Category Archives: #SBIFF

Santa Barbara Film Festival Wraps A Successful 2020

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, left, and Bronagh Gallgher, of the 2020 Opening Night Film, A Bump Along the Way, onstage at the historic Arlington, Theatre, in Santa Barbara, Calif., January 15th, 2020. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) exploded with Opening Night film, A Bump Along the Way, and hit a new benchmark with its fan-adoring tributes and special programming – and that’s in addition to the well established and diversified international offerings, the Writers Panel, Producers Panel and Women in the Biz Panel.

A Bump Along the Way delivered a raucous and thought-provoking narrative about “a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves.” Moments of emotionally taut sequences followed by well-timed comic relief set a high benchmark for the rest of the festival offerings.

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Parasite Director Bong Joon Ho (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

A highpoint of this year’s fest was 2020 Oscar-winning Parasite Director Bong Joon Ho accepting the Outstanding Director of the Year Award at SBIFF. Before receiving the award, Joon-Ho, — accompanied by filmmaker and interpreter Sharon Choi — sat down with The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg for an insightful conversation. Afterward, Director Bong Joon Ho accepting the award commented,

 

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Translator Sharon Choi, left, and Bong Joon-ho speak onstage at the Outstanding Directors of the Year during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre on January 23, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)

“It’s been 26 years since I’ve been working as a filmmaker. Because I write all of my scripts myself, I’m quite slow, so personally I’m a little disappointed that I’ve only created seven feature films until now, but when I look back on my past 25 years my life has been quite simple. It’s been about watching films and making films. Only those two things…Ever since I got here and Santa Barbara, I’ve kept looking back trying to figure out if I’m truly outstanding as this award says. But I still think I have a lot of opportunities left. I don’t really want to talk about my age, but recently I’ve been meeting Scorsese very often, and I still have 25 years considering how he is doing right now.”

With over 200 films screening, it’s always a challenge to pick award winners. Here is a list of this year’s award-winning films:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent:

Richard Hobert’s The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son)

Best Documentary Short Film Award:

Henry Roosevelt’s Sixth of June

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film:

Jianna Maartin’s Sin Cielo

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film:

Jonathan Langager’s Cosmic Fling

Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International:

Brian Morrison’s Bastards’ Road

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film:

Fatos Berisha’s The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues)

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema:

William Nicholson’s Hope Gap

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema:

Gerardo Herrero’s The Goya Murders

Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film:

Jesper W. Nielsen’s The Exception (Undtagelsen)

ADL Stand Up Award sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties:

Lydia Dean Pilcher’s Liberté: A Call to Spy

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film:

Katherin Hervey’s The Prison Within

One of my favorite films was Gutterbee (open link for a full review) from Danish filmmaker Ulrich Thomsen.

Festival Director Roger Durling had this to say about this year’s edition:

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling

“It’s been a wonderful 35 years celebrating international cinema as well as our local roots.  We are grateful for all of the staff, volunteers, audiences and filmmakers that were able to join us at SBIFF to come together as a community to celebrate over 200 films – forge a sense of community and love that defies boundary,” SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

SBIFF honorees were well represented at the 92nd Oscar Awards on Sunday, February 8th. Here is a run-down with a few pictures for effect:

Best Picture ~ Parasite – Kwak Sin Ae was on the Producers Panel

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Renee Zellweger (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Best Actress ~ Renée Zellweger was honored with the American Riviera Award

Best Director and Best Original Screenplay ~ Bong Joon Ho was honored with the Outstanding Director of the Year Award

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Laura Dern (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Best Supporting Actress ~ Laura Dern was honored with the Cinema Vanguard Award

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Brad Pitt (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Best Supporting Actor ~ Brad Pitt was honored with the Maltin Modern Master Award

Best Animated Feature ~ Toy Story 4 – Director Josh Cooley joined us for Mike’s FieldTrip to the Movies

Best Production Design ~ Barbara Ling was honored with the Variety Artisans Award

Documentary Feature ~ American Factory – Director Julia Reichert was on the Women’s Panel

Best Makeup and Hairstyling ~ Bombshell – Kazu Hiro was honored with the Variety Artisans Award and Anne Morgan was on the Women’s Panel

Best International Feature Film ~ Parasite was featured as a free screening along with the Bong Joon Ho retrospective

 

Admittedly, I had some fun this year on the red carpet. Here are a few snippets:

Actor Daniel Stern philosophizes on James vs His Future Self.

