Category Archives: #SBIFF

SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES CLAUDIA PUIG AS PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR

August 12, 2021 – Santa Barbara, CA.  The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today the appointment of Claudia Puig as Programming Director. In her role, Puig will lead the curation of the film slate for the 2022 edition of the Festival. The program will include a broad array of over 200 international and independent films with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, with most films being World or U.S. Premieres. Puig will lead insightful Q&As and seminar discussions with hundreds of attending filmmakers, and she will report to Roger Durling, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Puig is currently serving as president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and is a longtime critic on NPR’s Film Week. 

 

“Claudia has tremendous film festival programming expertise, and we are thrilled to welcome her to the team. We have the utmost faith in her ability to bring forward a program of unmatched quality to share with our community; and with both Claudia and I being Latino, this marks a first for any major Film Festival’s artistic leads,” said Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director.

Prior to joining SBIFF, she handled programming for AFI Fest, the Mendocino Film Festival, and the Napa Valley Film Festival. She has been a speechwriter for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In addition, Claudia has a film consulting business specializing in cultural consulting and teaches a college class on Diversity in the Media. Previously, she was USA Today’s film critic for 15 years. During that time, she also hosted The Screening Room video series and wrote film reviews and analytical articles about the film industry. Before that, she was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times for 11 years covering city government, courts, and the entertainment industry.

 

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, will take place LIVE on March 2 through March 12, 2022. Official events including screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout the city, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. This year’s lineup will be announced February 2022. 

 

Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the world attracting 100,000+ attendees throughout the week. Funds raised through the festival directly support SBIFF’s year-round free programs that serve over 18,000 people. Passes for the 2022 Festival will be on sale for 25% off starting next Monday, August 16th. For additional information or to buy passes, visit 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 dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 35 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ 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.

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.

SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WILL RETURN IN PERSON AND ANNOUNCES 2022 DATES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG® will be happening LIVE March 2 – March 12, 2022. Official events including screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout the city, including at the historic Arlington Theatre.

“After more than a year of staring at screens from home, SBIFF is chomping at the bit to welcome everyone back to Santa Barbara for collective experiences and engaging face-to-face interactions about cinema!” says Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director.

 

Last year, SBIFF’s executed an elaborate build-out of two beachside drive-in theatres, debuting 47 world premieres and 37 U.S. premieres, with honorary awards bestowed on Bill Murray, Carey Mulligan, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Zendaya, and Delroy Lindo. With the anticipation of the in-person live experience coming back to film festivals, organizers are expecting A-list guests to once again ascend on Santa Barbara, making it a must-stop location on the awards circuit, delivering an unprecedented number of films, many of them World and US premieres.  The film lineup and schedule will be announced in February 2022.

Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the world attracting 100,000+ attendees throughout the week. Funds raised through the festival directly support SBIFF’s year-round free programs that serve over 18,000 people.

Passes for the 2022 Festival will be on sale in August. For additional information or to buy passes, visit sbiff.org

Chloé Zhao, David Fincher, Lee Isaac Chung, and Thomas Vinterberg receive the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award at SBIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

CHLOÉ ZHAO, DAVID FINCHER, LEE ISAAC CHUNG, AND THOMAS VINTERBERG ARE HONORED WITH OUTSTANDING DIRECTORS OF THE YEAR AWARD AT THE 36TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) presented by UGG featured a tribute to this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter. Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), David Fincher (Mank), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), and Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) received their awards during the live virtual event and discussed their work with The Hollywood Reporter’s longtime awards columnist and host of its popular Awards Chatter podcast, as well as a professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Scott Feinberg.

Some of the highlights from the conversation included:

Chloé Zhao on connecting with Francis McDormand: “She’s so authentically herself and tries to live a life that’s authentic to herself. And she brings that with her to whichever character she plays. When we first met, we both took off our shoes and sat on the floor….that was pretty telling. We all know that she is an incredible actress, but for me it was most important for her ability to be vulnerable and to not always know the character in the moment, to not always know what’s going to happen and yet be completely present.”

When speaking about the film The Searchers, Zhao noted, “If there is a modern-day John Wayne, it is Francis McDormand.”

