits include the beloved character ‘Sookie St. James’ in the critically acclaimed series Gilmore Girls. She went on to star in Mike and Molly, for which she won a Lead Actress Comedy Emmy Award, and in 2017 she won a Guest Actress Comedy Emmy Award for her Saturday Night Live portrayal of then Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Past recipients of the award include Saoirse Ronan, Isabelle Huppert, Sylvester Stallone, Daniel Day Lewis, Julianne Moore, Javier Bardem among others and this year the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will be back for its 34th year honoring Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner) with the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film and celebrating Glenn Close (The Wife) with the Maltin Modern Master Award.

The 34th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will run through Saturday, February 9th.
 

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GLENN CLOSE TO RECEIVE MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Maltin Modern Master Award honoring Glenn Close

Sunday, February 3, 2019
3:00PM
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

 

Glenn Close is set to receive the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award at the 34th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  Close will be honored this afternoon, at 3:00 PM, February 3rd, for her longstanding contributions to the film industry, most recently gracing the silver screen in Sony Pictures Classics’ The Wife. Leonard Maltin will return for his 28th year to moderate the evening.

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Glenn Close is one of the great actresses of our time. Versatility is her hallmark, and there is clearly nothing she can’t do. She became a star with her first feature film, The World According to Garp, and has gone on to play everyone from Cruella de Vil to aging silent-film star Norma Desmond in the stage musical of Sunset Blvd. I can’t wait to spend an evening with her onstage at the Arlington Theater,” states Maltin.

Directed by Berlin Silver Bear-winner Björn Runge, The Wife is adapted by Jane Anderson from the Meg Wolitzer novel of the same name.  After nearly forty years of marriage, JOAN and JOE CASTLEMAN (Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce) are complements: Where Joe is brash, Joan is shy. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. Where Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as Great American Novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm, and diplomacy into the private role of Great Man’s Wife, keeping the household running smoothly, the adult children in close contact, and Joe’s pills dispensed on schedule. At times, a restless discontentment can be glimpsed beneath Joan’s smoothly decorous surface, but her natural dignity and keen sense of humor carry her through the rough spots. The Wife debuted in theaters this summer.

The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF.  Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin.  Past recipients include Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.

The 34th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will run through Saturday, February 9th.

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VIGGO MORTENSON TO RECEIVE AMERICAN RIVIERA AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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American Riviera Award
honoring
Viggo Mortenson

Saturday, February 2, 2019
3:00pm
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

 

 

Viggo Mortenson is set to receive the illustrious American Riviera Award on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019.  Mortenson will be recognized for his many attributes to the art of film over the years, and most recently, his work in Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures’ Green Book.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479“Viggo is one of the steadiest acting forces in cinema and one of its greatest chameleons,” says Santa Barbara International Film Festival Executive Director, Roger Durling. “As Tony Lip in Green Book, he delivers the capstone to his remarkable career. He encapsulates the American Riviera Award. We greatly admire and love him.”

Directed by Peter Farrelly and set against the backdrop of a country grappling with the valor and volatility of the Civil Rights Movement, the film is inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line. When Frank Anthony Vallelonga, aka Tony Lip (Mortensen), a New York City bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in The Bronx, is hired to drive and protect Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on The Green Book — a travel guide to safe lodging, dining and business options for African Americans during the era of segregation and Jim Crow laws — to steer them to places where Shirley will not be refused service, humiliated, or threatened with violence.

The American Riviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Mortenson will join the list of previous recipients which includes Sam Rockwell, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Tommy Lee Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane.

Tickets Here

Santa Barbara Honors Rami Malek

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Rami Malek Receives Outstanding Performer of the Year for his work as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

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Rami Malek arrived in Santa Barbara amidst a light rain making his way to a busy red carpet and getting under cover.

The uber-talented Malek, gracious and eloquent, posed for pictures and brief interviews before taking the stage with The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California, last night, February 1st.

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Rami Malek, left, and moderator Scott Feinberg, enjoy a moment onstage during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Outstanding Performer of the Year Tribute at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

In what might have been Feinberg’s best tribute conversation, The Hollywood Reporter Awards Columnist, showed his knowledge of Malek’s work and personal life while gently nudging Malek. Slowly, Malek began to open up and the enthusiastic crowd warmed up with more than one female voice calling out their love for the honoree.

Malek continued his steady composure sharing his experience in his auditions and with his directors with humor and a steadfast commitment to his craft. After watching several clips and the audience hanging on every Malek word, Feinberg addressed “the elephant in the room,” which turned out to be the firing of Bryan Singer as Director of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Out of his respect and admiration for Freddie Mercury and the band, Queen, Malek preferred to keep the attention and focus on them.

Malek accepted the award presented by friend and actor Joseph Mazzello. Malek seemed a little pensive afterwards as he thanked the audience and exited stage right with Mazzello. Seems as though we haven’t heard the last from Rami Malek….

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