 

Mayor Cathy graces the Opening Night red carpet!

 

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Santa Barbara Mayor, Cathy Murillo, at the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s  Opening Night red carpet, on January 15, 2020, at the historic Arlington Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

What is a Gutterbee? Ulrich Thomsen lets it fly…and it’s quite a ride!

 

A lovely cast and director – The Marijuana Conspiracy.

 

 

Yes, it’s a real falcon looking for prey! Yikes!!!

 

 

The closing night program featured Santa Barbara short documentaries spotlighting locals places and peeps including the Carrizo Plain and a parking garage guitar player! Only in Santa Barbara will you see such a diverse and dazzling display of art and talent.

Next year’s dates have been announced: The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, will return for the 36th edition January 27th – February 6th, 2021. Mark your calendars!

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

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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 34 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 35th SBIFF include: UGG®, Belvedere Vodka, Netflix, Toyota Mirai, City of Santa Barbara, ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, Montecito Bank & Trust, Union Bank, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, Sephora, Bentson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, SEE International, Manitou Fund, Patagonia, Winchester Mystery House, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Volentine Family Foundation, Boxed Water Is Better, Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation, California Arts Council and many more supporting through trade.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 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. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

 

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SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES WINNERS AND 2021 DATES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SANTA BARBARA, CA (January 25, 2020) – The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, will return for the 36th edition January 27th – February 6th, 2021. 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.

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling delivers remarks during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s American Riviera Award Tribute honoring Rene Zellwegger at the  histporic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

“It’s been a wonderful 35 years celebrating international cinema as well as our local roots.  We are grateful for all of the staff, volunteers, audiences and filmmakers that were able to join us at SBIFF to come together as a community to celebrate over 200 films – forge a sense of community and love that defies boundary,” SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

Also announced today were the award-winning films for the 35th 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 Richard Hobert’s The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son). The films were chosen by jury members Jason Baffa, Max Barbakow, Lisa Black, Alex Carter, Geoff Green, Paul Kurta, Perry Lang, Artie Schmidt, Rita Taggart, Diego Tinoco, John Williams, and Anthony & Arnette Zerbe.

Congratulations to ALL the Winners:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: 

Richard Hobert’s The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son)

Best Documentary Short Film Award: 

Henry Roosevelt’s Sixth of June

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film:

Jianna Maartin’s Sin Cielo

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: 

Jonathan Langager’s Cosmic Fling

Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International:

Brian Morrison’s Bastards’ Road

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film:

Fatos Berisha’s The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues)

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: 

William Nicholson’s Hope Gap

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: 

Gerardo Herrero’s The Goya Murders

Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: 

Jesper W. Nielsen’s The Exception (Undtagelsen)

ADL Stand Up Award sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties: 

Lydia Dean Pilcher’s Liberté: A Call to Spy

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: 

Katherin Hervey’s The Prison Within

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 34 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 35th SBIFF include: UGG®, Belvedere Vodka, Netflix, Toyota Mirai, City of Santa Barbara, ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, Montecito Bank & Trust, Union Bank, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, Sephora, Bentson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, SEE International, Manitou Fund, Patagonia, Winchester Mystery House, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Volentine Family Foundation, Boxed Water Is Better, Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation, California Arts Council and many more supporting through trade.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 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. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

SBIFF35 Poster

(Source: SBIFF Press release)

LAURA DERN ACCEPTS CINEMA VANGUARD AWARD AT 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 22, 2020) – Day 7 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) presented by UGG featured an insightful tribute to Laura Dern, who received the lauded Cinema Vanguard Award for her remarkable career and most recent performances in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Pete Hammond, Deadline’s Awards Editor and Chief Film Critic, moderated the evening, and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos presented Dern with the award.

