Category Archives: Santa Barbara International Film Festival

SBIFF The Showcase – The Battle of Algiers

NEW RESTORATION OF THE 1967 ITALIAN FILM MASTERPIECE!

THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS
Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
Written by Franco Solinas, Gillo Pontecorvo
Starring Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef
Country of Origin: Algeria/Italy
Running Time: 123 min
Subtitled

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New restoration of one of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers (1966), vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today.

 Here’s what other leading critics are saying:

“ASTONISHING! A political thriller of unmatched realism!”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A GREAT FILM…Everything about this film says it’s real, it’s happening now, it’s important.”
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“PULSES WITH ENERGY! As urgent, intense, prescient as ever!”
Ann Hornady, The Washington Post

Screening:
Sunday October 23 @ 2:00pm
Monday October 24 @ 7:30pm
Tuesday October 25 @ 5:00pm
Wednesday October 26 @ 7:30pm
at the Riviera Theatre
2044 Alameda Padre Serra

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See you at the movies!

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(Source:sbiff.org release)

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Note from Roger – Closet Monster

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479Dear Cinephiles,

It’s rare that I find a film so entrancing and hopeful that makes me feel excited about the future of cinema.  It’s a most auspicious film debut from director Stephen Dunn which won Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival. You’ve seen coming of age stories before, but Dunn has a completely unique and theatrical language.

The film was reviewed by the New York Times and it was a Critic’s Pick. It plays tonight at 5:00pm and tomorrow at 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre.

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

Click here for tickets.

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In ‘Closet Monster,’ a Teenager’s Self-Discovery Is Tinged With Danger
By Ken Jaworowski – New York Times

You may find yourself hoping that “Closet Monster” fades to black during one of its few cheerful scenes — that way, the conflicted young man at its center will get a happy ending. This affecting film prompts that kind of concern for its characters. You want them to be safe.

Still, as with all of us, happiness isn’t guaranteed, a fact made clear in Stephen Dunn’s script. Mr. Dunn, who also directed, has created individuals who defy easy branding. Outcomes are far from assured, and there’s a constant sense of danger. That threat, as Saul Bellow said of death, becomes “the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything.”

We first meet Oscar as a boy struggling to comprehend his parents’ breakup. Soon he witnesses a sadistic assault against another boy. Those events echo years later when, in high school, he’s desperate to escape his home and understand his sexuality.

As in “Mysterious Skin” or “Boyhood,” this coming-of-age story can feel entrancing, particularly with its surreal touches. Oscar talks to his hamster, which speaks back (voiced by an actress — no spoilers — who knows something about the surreal). And Oscar’s imagination occasionally takes flight, and we ride along.

Connor Jessup wonderfully inhabits the teenage Oscar, who observes others while trying to find himself. Aaron Abrams, as his father, and Aliocha Schneider and Sofia Banzhaf, as friends, are just as multilayered. Jack Fulton is heartbreaking as the younger Oscar.

Near the end of “Closet Monster,” Oscar’s mother recalls his difficult birth, explaining that he has rarely been fortunate. It’s a tough scene that may portend his future. Of course, we don’t know if Oscar will be safe, and neither does he. In this film, and in life, that uncertainty is both deeply scary and greatly exciting.

Santa Barbara Film Festival 2017 to close with Their Finest

The 32nd SBIFF will close with the Lone Scherfig’s romantic comedy THEIR FINEST at the Arlington Theatre on Saturday, February 11 in advance of the film’s March 24 stateside release.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling stated, “Lone’s deeply touching film is authentic, funny and depicts the power that cinema has to bring people together and share their stories.  It was the perfect choice to close this year’s festival.”

The year is 1940, Britain. With the nation devastated by the war, the British ministry turns to propaganda films to boost morale at home. Realizing their films could use “a woman’s touch,” the ministry hires Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) as a scriptwriter in charge of writing the female dialogue. Although her artist husband looks down on her job, Catrin’s natural flair quickly gets her noticed by charming lead scriptwriter Buckley (Sam Claflin). Catrin and Buckley set out to make an epic feature film based on the Battle of Dunkirk starring pretentious fading movie star Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy). As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and their colorful cast and crew work furiously to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation.