David Fincher on Mank and the script written by his father: “My father was sort of raised in movie theaters. He was a latch key kid during the depression in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and had a fairly difficult relationship with his father who drank a lot. My grandfather’s idea of taking care of little Jack was to leave him in a movie theater for the 11 o’clock, 1 o’clock, and 3 o’clock so he saw the dream factor of Hollywood as very much a safe place to sort of nestling in and spend one’s afternoons. Mank was a film that began with sort of a quest for a challenge, he was retiring and decided that he wanted to take a swing at writing a screenplay. He was the kind of person and writer who very much had a great deal of respect and almost awe for how screenplays were constructed. I mean that not in a highest-minded way, but he loved entertainment, he saw movies very much in the same way people now love television shows. So, for him, it was a way to go out into the world and to sort of experience anything else that was happening in Tulsa.”

Lee Isaac Chung’s objective of making Minari for his daughter: I came to a point in my work where I wasn’t sure of what I was doing, if what I was doing was really what I wanted to do, especially once my daughter came. I started to think more on the long term, what would it be that she’s watching based on work that I’ve made. That question stayed with me and haunted me quite a lot and so naturally I ended up coming to this point where I just started to want to make a film that she could have in the future. She was the age that the character of Alan [Kim] is in the story and that helped me kind of figure out how to write a story that’s told from her perspective and also captures a little bit of what I see in her.”

Thomas Vinterberg on filming Another Round during a personally challenging time: “As you know, I lost my precious daughter while making this movie and it has made this whole situation very different from anything I’ve ever tried and hopefully anything I’ll ever try again. It made this film precious to me. As we decided to make this movie for her. She died four days into shooting this film. She was supposed to be in it, she loved it dearly, she loved the whole project. Making this movie, I guess, kept me from insanity. The whole thing is inseparable from what we experienced with my daughter. All these people, including Madds, knew my daughter since she was born and we were all in grief, of course particularly myself and my family and we still are, and they carried me through, the actors and the crew of this film. There was so much love on the set, there was so much embracement and I hope you can see that on the screen.”

The honorees came together at the end of the discussion and spoke about what it’s been like meeting each other for the first time during this year’s award season and participated in a rapid-fire list of questions from Feinberg. Here are the top things we learned:

On their “Must Watch Film” this season:

  • Chloé Zhao – Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger

  • Lee Isaac Chung – Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always

  • Thomas Vinterberg – Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks

 

On the one question they never want to be asked again about their current film:

  • David Fincher – Did the film have to be in black & white?

  • Chloé Zhao – Why isn’t this a documentary?

  • Lee Isaac Chung – Did I really feed my grandmother pee?

  • Thomas Vinterberg – Were the actors drunk on set?

 

On the first thing to do post-pandemic:

  • David Fincher – “To go back to movie theaters and fly.”

  • Chloé Zhao – “International travel, going back to China and eating the food I can digest.”

  • Lee Isaac Chung – “Drinking together again.”

  • Thomas Vinterberg – “To sleep a full night.”

SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling provided glowing accolades to the recipients making filmic connections to their work that brought admiring smiles from me, Scott Feinberg, Chloe Zhou, and David Fincher. Thomas Vinterberg seemingly sat in a dumbfounded form of awe. Unfortunately, at the time of publishing, I did not have access to a clip that I might share as Durling is quite remarkable.

The Outstanding Directors Award was created to recognize a select group of directors who have pushed the boundaries in their storytelling and created films that showcase the art of filmmaking at its best.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will continue through April 10th, 2021, online and with the two ocean-front drive-ins sponsored by TOYOTA. Tickets and passes are available at 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 dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 35 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ 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. 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.

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Mia Neal, Leslie Odom, Jr. + more receive the 7th Annual Variety Artisans Award at SBIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG continued with the presentation of and interviews with the recipients of the Variety Artisans Award, an honor that celebrates those essential to the filmmaking process and who have exhibited the most exciting and innovative work of the year in their respective fields. The evening is one of the most educational events of the festival serving as a primer for young people looking at the arts and crafts that support the film industry.