Highlights from the conversation included: 

  • On why she currently wants to be an actress: “I’m having so much damn fun, it’s amazing. And it wasn’t so fun as a teenager. I think I was caught up in the angst of it all. And trying to chase this idea of being an artist instead of realizing the privilege of doing what you love and the privilege of telling stories, and working with amazing storytellers. To not feel that it was overstated or arrogant to talk about the potential of the healing through art. For us that make art, for those that witness art – we have a very broken home and we’re all trying to figure it out. To have fierce and radical storytellers in film and television and documentaries is the work. We’re so blessed. So to have anything to do with that just radical good fortune.”
  • On the famous Ellen episode when she comes out as a lesbian: It spoke to a moment. We have this opportunity to talk about what matters and I think Citizen Ruth gave birth to that longing in me, why I fell in love with movies, and had that opportunity… and be a part of something profoundly historic. We all had a life-changing experience being a part of that episode in terms of backlash and how radically different we hoped the world looked then.”
  • On her experience filming Star Wars with modern day technology: It was an amazing experience. I’ll never forget walking on the set and [the director] saying ‘action,’ and looking up to say my lines – all of which I expected – but then R2D2 and C-3PO are standing in front of me and it’s crazy. I never need to take a hallucinogenic, I did a Star Wars film.”
  • On a possible Season 3 of Big Little Lies in the works: “I’ll never say no to Renata Klein, she’d kill me. I love that character and we’ll see what they come up with. I fell so in love that character.”
  • On her love for Marriage Story: It was an incredible gift just to witness the movie. I read the script and cried for 20 minutes. I’ve seen the movie five times – I cry every time. I often forget my involvement in it because I find it so deeply personal.”

During Dern’s conversation with Hammond, the audience was treated to various clips from her career, including the films Citizen Ruth, Blue Velvet, Wild Angels, Wild, 99 Homes, Marriage Story, Little Women and more.

Following Dern’s one-on-one conversation with Hammond, Sarandos took the stage to present her with the Cinema Vanguard award, stating: “I had the privilege of being close to Marriage Story from the very beginning. I , like Laura, cried from the very beginning, I knew that this role was written for her, and that she brought that character to life like nobody else in the world could.

The audience was on their feet as Dern and approached the podium to accept her award. In her remarks, Dern recognized Sarandos’s support of art and artists, saying: “I’ve watched artists just fight fight fight to get their stories told and made, and [Ted’s]  just waiting with open arms to make sure artists get the stories told.”

Two-time Academy Award® nominee, Emmy and Golden Globe winner, Dern has touched audiences and critics alike with her moving and heartfelt performances. Currently starring in two of the biggest films of the year Netflix’s Marriage Story and Sony’s Little Women, Dern has also won four Golden Globe Awards with seven nominations, as well as earned a Primetime Emmy Award and seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations.  On television, Dern was most recently seen as Renata in the second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” which aired on HBO this past summer.

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 Michael B. Jordan, 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.

The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

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. Over the past 34 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 panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.

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. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

 

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(Source: SBIFF Press Release)

 

BONG JOON HO TO BE HONORED WITH OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD AT 2020 SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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SANTA BARBARA, CA (JANUARY 21, 2020) – Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG is thrilled to present auteur filmmaker Bong Joon Ho with the prestigious Outstanding Director of the Year Award on Thursday, January 23 for his six-time Oscar nominated film PARASITE. After making history at the SAG Awards for the first foreign language film to win Best Ensemble, SBIFF will be honoring Director Bong with a day long career retrospective, culminating in an evening tribute. He will be only the fourth recipient to receive this solo honor in the festival’s history. The event will take place at the Arlington Theatre.

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

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“As an international film festival, director Bong and his film PARASITE transcend every category and genre globally. Funny, poignant, and thrilling, the film has been embraced around the world and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is ecstatic to continue to shine the light on one of the best filmmakers there is and his remarkable oeuvre,” states Executive Director Roger Durling.

SBIFF will be screening MEMORIES OF MURDER, THE HOST, MOTHER and PARASITE leading up the Outstanding Director of the Year tribute.
Parasite is the seventh feature film from the acclaimed Bong Joon Ho, following on from Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006), Mother (2009), Snowpiercer (2013), and Okja (2017). The modern-day classic Memories of Murder delves into the investigation behind a well-known serial murder case that was never solved, depicting the authoritarian era of the time with satire and sharp insight. The Host takes as its basis the abduction of a young girl by a strange creature that crawls out of the Han River, turning the monster movie genre on its head while also issuing stinging social commentary. And finally, Mother, the story of a woman trying to protect her son from a murder charge, is a dark portrait of motherly love taken to the extreme.