The film is produced by Stephen Woolley, Amanda Posey, Finola Dwyer and Elizabeth Karlsen. Christine Langan, Ed Wethered, Robert Norris, Ivan Dunleavy, Peter Watson, Zygi Kamasa and Thorsten Schumacher serve as executive producers. The film is produced by Number 9 Films and Wildgaze Films.

The 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival is slated to run February 1st through February 11th, 2017.

For Passes and Packages click here.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival 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 30 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 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.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community through free programs like its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars. This past June, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre.  The theatre is SBIFF’s new home and is the catalyst for program expansion and marks the first time that Santa Barbara has had a 24/7 community center to expand their mission of educational outreach.

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(Source: sbiff.org press release)

CLOSET MONSTER

A fresh take on the coming-of-age story, this surreal tale follows the artistically driven Oscar (AMERICAN CRIME’s Connor Jessup) hovering on the brink of adulthood. Struggling to find his place in the world after a rough childhood and haunted by images of a tragic incident, Oscar dreams of escaping his small town. After he meets a mysterious and attractive new co-worker, Oscar follows the guidance of his pet hamster Buffy (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and faces his demons to find the life he wants.

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CLOSET MONSTER

Written & Directed

by

Stephen Dunn

Starring:

Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider,
Sofia Banzhaf, Jack Fulton, Mary Walsh, Isabella Rossellini

Country of Origin: Canada

 Running Time: 90 min

 

 

 

Screening at the Riviera Theater, 2044 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara, CA

Showtimes:

Sunday October 16 @ 2:00pm
Monday October 17 @ 7:30pm
Tuesday October 18 @ 5:00pm
Wednesday October 19 @ 7:30pm

Get Tickets Here

“An accomplished, courageous debut”
– Harry Windsor, The Hollywood Reporter

“A most auspicious debut.”
– Dennis Harvey, Variety

“A highly original spin on the coming-of-age drama”
– Wendy Ide, Screen Daily

“There’s always a new coming-of-age drama, but ‘Closet Monster’ is great, we swear.”
– Chuck Wilson, The Village Voice

(Source: sbiff.org)

Santa Barbara Film Festival 2017 Virtuosos Announcement

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award is going off tonight at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara at 8PM!

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger During noted,

“This year has been monumental in the breadth of talent breaking through in distinct and emotional roles. We are excited to honor both new and familiar faces, and look forward to celebrating them and their contribution to the craft.”

This year’s recipients include Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animals), Dev Patel (Lion), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Ruth Negga (Loving), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), and Stephen Henderson (Fences).  The Award presentation, which will be moderated for the seventh year by Dave Karger, will take place February 4, 2017 at the Arlington Theatre at the 32nd edition of the festival, which runs February 1 to February 11, 2017.

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The diverse group will be recognized for their breakthrough roles in 2016 and careers thus far. Aaron Taylor Johnson delivers a fearless and menacing performance as the villainous sociopath Ray Marcus in the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals.  Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, Dev Patel brings an emotional sentimentality and soulful depth to his role in Lion. Janelle Monáe has had a banner year with star-making performances as Mary Jackson in the biographical drama Hidden Figures along with the brilliantly crafted Moonlight, in which she brings sensitivity and sincerity to the role of Teresa. In Moonlight, Mahershala Ali gives a captivating and moving turn as Juan, a man struggling to find his place in the world, and Naomie Harris mesmerizes with her touching and harrowing performance as the mother of a young man navigating his sexuality.  Ruth Negga delivers a mesmerizing and resilient portrayal of Mildred Loving in the biographical drama, Loving.  Simon Helberg won critical raves and audiences’ hearts with his charming performance opposite Meryl Streep as Cosme McMoon – the very expressive pianist in Florence Foster Jenkins.  After decades on Broadway, renowned character actor Stephen Henderson reprises the role of Jim Bono in Denzel Washington’s upcoming Fences, which earned the actor a Tony nomination.

Virtuosos Award
honoring:
Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight)
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins)
and Stephen Henderson (Fences)

Moderated by Dave Karger
Saturday February 4, 2017
Arlington Theatre

Click Here To Attend

Prior recipients for the award include Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Géza Röhrig, Jacob Tremblay, Chadwick Boseman, Ellar Coltrane, Logan Lerman, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy, Quvenzhane Wallis, Demian Bichir, Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, Shailene Woodley, Andy Serkis, Patton Oswalt, Andrew Garfield, John Hawkes, Lesley Manville, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Stuhlbarg, Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, and June Squibb.
(Source: press release sbiff.org)

Note from Roger – Command and Control

Dear Cinephiles,

Yes, COMMAND AND CONTROL is a documentary, yes it plays like a thriller – and I assure you will be at the edge of your seat.  It is also a history lesson of nuclear weapons from WWII through the Cold War and today.  It’s an extremely timely documentary – essential viewing.