Nicolas Becker (Sound of Metal), Joshua James Richards (Nomadland), Donald Graham Burt & Jan Pascale (Mank), Alexandra Byrne (Emma), Alan Baumgarten (Trial of Chicago 7), Mia Neal (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Sean Faden (Mulan), Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth (One Night in Miami), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Mank) discussed their work, their influence and offered advice to the younger generation with dreams of breaking into the industry with Variety’s Senior Artisans Editor Jazz Tangcay. Clips from each of the films were shown in advance of the conversation. Following the conversation, David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco presented the award to the artisans.

Some of the highlights from the conversation included:

Leslie Odom, Jr. on the genesis of Speak Now: “She (Regina King) showed us an early cut of her beautiful film and we went to work…We only had two weeks…If you use your time well a week is plenty of time, there is a lot of hours in a week. We just kept coming back to it and making it better every time we came back. Doing our best anyway, trying to be artisans, you know.”

Mia Neal on the research she did before starting work on Ma’s hair and makeup: “Ma is a very interesting character…If you think about, you know, this was a woman of color during the 1920s, probably the first generation born free from enslavement in her family to leave the rural south and to start to travel and be a blues singer and her lyrics very racy for the time. She had a husband and a wife. She didn’t follow the rules, she just set the tone. There aren’t many photos of Ma. I think there’s a total of 7 that exist in the world…A lot of our decisions were just based on descriptions that other people gave of her and then thinking about the psychology of her, just her life and where she came from and how she really recreated herself…Of course, I followed the leadership of Ann Roth, our costume designer, who through her research discovered that Ma Rainey wore horsehair wigs so we kept that authentic. Putting her in a fur coat in the summertime, that was like ‘okay, this woman follows absolutely no rules and social norms.’…Her clothing alone – whatever store that would’ve sold that clothing, they would not have allowed blacks in at that time but she still had it…It’s nice to have been challenged in that way where I didn’t have the photos…I really got to play more with this psychologically than normal.”

Mia Neal on the wig creation process: “Leah Loukas and I built over 100 wigs to bring down for the production. That was for the background, for Ma’s dancers, and then a separate set of wigs for the main principal characters…The horsehair wig came from Europe and it just came in a stalk. It had string tied around it and it was covered in manure and lice eggs, nothing active. It had clearly been stored away somewhere for a very long time because I had to peel it apart…The hairs were so wiry and thick that I could only fit one through the lace that I used to build the wigs on so the entire wig is single strand. I boiled it afterwards trying to clean it and clean it. I figured out that it softened the hairs once I boiled it, so I used that process to set the wig as well. I wish I would’ve timed myself…close to 80 hours.”

Trent Reznor on how their experience with Watchman helped their experience working on Mank: “From the timeline of things, we were deep in the world of Watchman when we knew Mank was coming out. Soul was also lingering around. We had quite a bit of time before we actually started working on these projects to deeply think about them and feel tremendous anxiety about them. We thought it [Mank] would require us, and it did, to move into a different lane that we’re not that accustomed to, in this case, every note being played by other musicians in an orchestral setting, in a different style, with the added challenge of it happening during a pandemic…An opportunity came up during Watchman where we needed the exact same thing [as we needed here with Mank]…so it was a good test run to see if we could pull it off and it worked out great and I think that experience gave us the confidence…that we can pull of the unique to us challenges. We can adapt into this new canvas. It greatly influenced how we approached the score writing for Mank.”

Atticus Ross on recording during the pandemic: “The challenge was there is no other option. We were lucky we had a very good team on this who helped put the musicians together, phenomenal musicians, probably the only bonus of the pandemic was there wasn’t a lot of music being recorded so we had incredible musicians at our disposal. Every part was recorded separately at home by the musician, our engineer would supply us with mics that would be transported from one place to another, sanitized, with instructions on how they should be set up to record. The sheet music obviously and then we basically just prayed to god that it would work out.”