Known for his cutting, socially incisive wit and twisting of genre conventions, Bong Joon Ho has continually raised questions about social institutions and societal inequalities with his unique blend of humor, emotion and suspense. In this sense, Parasite is both highly characteristic of Bong Joon Ho’s work, while at the same time evolving to a new level.

Making history as the first South Korean film to win the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and to be nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Production Design, Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite lit a fire among audiences and critics alike. Over 250 critics have anointed this masterwork as one of the best films of the year. More than 75 of those have ranked it #1 in their annual “top 10 lists.” Parasite won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Bong has earned nominations from DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film; WGA for Best Original Screenplay; PGA for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures; and BAFTA for Best Film, Film Not in the English Language, Director, and Original Screenplay.

The Outstanding Director of the Year Award has previously been presented to Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE), Kathryn Bigelow (HURT LOCKER), David Fincher (BENJAMIN BUTTON) and David O ‘Russell (AMERICAN HUSTLE).

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 34 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.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 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. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

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(Source: Press release provided by SBIFF.org)

 

FILM CAPSULE: A WORM IN THE HEART

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A riveting journey!

A WORM IN THE HEART, an extraordinary documentary about LGBTQ+ life in Russia, world premiered at the Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival on Friday, January 17th.

A WORM IN THE HEART details the extraordinary lives and brave stories of the diverse LGBTQ+ communities across Russia. Shot in six cities along the Trans-Siberian railway and utilizing intimate interviews about current Russian life, this documentary features deeply personal and moving accounts from activists and non-activists alike. The film follows Paul Rice and Liam Jackson Montgomery, a gay couple from Ireland and Wales, as they meet with the many heroic members of the LGBTQ+ community who risk their lives living authentically under oppressive laws and prejudices – from Nobel Peace prize nominees and international activists to drag queen performers thriving in remote Siberia. A WORM IN THE HEART is a never before seen collection of emotionally driven stories captured on their journey that poignantly documents the current state of the Russian LGBTQ+ community.

Said director Paul Rice, “The people I met with along this journey have profoundly impacted mine and my partner Liam’s life, and I hope that this documentary will spread their stories and messages further afield. The LGBTQ+ community is not confined to national borders, and I believe it is entirely our global responsibility to use our voices and talents to support the rights of LBGTQ+ communities in Russia.”

The film will be playing festivals throughout the year.

 

FILM REVIEW: Gutterbee (Ulrich Thomsen, 2019), Denmark

Posted by Larry Gleeson

First film I see for the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) sponsored by UGG, packs an unexpected, invisible wallop to the sensibilities. Making its US Premiere at SBIFF following its World Premiere at the São Paulo International Film GutterbeeFestival, Gutterbee, a character-driven, “social satire about the nexus of identity fear, where religion becomes an intellectual cul-de-sac, and racism, homophobia and intolerance reign supreme,”  provides, at a minimum, a snapshot of what life in small town, rural America looks like from an international perspective. It also reveals a solution on how to forge an elevated pathway into a better, more inclusive existence without forgetting who we are and where we came from.

Writer/director/producer Ulrich Thomsen encases his deeply felt messaging inside two dreamers who set out to open the “ultimate German Sausage restaurant: The Gourmet House of Refuge.” Anthony Starr (The Boys) portrays Mike Dankworth McCoid, a good-hearted bloke who has just been granted a prison release, while Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) portrays Edward Hofler, a German sausage zealot. The two complement and play off one another as well as American film comedy duo, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Gutterbee opens with a simple black and white title frame coupled with non-diegetic, Western music. With noir-style composition, Thomsen immediately begins exposing the dark aspects of rural life and culture spouting throughout the Americana landscape with a voice-over narrative of the town sheriff, played by Chance Kelly. Deftly, he reveals current topics of discussion including gender conversion therapy, greed disguised in the form of wealth gospel preachers, racism, xenophobia, bestiality, superstitions, and bullying, and how these behaviors continue to thrive.

Gutterbee is, by choice, not a major film studio production. It is a filmmaker’s truth. Thomsen derived the material and created his art from his experience including many years working in the United States, his monitoring of presidential tweets, and historical trivia on the art of sausage-making. Nevertheless, it is a professionally orchestrated production.