Below is a review from LA Times.  It plays tonight at 5:00pm and tomorrow at 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre.

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

Click here for tickets.

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The thin line between safety and Armageddon is at the center of ‘Command and Control’ documentary
By Kenneth Turan – LA Times

Lots of documentaries these days will tell you to be afraid, to be very afraid, but few will scare you as coolly and as convincingly as “Command and Control.”

Directed by Robert Kenner, who co-wrote with book author Eric Schlosser (a key on-screen presence), “Command and Control” focuses on a Sept. 18, 1980, accident at a Titan II missile silo in Damascus, Ark., that came terrifyingly close to causing a nuclear explosion that would have devastated the entire East Coast.

But Kenner and Schlosser, who last collaborated on Kenner’s Oscar-nominated “Food, Inc.,” are also telling a larger story about the inherent dangers nuclear weapons pose not just for our enemies but for ourselves. No weapons advocate ever thought one of these behemoths might detonate right here at home, but the inevitable conclusion on seeing this film is that one very well might.

As Schlosser says quietly, harkening back to the first Trinity site nuclear test in New Mexico in 1945, “from the beginning there was the sense of this immense power just being on the verge of slipping out of our control.”

Though this kind of subject matter is by nature incendiary, Kenner and Schlosser have understood that handling the material as dispassionately as possible is the best way to make it completely unnerving.

Yet, paradoxically, the key people who lived through that 1980 event (almost all of whom are interviewed here) are, even nearly 40 years after the fact, nothing if not emotional about their memories, not surprising when you remember they thought a world-changing nuclear catastrophe was imminent.

Director Kenner has also been helped enormously by the existence, in Green Valley, Ariz., of the Titan Missile Museum, which is in essence an almost exact replica of the Titan missile silo in Arkansas where the accident and the drama took place.

The discreet re-creations of events Kenner and cinematographers Paul Goldsmith and Jay Redmond have filmed are essential in giving us an exact idea of how chilling the space in question was, how unnerving the looming presence of the enormous missile topped by a nine megaton thermonuclear warhead, three times as powerful as all the bombs detonated in World War II, nuclear weapons included.

“Command and Control” begins dramatically, with the deadly accident. It is 6:25 p.m. on that day, and a re-creation shows two members of the Air Force’s Propellant Transfer System team, nearing the end of their 12-hour shift, suiting up to service the behemoth.

“You’re counting on everything to work perfectly all the time,” says Jeffrey L. Plumb, who was 19 at the time. “And things just don’t work perfectly all the time.”

So it was that Plumb’s coworker David Powell used a ratchet instead of a torque wrench to remove a gasket, only to watch in horror (so much so that he didn’t tell his superiors the full story for half an hour) as the gasket fell and hit the side of the rocket, causing an immediate fuel leak that was a real threat to explode and perhaps detonate the warhead.

At this point “Command and Control” goes back and forth between the Air Force’s attempts to deal with this crisis and other past nuclear weapons accidents. The Air Force says there have been 32 of these, which is scary enough, but the film claims there have been more than one thousand.

Most terrifying of all, and gone into in some detail, was a 1961 event when a B-52 bomber broke apart in flight over Goldsboro, N.C. The resulting centripetal force actually armed the hydrogen bomb on board and when the weapon hit the ground, only one tiny switch prevented it from going off.

Off-site, Air Force higher-ups soon took over command of the Arkansas situation, but that didn’t stop the response from becoming chaotic and seat of the pants.

As related by the participants, the story became one of heroism and foolishness, of individual people who responded well and systems that did not. A nuclear explosion did not take place, but terrible things did happen, so embarrassing to the Air Force that even the people who acted heroically were shunned.

As terrifying as this particular event was, the back story is equally scary, including the realization that the United States and the Soviet Union at one time had between them close to 70,000 of these frightening weapons.