Sean Faden on creating the epic battle scene: “We visited the Valley in the south of New Zealand in helicopters…We found a location that would work great for the open space. We knew if we added special effects steam…We ended up having 80 real soldiers for the imperial side and we had at most 67 horseman riders but in the end it had to look like at least 500 on each side…Sony Pictures Imageworks did that work. We started by creating soldier assets so we could replicate the soldiers. We built horses…We also needed to create the mountain that was going to be around it…I just used my iPad to sketch where the mountain would be…The reason why that sequence works well is because it was conceived as an epic battle that was not going to be gory…We used layers of steam to hide some of the violence so it was almost just suggested.”

Sean Faden on the transformation of Gong Li: “The one takeaway from the visual effects is there’s a lot of it, we did over 2,000 shots. Most of them are supporting the story and expanding the world that Niki [Caro] was creating…The scene plays out as one shot and the transformation is so subtle you almost have to play it back because there’s so many layers…The mandate for that was to make it subtle to make it beautiful…It was a challenge to create something that was that sleight of hand.”

Alan Baumgarten on his editing process: “I had the great gift of a wonderful script and great performances from our incredible ensemble cast…It’s just a matter of working my way through. Building it for the script and then finding the unexpected moments where we can explore and diverge from what was there on the page. I let the performances lead me. I find that when I’m working on a scene I really concentrate on that and I let the acting and the performance tell me which shot selection I want to be in and where I want to be for the emotional moments.”

Alexandra Byrne on changing Emma’s color palette changing with the seasons throughout the film: “I was talking to Autumn and we felt that because the story goes over a calendar year, we could use Emma as the central character to tell that story…By making her the pivotal role, and locating her palette in a seasonal palette, we could then really put the other characters in her context which is how she viewed the world and that everything was orbital to her existence. It just helped us contain what could’ve gotten out of control.”

On films that influenced and inspired them:

“My parents thought it was really important to take us to see Spike Lee movies on the weekends that they came out…I do remember Malcolm X being a high watermark for Spike as a filmmaker at that time. I think because I had a context for the filmmaker too, I knew a little of Spike, I knew a little of Denzel, so just to see them achieve new heights had a profound impact on me and I don’t think I’ve ever shaken that.” –Leslie Odom, Jr.

“I got hold of that Michael Jackson Thriller box set…it had the behind the scenes of Thriller… The other big one was Charlie Chaplin. The idea of the iconic always fascinated me.” –Joshua James Richard

“Raiders of the Lost Arc…blown away by the world that was created…It inspired me and I didn’t know I was going to get into visual effects or anything like that at the time but I knew there was a world for being creative.” –Sean Faden

Lawrence of Arabia…I was just astounded that this world existed. I’d never seen anything like it.” –Alexandra Bryne

“I was really into horror films growing up. It was something about that burnt face on Freddy Krueger…I was always fascinated like ‘how do they do that?’…The first film that really transformed me was Little Women…that movie made me feel different about this industry.” –Mia Neal

“…I have to go back to the movies with the soundtracks that impacted me the most which would be Good Will Hunting and Magnolia…The entire Magnolia soundtrack probably planted the seed that I’d want to make music for movies one day.” –Sam Ashworth

“Bladerunner…I think for me the most important is the real-life…My favorite film is life.” –-Nicolas Becker

“Birdman…it blew my mind…It was an eye-opener.” –Jan Pascale

“…In Cold Blood which scared me to death…When I went to college I remember seeing a movie called Eraserhead and I think that was the movie that made me turn the corner there.” –Donald Graham Burt

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will continue through April 10th, 2021, online and with the two ocean-front drive-ins sponsored by TOYOTA. Tickets and passes are available at 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 dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 35 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ 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. 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.

BILL MURRAY ACCEPTS MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD AT THE 36TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, PRESENTED BY SOFIA AND ROMAN COPPOLA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a tribute to Academy Award-nominated actor and American film legend Bill Murray, who received the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award, presented by Sofia and Roman Coppola. Murray was recognized for his long-standing contributions to the film industry, most recently in the role of Felix Keane in Coppola’s On the Rocks opposite Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans, for which he received Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice nominations.

Murray, above right, virtually sat down with Leonard Maltin, who returned for his 31st year to moderate the evening for an insightful conversation and look back at his career.