Oscar-winner Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography [Best Achievement in Cinematography Slumdog Millionaire (2008)] is stellar. The cast is strong with authentic performances from W. Earl Brown (Preacher, Deadwood: The Movie), Pia Mechler, Joshua Harto, Clark Middleton, and Gareth Williams. Scott Christopher Clark’s art direction, via the mise-en-scene, keeps the viewer wary and engaged. The costuming, designed by Suzanne Barnes, is spot on. And, the music from George Kallis, Breakthrough Composer of the Year 2018, International Film Music Critics Award, captivates.

In addition to the very noirish low key lighting and dramatic use of shadows, Gutterbee employs high key lighting, augmenting a plethora of comedic relief juxtaposed against the garishness of the depicted rural culture. Savvy writing allows for a natural and rhythmic flow adroitly addressing social concerns. The editing from Soren B Ebbe is expertly carried out and the use of jump cuts, a verified comedic device, is nicely woven into the film’s fabric.

Thomsen’s artistic snapshot of Americana in Gutterbee left me dumbfounded. In a brilliantly executed film, a message of hope is revealed amidst the human condition of rural Americans. Important to note, the majority of rural dwellers in the United States are of Germanic descent. Having grown up in a German-American community, I appreciated the inclusion of Germanic cultural artifacts including, but not limited to, lederhosen and the St. Pauli Girl-style costuming. Seemingly, the hope for the future of America lies within their rich, cultural hands. Ask, or in the case of Gutterbee, knock, and it shall be opened. Highly recommended film and wildly entertaining!

 

CYNTHIA ERIVO, TARON EGERTON, AND ALDIS HODGE SHOW OFF VOCALS SINGING FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS AT THE 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

VIRTUOSOS AWARD PRESENTED TO ALDIS HODGE, AWKWAFINA, BEANIE FELDSTEIN, CYNTHIA ERIVO, TARON EGERTON, FLORENCE PUGH, AND TAYLOR RUSSELL AT THE 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 19, 2020) – Day 4 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG concluded with a star-studded evening with the presentation of the Virtuosos Award, 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: Awkwafina (The Farewell), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Aldis Hodge (Clemency), George MacKay (1917), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), and Taylor Russell (Waves).

The tribute, held at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, was moderated for the tenth year by Turner Classic Movies host and IMDb special correspondent Dave Karger, who engaged in one-on-one discussions with each of the night’s honorees to take a look back at their flourishing career and recent noteworthy performances.

The one-on-one discussions were followed by a group panel discussion, also moderated by Karger. Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, Santa Barbara local and legendary actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award.

Highlights from the evening include:

Aldis Hodge on working with Alfre Woodard in the film Clemency: “As an actor and an artist, I always seem to put myself around teachers. I love to get around education and an environment that’s going to help elevate and grow me. Being around someone as masterful as miss Woodard – that’s exactly what you’re going to get. She’s a fantastic actress, a fantastic scene partner, a fantastic leader. So for me, it really was a privileged education.

Awkwafina on using her real name, Nora Lum, for her on-screen credit in the future: “I think in the beginning, Awkwafina really was someone to kind of like take the stage fright and the nervousness and the neuroses and the overthinking. But I think more and more as I grew up, I realize they are the same person. And when I see the name Awkwafina on like a chair back or a call sheet, it’s the name I chose for myself. That means something to the 15-year-old girl that was like ‘it’s a great idea to name yourself Awkwafina. Which years later – regrettable – but it’s fine. It’s an homage to that, and I don’t think I’m ready to lose it yet.”

Beanie Feldstein on young girls admiring her for her role in Booksmart: “Sometimes I’ll just see two young girls come walk up to me and I just put my arms out, and it’s so fun and it’s so lovely. It’s just a joy. We made this movie for everyone, but it’s a testament and celebration of young women, and we just wanted to do this generation proud because they’re so engaged with the world in a way that even…I was at that age. But I feel like young people today are invested in their society at such a young age and it’s so inspiring and we really wanted to celebrate that in Booksmart.”

Cynthia Erivo on getting emotional during the Sesame Street tribute at the Kennedy Center Honors: “I think there’s something so endearing about the stories that Sesame Street would tell. It included everybody. No one was excluded from something like Sesame Street. So when I was watching the montage of the things that went by, it just made me feel like a kid again. I felt like these people really wanted to include all the children in the world. No one was different, no one was apart.”