And it is very disturbing to hear the people who were in charge of using them, like Lt. Allan D. Childers, say that in the name of deterrence they were perfectly ready to push the launch button. “I had to be prepared to destroy an entire civilization,” he says, “and I had no problem with that.”

Most troubling of all, however, is the idea that nuclear weapons are machines, and every machine ever made has broken down at some point.

“It will happen,” says Sandia Laboratories engineer Bob Peurifoy, a former weapons builder. “Maybe tomorrow, maybe a million years from now, but it will happen.”

As I said, be very afraid.

(Source:www.sbiff.org)

Note from Roger Durling

Dear Cinephiles,

L’Shana Tova!  This week we’re featuring SAND STORM – Israel’s official submission to this past year’s Academy Award.  The film takes place in a Bedouin village in Southern Israel – and it’s rich in cultural specifics.  But it’s themes are so universal.  It gives a powerful – clear–eyed look at the inequalities facing women in that part of the world.
Below is a review from Variety.  It plays tonight at 5:00pm and tomorrow at 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre.

Get tickets here!

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

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A sympathetic but clear-eyed look at the inequalities that entrap women (and the men they love and resent) in a Bedouin village.
By Ella Taylor – Variety

On the face of it, “Sand Storm” presents a familiar feminist tale of a teenaged girl trapped between her desire to control her destiny and the constraints of her traditional family. Yet this emotionally intelligent first feature offers a sympathetic but clear-eyed look at the tangled skein of inequalities that entrap women (and the men they love and resent) in a Bedouin village stranded between modernization and anachronistic patriarchy. Written and directed by a Jewish Israeli woman, Elite Zexer, and made with a Jewish-Arab crew, the film boasts alluring desert visuals, muscular acting and intricate psychology that should attract audiences for women’s movies, foreign art films and those who believe that melodrama still has a place in cinema.

Men are not permitted at a Bedouin celebration in Southern Israel to welcome (with variable enthusiasm) the arrival of a second wife. Instead the older women wear fake mustaches, one of many striking images in “Sand Storm” that address the crucible of anger and pain that simmers beneath the revelry. Jalila (Ruba Blal-Asfour), the man’s first wife, glowers magnificently, and not just because she’s going to have to share power with the younger newcomer. Discovering that her daughter, Layla (Lamis Ammar), has a secret lover at school, Jalila freaks out at first, then defends Layla to her father, Suliman (Haitham Omari), who has given his eldest child many modern advantages — a cell phone, driving lessons, an education — and yet, for his own murky reasons, shows willing to sacrifice her future to an arranged marriage to a village man she barely knows.

At once autocratic and weak, Suliman props up an archaic social structure in which men call the shots but women clean up the messes. Ammar makes a charmingly frisky Layla, but the energy of “Sand Storm” surely belongs to Blal-Asfour as her mother, a caged tiger who smolders and paces and deliver tongue-lashings to her hapless conformist of a husband as needed. Rail as they might, Jalila and Layla remain caught between loyalty to their disintegrating family and an emerging hunger for autonomy and experience that are prohibited by their medieval fate. Those fake mustaches signal both strength and vulnerability, and the movie captures the stark beauty of the Negev desert where this traditionally nomadic tribe has put down roots, marred by a pervasive sense of entrapment for the young woman who’s both deeply attached to her mother and sisters, and desperate to fly the coop.

The handheld camerawork can be rough at times, and here and there Zexer steps a little heavily on the pedal of metaphor: A long tunnel works a touch too hard to flag Layla’s struggle between freedom and family duty. But the director juggles different points of view with aplomb, and her strong script addresses with impressive subtlety the gap between what people say and what they do under extreme pressure.

The strands of her narrative come together to show how everyone is left the loser in polygamous marriage, a divide-and-rule institution that pits not only husband and wife against one another, but also women who would otherwise be inclined to mutual support. Mercifully there’s no Hollywood ending here, only a bracing touch of mordant humor about interior decor that has the discreet hum of groundwork being laid, and rebellions yet to come.

 

Note from Roger Durling – Fatima

Post by Larry Gleeson

Dear Cinephiles,

FATIMA was the “small miracle of a film” that won the Best Picture at this year’s Cesars – France’s equivalent of the Oscars.  It’s such a profoundly enriching experience watching this tale about mothers and daughters and immigrants in France.