Highlights from the conversation included:

On who he enjoyed watching when he was younger: “To me it was more interesting was the people that I really didn’t quite understand when I was younger that later I got to really like. The person that jumps into my mind is Jack Benny who I thought was a little bit dry for a 10 or 12 year old, but later when I watched him I saw that he was daft. His timing was so precise, his face was such a beautiful photograph that I would turn on the TV and record him just to go back and watch him. I didn’t really care for John Wayne much when I was a kid. I thought he was kind of stiff but later I got to like him and watched him more. I thought he had extraordinary self control; he didn’t push it, he let the story come to him. Cary Grant is another one where people thought ‘well he’s just a really good looking guy,’ but I can watch, like most of the world, North by Northwest at any hour of the day. If it’s on the TV, I can’t not watch it. Part of it is Hitchcock, but Cary Grant is just stunning in that role and he does so many things. He is funny, he’s romantic, he’s heavy, he’s frightened. It’s a really nice performance and he did it all the time. Unfortunately, he had this beautiful body and handsome face and people didn’t take it seriously.”

On transitioning from improv comedy to film: “The most difficult thing is that when you tell a joke or say something funny and no one laughs for nine months, you forget and you have this incomplete feeling in your gut that something’s wrong. And when you go to the movie and you realize that I said something funny a long time ago and no one laughed. And then when you see it with an audience you think ‘oh thank God that’s over, what a relief that was.”

On filming Ghostbusters: “A script is two-dimensions, a script can be as good as can be, but when you enter the physical world and you have to stand, move, walk and talk, something arise that’s unexpected and unaccounted for and that’s where you make your bones; it’s what happens there. A movie that is sort of lifeless is one where sometimes the script is all you get and the actors don’t take into it all that’s happening in the moment of the real shooting…the more alive the scene becomes and the more alive the film becomes. That movie had great cinematography. Of course, László Kovács…you know a lot of special effects movies look pretty weak nowadays but that movie [Ghostbusters] still has a real look to it. It is pretty legit, it was ahead of its time, we had great special effects people. They were really good and László was really good. The four of us, Ernie Hudson, Danny and Harold, we knew we were gonna sink or swim together so we were always looking out for each other. We were constantly making sure that everybody was pumping and all getting it. As far as improvising goes, Harold was the mind of the Ghostbusters, Danny was the heart of the Ghostbusters, Ernie was the soul of the Ghostbusters and I was the mouth of the Ghostbusters.”

On his introduction to Wes Anderson: “My agent kept sending me cassettes of his [Wes Anderson] first film, Bottle Rocket. Finally, they sent me the script to Rushmore and asked me if I would like to meet him and I said that’s not necessary. He knows exactly what he wants to do. When I read the script, I thought this guy knew exactly what he was going to do. My agent asked well do you want to meet him? I said it’s not necessary, when do we shoot? Sort of like that.”

On writing and directing: “I really think of myself as I should be writing. I really do wish to be a writer. I can write dialogues and scenes, but to write a full-length anything is different…I just haven’t buckled down. I really do enjoy directing, and I thought I was going to do it all the time because I liked it. I liked working with actors and I thought I understood actors, I could do that. My life changed and to direct a movie it takes a long time out of your life to make. When it was time for me to continue directing movies, I didn’t have that time to give.”

During Murray’s conversation with Maltin, guests enjoyed nostalgic clips of his film career, including Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, St. Vincente, On the Rocks, and more.

Roman Coppola, lower left, with sister Sofia Coppola, lower right, presented Bill Murray, upper right with the 2021 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Maltin Modern Master Award. Leonard Maltin, upper left, for whom the award is named after, moderated the tribute virtually on April 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Following Murray’s conversation with Maltin, Sofia and Roman Coppola presented him with the Maltin Modern Master Award. Sofia opened her remarks by saying: “I’m so happy to join and present Bill with the Maltin Modern Master Award. It’s been fun to look at the clips from all the great films. Thank you for all the fun and love you bring to our lives through your work and as a person. It’s always fun making movies with you and thank you for helping me make the movies that I wanted to make. I’m happy to know you and have you in my family.”