Florence Pugh on her performance as Amy March in Little Women: “[Greta] wanted Amy to be more than just the girl that burned the book and ended up with the guy, and she was excited to maybe let people see themselves in Amy…When we made it, it felt great and lovely. Through Amy in this version, the audience finally gets to see how rough and how tough it was for women, and how clever she was for her to choose the life that she had.”

George MacKay on working on the film 1917: “It’s like a play and a film together, and that process of being involved right from the beginning…we had to choreograph the entire film. We had to suss out the emotional rhythm and the pace of the entire piece because it dictated the actual length of the set.”

Taron Egerton on winning a Golden Globe for Rocketman: “You know, I’m from a really rural part of the UK. I’m from the middle of Wales, and the Golden Globes feels like something that happens to other people. So to be there, to be nominated was incredible…to win was just really wonderful.”

Taylor Russell on how her personal experience translated to her role in Waves: “There’s a lot in my life that I think prepared me for this role. I have two brothers, and that connection is really important to me…I know what it feels like to love somebody and not like them. I knew what a relationship was like with a brother, so I had that and felt that with Kelvin right away.”

 

The final portion of the program was a true crowd-pleaser as Karger brought out all eight honorees for a panel discussion. The audience got a special treat when Karger asked what each person’s go-to karaoke song is, which then escalated to the honorees breaking out into song on stage.

Provoked by Erivo, Hodge sang a few lines of his favorite karaoke song, “Gold Digger” by Jamie Foxx ft. Kanye West. He then prompted Erivo to sing her song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner. While Erivo was belting out a few bars from the song, Feldstein pretended to faint in her chair as the audience cheered for more. Egerton also volunteered to sing part of his favorite karaoke song, “Faith” by George Michael.

Other topics of discussion included favorite movies of all time, dream roles and the films that surprised them the most this year.

Following the panel discussion, actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award. The evening concluded as the talented group of actors laughed and mingled in a VIP afterparty.

Last year’s recipients of the Virtuosos Award were Yalitza Aparicio, Sam Elliott, Elsie Fisher, Claire Foy, Richard E. Grant, Thomasin McKenzie, John David Washington, and Steven Yeun.

The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

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. Over the past 34 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 panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.

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. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

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(Source materials provided by sbiff.org)

ADAM DRIVER ACCEPTS OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS OF THE YEAR AWARD AT THE 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 18, 2020) – Day 3 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a heartening tribute to 2020 Oscar nominated actor Adam Driver, who received the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award presented by Belvedere Vodka. Driver was recognized for his critically acclaimed work in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

As he arrived to the tribute, the actor was greeted by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, who later presented him with the award. After taking a few questions from young aspiring student journalists on the red carpet, Driver sat down with IndieWire’s Anne Thompson for an insightful conversation and look back at his varied career and beginnings as a U.S. Marine.

Some of the highlights from the conversation included:

  • On shooting the dramatic “fight scene” in Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson: ”We were supported by a very clear backbone of what we were doing. It was very carefully choreographed. We worked on it very similar to a play…because it was so well-written, blocking came really fast…When we were shooting it, it didn’t feel very dissimilar to what it’s like when you shoot a love scene with everyone naked. Our boom operator is holding the mic, but he’s kind of looking away. There’s such focus given to what we’re doing, and there’s not a lot of conversation in between…there’s two people trying to be as naked as possible.”
  • On working with Noah Baumbach: “It was on our first day of working together we clicked right away…His scripts are very to the letter and feel very much like theatre to me, which I found immediately comforting. I like that he just sets different boundaries than other directors. The lines are the lines. Don’t change them. And how you interpret them is up for grabs.”
  • On his character Charlie’s connection to his ballad of “Being Alive”: “It’s a song that he knows very well. By heart…he’s seen the YouTube clips and probably has the soundtrack. Maybe he even directed a production of it in high school. He knows it implicitly…for the first time he starts to process not the loss of love but love transitioning into something else.”
  • On how being in the military prepared him for acting: “It’s the best acting training…the structure is exactly the same. I mean, the end result is much different, and in one you’re pretending the stakes are life and death, in the other they actually are.”

Just before Driver’s conversation with Thompson, the audience was treated to a montage of Driver’s varied career, including clips from films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Francis Ha, BlacKkKlansman and Star Wars. 