It plays tonight at 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre.

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

 

Review: In ‘Fatima,’ a Muslim Mother Working in France Hits Her Limit

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By Stephen Holden –  The New York Times

“If my daughter is a success, my happiness is complete,” declares the title character of “Fatima,” a small miracle of a film from the French director Philippe Faucon.

Divorced from her husband, whom she followed to France and with whom she is still friendly, Fatima (Soria Zeroual) is a 44-year-old North African woman raising two teenage girls in Lyon. The oldest, Nesrine (Zita Hanrot), 18, is a first-year medical student, and the younger, Souad (Kenza-Noah Aïche), is a sullen, sexy 15-year-old rebel ashamed of her mother for working as a housecleaner.

Souad sneers that Fatima is “a useless she-donkey” and “a living rag.” But her mother, however stung, endures the abuse and chooses her words carefully when firing back. Fatima loves her daughter despite her insolence. Steeped in North African Muslim culture, Fatima has traditional notions of what she calls “respectable” female behavior that don’t apply in France, and she is upset when Souad insists on baring her shoulders.

If the movie, loosely based on two books by Fatima Elayoubi, tells a familiar story of immigrants struggling to make something of themselves in an alien culture (Fatima speaks some French but reads only Arabic), it does so in a tone that is kindhearted but clearheaded, and the performances are low-key and believable. (Mr. Faucon picked Ms. Zeroual, a nonprofessional actress, to play Fatima.) It makes you feel the intense pressures facing Fatima and her family from all sides. When a young man flirts with Nesrine on a train, she politely but with a tinge of regret explains that she has to study.

Some of those pressures come from gossipy female neighbors who are envious, and judgmental. One Moroccan woman fumes that Nesrine didn’t greet her at a bus stop, an incident that Nesrine, lost in her thoughts of school, doesn’t recall. While on the job 12 or more hours a day, Fatima is treated with barely disguised contempt by female employers who brusquely order her around and who, she rightly senses, suspect her of petty theft.

Nesrine nearly cracks under the strain of her studies, which require her to absorb complex medical terminology. She worries most about not disappointing Fatima, who is sacrificing everything to pay for her schooling. Nesrine simply can’t afford to fail.

Eventually Fatima, exhausted, falls down stairs with her cleaning equipment and takes a paid five-month medical leave. But when the time is used up, she complains of continuing shoulder pains, although tests indicate she has recovered. She has simply reached her limit.

To bolster her morale, Fatima has been keeping a bedside journal, written in Arabic. As she reads aloud from it to a sympathetic doctor, her reflections on hardship, sacrifice and life’s unfairness have the tone of a humble manifesto.

“Be proud of all the Fatimas who clean working women’s houses,” she reads, and her words resound with the determination and quiet nobility of a woman who, however downtrodden, knows her own worth.

Fatima” is not rated. It is in French and Arabic, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 19 minutes.

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(Source: http://www.sbiff.org)

Warren Beatty to Receive SBIFF’s Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film

Academy Award® winner Warren Beatty will be honored with the eleventh annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film. Known for his iconic roles in BONNIE AND CLYDE, REDS, and DICK TRACY, Beatty will next be seen as Howard Hughes in 20th Century Fox’s RULES DON’T APPLY, which he also wrote and directed. The award will be presented at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara on December 1, 2016 with all funds raised supporting SBIFF’s free year round educational programs.

Since 2006, the annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, which this year coincides with Douglas’s 100th birthday, has been awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Past honorees include Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, and John Travolta.

“Warren Beatty upholds the highest artistic standards of the film industry,” says Kirk Douglas, original award recipient. “His choice of material has entertained us as well as made us think more deeply about the world we live in. I’m delighted he is accepting this recognition of his extraordinary talent.”

The event starts off with an outdoor cocktail reception where attendees mingle with each other and watch the honoree and other special guests walk the red carpet. Following the reception, attendees are seated for an extravagant dinner and tribute in an intimate setting. Following the three-course meal, special guests will take the stage to recognize the honoree’s complete body of work with various montages and clips. The evening culminates with the honoree being presented with the award and addressing the attendees. These events are truly a once in a lifetime experience and will be remembered by its attendees for many years to come.

Tickets are available here.

The 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival s scheduled to run February 1-11, 2017.

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(Source: http://www.sbiff.org)