Upon accepting his award, Murray said: “I’d like to say a few words before sentencing… it’s really an honor to receive the Maltin Milk award. When I heard I was involved in the award, I was taken by surprise, thinking that you had passed away. I had worked up so many nice things to say about you. But I was very happy to hear you were still alive. That’s my happy-sad moment.”

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 Judy Garland, Brad Pitt, Glenn Close, 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 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will continue through April 10th, 2021, online and with the two ocean-front drive-ins sponsored by TOYOTA. Tickets and passes are available at 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 dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 35 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ 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. 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.

SBIFF Modern Master Award Goes to Bill Murray

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Academy Award-nominated actor and American film legend Bill Murray received the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award at the 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Friday, April 2, 2021, in a live virtual tribute for his long-standing contributions to the film industry, most recently in the role of Felix Keane in Sofia Coppola’s ON THE ROCKS opposite Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans, for which he received Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice nominations.

After an exceptionally riveting musical score accompanying the introductory frames, SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling introduced the tribute that “honors an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry,” remarking Murray has been a Maltin Modern Master for years and this year was the year SBIFF bestowed the honor before giving way to the event’s moderator, Leonard Maltin.

In turn, Maltin introduced Murray including a montage of clips providing a warm fuzzy retrospective with some of Murray’s more memorable characters. Laments of not having an audience registered.

 

Nevertheless, hearing and listening to these two motion picture industry giants discussing a career that spans five decades with background details and anecdotes of Murray’s career was not diminished in the virtual format. Quite the opposite as Sofia Coppola popped in with an effervescence followed closely by her brother, Roman Coppola. As the Coppolas joined the conversation so did a wave of nostalgia as though the passing of the torch was occurring between generations.

The Maltin Modern Master Award is the highest award SBIFF bestows and Bill Murray was given his due this evening for decades of entertaining audiences across the globe.

Leonard Maltin celebrated his 31st year moderating at SBIFF. And, the Coppola siblings, Sofia and Roman, added a depth of presence to the special moment in time.

The event was presented by the Manitou Fund.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will continue through April 10th, 2021, online and with the two ocean-front drive-ins sponsored by TOYOTA. Tickets and passes are available at SBIFF.org.

SBIFF Opens to Sold Out Drive-in Screenings

Posted by Larry Gleeson

I shouldn’t have expected anything less than SOLD OUT screenings for the 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Opening Night Film, Invisible Valley. SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, looking debonnaire in a black-tie tuxedo, started off the evening with an introductory note emphasizing the words of community, optimism, positivity, and hope, then thanked the city of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin, and the SBIFF Staff for their support and efforts in bringing this year’s live/virtual hybrid event to fruition before introducing the director of Invisible Valley, Aaron Maurer. Maurer proceeded to introduce his film, Invisible Valley, as the 2021 SBIFF Opening Night Film.

Post-Opening Night screen in the lower Santa Barbara City College Stadium Lot for the 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival sponsored by UGG, March 31, 2021. The festival runs, March 31st – April 10th, 2021, online and with two ocean-front “state of the art” drive-ins sponsored by TOYOTA! Tickets and passes are available at SBIFF.org. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

I viewed the Opening Night Film, Invisible Valley, on the Stadium Screen in the Santa Barbara City College lower lot next to the football stadium. The quality was as good as some of the extreme definition screenings I’ve seen. I also heard several wishful comments that the festival and/or the city keep the screens and continue making film viewings community events! They’ll get no complaints from me. In the meantime, stay tuned for more on Invisible Valley and the multitude of highly curated films of the 2021 edition of SBIFF.

As luck would have it, I had bumped into SBIFF Operations Director Sean Pratt at the downtown Cajun Kitchen location a few days ago. With bated breath, Pratt seemed cautiously optimistic over the deployment of the high-end, “state-of-the-art” drive-in screens. Quite the understatement! Check ’em out….you’ll be glad you did!

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will continue through April 10th, 2021, online and with the two ocean-front drive-ins sponsored by TOYOTA. Tickets and passes are available at SBIFF.org.