Following Driver’s conversation with Thompson, Durling took the stage to present him with the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award, saying: Adam Driver, in my humble opinion, your acting as Charlie is the best performance by a male in 2019 by far. You bare your soul in this film. You do not rely on makeup. You don’t rely on wardrobe, nor dramatic weight changes. Instead, you wear your emotions on your skin and dig deep.”

Upon accepting his award with a standing ovation from the audience, Driver said: “Acting to me is many things. You know, it’s a craft. It’s a political act. Unfortunately, it’s a business, and it’s a service. I think that acting is a service industry. I’m there in service of the director, the actors and the crew, and the story overall, which is more important. I very much believe in that. I believe in the potential effect of great collaboration. I think movies and films and art can lead people out of the dark.”

Following the tribute, Driver and Thompson headed just outside the theatre for a VIP after party presented by Belvedere, where guests mingled over specialty cocktails, struck a pose in a gif-able photo booth and gathered around warm cozy lounge areas amid the chilly Santa Barbara weather.

The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year. Past recipients of the award include Rami Malek, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron.

The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

 

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. Over the past 34 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 panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.

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. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

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(Source: Press release courtesy of sbiff)

 

The Marijuana Conspiracy

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Never a dull moment during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) red carpet events. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson were slated to receive the Outstanding Performers of the Year which “recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year.” Yet, for the first time in the history of SBIFF, a no-show occurred. Late reports have Ms. Johansson under the weather.

Thank heavens for the talented and vivacious cast and the collaborative writer/director of The Marijuana Conspiracy, based on “Project Venus,” a government-funded research project to study the effects of marijuana on females.

The passion and zeal The Marijuana Conspiracy group emanated in our short conversation leads me to believe The Marijuana Conspiracy is a highly potent project. The story line about a group of women held in isolation for ninety-eight days during the winter of 1972 in Toronto, Canada, with a team of doctors noting the physical and social effects of marijuana on the females resonates.

So without further adieu, check out our talk, catch a screening, and experience the positivity of The Marijuana Conspiracy. You’ll be glad you did!

See below for more details on the film.

 

(From SBIFF.org) In 1972, a group of young women took part in an outlandish scientific study to measure the effects of marijuana on women. It began as fun, like a hippie camp: get paid to smoke weed and make some easy cash. The young women thrived and excelled at their given tasks despite their “toke times,” so scientists gave the girls ever-increasing THC levels to smoke. The girls eventually become zombified and felt like lab rats under constant observation and prodding. Yet, they endured, with no one to care for them and no laws to protect them. The girls used their unique strengths, resilience, and friendship to overcome this extreme adversity. This film tells their story.

Directed by Craig Pryce
Produced by Colin Brunton, Jennifer Haufler, Katarzyna Kochany, Craig Pryce, Mark Pancer
Written by Craig Pryce
Starring Brittany Bristow, Morgan Kohan, Julia Sarah Stone, Tymika Tafari, Kyla Young
Independent Competition Sponsored by Panavision
Country: Canada
123 minutes
US Premiere

The Marijuana Conspiracy is screening tomorrow at 4:20PM, at the Fiesta Theatre, Auditorium #4, and,

January 19th, at 5:20PM, at the Metro Theatre, Auditorium #2

For more information on screenings visit SBIFF.org.

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Lost Transmissions

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time. More red carpet coverage from the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). Katharine O’Brien’s Lost Transmissions, a powerful human interest story starring Alexandra Daddario, is sure to pique the sensibilities. Check out the conversation and, more importantly, check out Lost Transmissions. See below for details.

 

 

(FROM SBIFF.org) Hannah, a shy songwriter, discovers that her friend, respected record producer Theo Ross, has lapsed on his medication for schizophrenia. Hannah rallies a group of friends to help commit Theo to a psychiatric facility, chasing him as he outruns his colorful delusions through the glamour and grit of Los Angeles. From the highs of rock ‘n’ roll to rock bottom, it’s a story of the unsung heroes behind the hits.

Directed by Katharine O’Brien
Produced by Filip Jan Rymsza, Tory Lenosky
Written by Katharine O’Brien
Starring Simon Pegg, Juno Temple, Alexandra Daddario
Cinesonic Sidebar
Country: USA
105 minutes

Last Lost Transmissions screenings of the festival!

Tomorrow, 6PM, Metro Theatre, Auditorium 4

January 19th, 2:20PM, Metro Theatre, Auditorium 2

For more screening information visit: SBIFF.org

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