 

Oscar-laden Nominees on SBIFF Industry Panels

Posted by Larry Gleeson

In addition to the A-list, Oscar-nominee-laden Tributes, and the well-curated film program, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Industry Panels are another key component of what makes the festival so special.  The Writers Panel is arguable the hottest ticket to come by followed closely by the Women’s Panel and the Producers Panel.

Producers Panel – Saturday April 3rd @ 11:00am
Writers Panel – Saturday April 3rd @ 2:00pm
Women’s Panel – Thursday April 8th @ 2:00pm
Panelists listed below!

The Producers Panel brings together some of the industry’s leading producers to provide insight into the business as well as the creative sides of producing. The Producers Panel will be a live-streamed event Saturday, April 3 @ 11:00am, moderated by Glenn Whipp. Panelists include:

Christina Oh (Minari)
Ceán Chaffin (Mank)
Dan Janvey (Nomadland)
David Parfitt (The Father)
Josey McNamara (Promising Young Woman)
Marc Platt (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Sacha Ben Harroche (Sound of Metal)
Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah)

The Writers Panel brings top writers together to converse about what it takes to write a script and about their journeys to the big screen. The Writers Panel will be a live-streamed event Saturday, April 3 @ 2:00pm, moderated by Anne Thompson. Panelists include:

Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Darius Marder (Sound of Metal)
Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)
Florian Zeller (The Father)
Kemp Powers (Soul)
Kenny and Keith Lucas (Judas and the Black Messiah)
Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)
Peter Baynham (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Ramin Bahrani (The White Tiger)

Women from all stages of film production come together to discuss the unique challenges they have faced and successes they have had in the film industry. The Women’s Panel will be a live-streamed event Thursday, April 8 @ 2:00 pm, moderated by Madelyn Hammond. Panelists include:

Dana Murray (Soul – Producer)
Elvira Lind (The Letter Room – Writer/Director)
Garret Bradley (Time – Director)
Kori Rae (Onward – Producer)
Madeline Sharafian (Pixar’s Burrow – Director)
Michele Couttolenc (Sound of Metal – Sound Design)
Tiara Thomas (Fight For You – Co-Writer Oscar nominated song from “Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Trish Summerville (Mank – Costume Design)

“Look at that line-up! All the movies nominated for the Oscars are represented.  The panels have always had a special place in our hearts, and this year’s slate is possibly the best ever!” commented Roger Durling, SBIFF‘s Executive Director.

Passes and tickets available at https://sbiff.org/

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will take place March 31st through April 10th, 2021, online and at two free ocean-front drive-in theatres.

INDUSTRY PANEL SERIES IS ANNOUNCED AT 2021 SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SANTA BARBARA, CA (March 31, 2021) – The 36th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is thrilled to announce this year’s panelists for the always riveting Industry Panel series.

In addition to the A-list, Oscar-nominee-laden Tributes, and the well-curated film program, the SBIFF Industry Panels are another key component of what makes the festival so special.  The Writers Panel is arguable the hottest ticket to come by followed closely by the Women’s Panel and the Producers Panel.

“Look at that line-up! All the movies nominated for the Oscars are represented. The panels have always had a special place in our hearts, and this year’s slate is possibly the best ever!” commented Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director.

The Producers Panel brings together some of the industry’s leading producers to provide insight into the business as well as the creative sides of producing. The Producers Panel will be a live-streamed event Saturday, April 3 at 11:00 am PT, moderated by the Los Angeles Times’ Glenn Whipp. Panelists include Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Christina Oh (Minari), Ceán Chaffin (Mank), Dan Janvey (Nomadland), David Parfitt (The Father), Josey McNamara (Promising Young Woman), Marc Platt (The Trial of the Chicago 7), and Sacha Ben Harroche (Sound of Metal)

The Writers Panel brings top writers together to converse about what it takes to write a script and about their journeys to the big screen. The Writers Panel will be a live-streamed event Saturday, April 3 at 2:00 pm PT, moderated by Indiewire’s Anne Thompson. Panelists include Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Darius Marder (Sound of Metal), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), Florian Zeller (The Father), Kemp Powers (Soul and One Night in Miami), Kenny and Keith Lucas (Judas and the Black Messiah), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Ramin Bahrani (The White Tiger), and Peter Baynham (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm).

Women from all stages of film production come together to discuss the unique challenges they have faced and successes they have had in the film industry. The Women’s Panel will be a live-streamed event Thursday, April 8 at 2:00 pm PT, moderated by Madelyn Hammond. Panelists include Dana Murray (Soul – Producer), Elvira Lind (The Letter Room – Writer/Director), Garret Bradley (Time – Director), Kori Rae (Onward – Producer), Madeline Sharafian (Pixar’s Burrow – Director), Michele Couttolenc (Sound of Metal – Sound Design), Trish Summerville (Mank – Costume Design), and Tiara Thomas (Fight For You – Co-Writer Oscar-nominated song from “Judas and the Black Messiah).

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will take place March 31st through April 10, 2021, online and at two free ocean-front drive-in theatres sponsored by Toyota. More information, festival passes, and tickets are available at www.sbiff.org.

*Featured image: Pre-festival screen checks in the lower Santa Barbara City College lots for the 2021 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

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 35 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ 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.

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.

(Press release provided by Michelle Tarangelo, SBIFF Press Office, )

April 5th at SBIFF: Variety’s seventh annual Artisans Awards

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Variety’s seventh annual Artisans Awards celebrating those essential to the filmmaking process and who have exhibited the most exciting and innovative work of the year in their respective fields will take place virtually at 6 P.M., April 5th, during the 36th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The event will be moderated by Variety’s Senior Artisans Editor Jazz Tangcay and the Variety Artisans Award will be presented to Alan Baumgarten, Nicolas Becker, Alexandra Byrne, Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale, Sean Faden, Mia Neal, Leslie Odom Jr., Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Joshua James Richards.

Alan Baumgarten for Netflix’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” sees the editor reunite with screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin. Baumgarten won an Emmy for his work on 2008’s “Recount.” He received an Academy Award nomination for 2013’s “American Hustle.”

Nicolas Becker earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Sound for his work on Amazon’s “Sound of Metal.”  Becker has over 263 credits which include “Arrival,” “Ex Machina” and “Gravity.

Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne has four Oscar nominations and won the Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work on 2008’s “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.” Byrne will be honored for her most recent work on the Focus Features release, “Emma” starring Anya Taylor Joy.

Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale are the teams behind “Mank’s” production design and set design. Together they transformed locations and sets for David Fincher’s Netflix drama which tells the story of how Herman J. Mankiewicz wrote the screenplay for “Citizen Kane.” Set during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Burt and Pascale recreated Hearst Castle and transformed modern-day studio backlots into days of Hollywood past.

Visual Effects Supervisor Sean Faden contributed to Disney’s “Mulan.” Faden along with the team at Weta Digital helped transform Gong Li into a witch and built some of the location shots for the film’s Imperial City.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” hair department head Mia Neal is on a solid path to making Oscar history if the Netflix contender lands a nomination for Hair and Makeup. Neal will be the first Black Oscar nominee in the category. Her previous credits include “Uncut Gems” and “The Longest Week.”

Grammy Award and Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom Jr. is a triple threat this season. He’s starring in “Hamilton” on Disney Plus and in Regina King’s “One Night in Miami” (Amazon) where he plays Sam Cooke. He’s also a contender in the original song category along with fellow songwriter Sam Ashworth. The two wrote “Speak Now” which plays over the film’s end credits.  They previously collaborated on Odom Jr.’s 2019 album “Mr.”

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will be honored for their work in two films, Netflix’s “Mank” and Pixar Animation’s “Soul”. The two won an Academy Award for their work on “The Social Network”.

Joshua James Richards for Fox Searchlight’s “Nomadland.” Richards has worked on short films such as “Boneshaker” and “Glory Days.” “Nomadland” marks his third collaboration with filmmaker Chloe Zhao. The two previously collaborated on “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” and “The Rider.”

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will take place March 31st through April 10th, 2021, online and at two free ocean-front drive-in theatres. More information, festival passes, and tickets are available at www.sbiff.org.