The 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) presented by UGG has come and gone. With its many tributes, panels, forums, educational and free community programs, and films, this year’s festival offered a little something for everyone.
The festival opened with one of the most emotionally riveting first night films in recent memory as SBIFF Board member, Mimi deGruy, unveiled her film Deep Diving: The Life and Time s of Mike deGruy featuring her deceased husband’s treasure trove of underwater footage as well as delving into his passion and activism for the dark ocean water and its inhabitants.
Without missing a beat, the Breakfast Club (the nickname given by SBIFF Director Roger Durling for the first movies of the day starting at 8:00 AM) kicked off with The Biggest Little Farm, a beautifully constructed documentary that follows a young couple, John Chester, a writer and filmmaker, and his wife, Molly, a culinary writer, as they make the transition from urbanites to traditional farmers. The Biggest Little Farm was one of the festival darlings.
A personal favorite film of mine this year was the tragic, genre-bending Birds of Passage, a cartel film on the Northern Colombian Wayuu tribes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Filmmakers Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra weave together a tapestry of cultural artifacts with a Shakespearean-style delivery that accentuates the early beginnings of cartel life.
Yet, one of the most mesmerizing aspects of the festival was contained in the Nordic Cinema Sidebar. Harking back to Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg’s Dogme 95, a film movement orchestrated to compete with Hollywood’s domination of the industry, that focused filmmakers on story, acting and theme and away from special effects and “MTV style editing.” Their efforts seem to have come to fruition with In Love and War, winner of the coveted Audience Award for this year as well as winner of the formidable Nordic Cinema Competition.
First-time, feature-length, movie-maker/director, Vanessa Filho traveled in from Paris, France, with her deep, introspective work, Angel Face, featuring Marion Cotillard. A delightful presence at this year’s festival, Filho also participated in the Women Directors Forum, in addition to walking the red carpet at the Outstanding Performer of the Year tribute. I had the good fortune to sit with Filho in the Hotel Santa Barbara’s Garden Room shortly after her arrival for a brief interview.
Unfortunately, the one that got away, A Seed for Change, from one-man production team, Alexandros Ikonomidis, was a film about his experience in dealing with the financial crisis of 2008 and its life-altering, economic fallout. Due to pressing circumstances I could not attend screenings for this selection. However, I did communicate with Ikonomidis, albeit too late to see his film and its overriding themes of self-sufficiency and survival.
In addition to the traditional Opening Night and Closing Night Films, SBIFF has loaded several tributes into its Phase 2 Oscar cannon. This year had Rami Malek as its Outstanding Performer of the Year recognizing his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek is sweeping award ceremonies thus far and continues to be the front-runner for a Best Actor Oscar from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science later this month. We shall see!
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, will return for the 35th edition January 15 – 25, 2020. 200+ Films featuring over 120 World and US premieres, Industry Panels, Celebrity Tributes, and Educational and Free Community Programs will be held throughout Santa Barbara, including the Arlington and Lobero Theatres.
“We’re so grateful to all of our honorees, filmmakers, attendees, sponsors, press and volunteers for making the 34th edition our best yet. We’re adjusting our dates and we’re already looking forward to celebrating our 35th anniversary! – SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.
Also announced today were the award winning films for the 34th Festival at a breakfast held in their honor at Belmond El Encanto. All awards were announced, culminating in the coveted Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, which went to Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed). The films were chosen by jury members Anthony and Arnette Zerbe, David and Sandy Wasco, Joe Medjuck, Katharine O’Brien, Leslie Zemeckis, Margaret Lazarus, Olivia Hamilton, Paul Brickman, Roger Avary, and Tamara Asseyev.
Congratulations to ALL the Winners:
Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed)Best Documentary Short Film Award: Leslie Iwerks’s Selling Lies Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live Action Short Film: Christopher Wollebekk’s My Brother Amal (Min bror Amal) Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: Rachel Johnson’s Henrietta Bulkowski Best Documentary Awardsponsored by SEE International: Johnny Sweet’s Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: Bettina Oberli’s With the Wind (Le vent tourne) Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: Sam Friedlander’s Babysplitters Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: Celia Rico Clavellino’s Journey to a Mother’s Room (Viaje al cuarto de una madre) Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed) ADL Stand Up Award: Javier Fesser’s Champions (Campeones) Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei’s Laila at the Bridge
Three awards were handed out for short films. The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Christopher Wollebekk’s My Brother Amal (Min bror Amal). The Jury remarked “My Brother Amal displayed shining performances, brilliant directing and quite simply – it made us feel.“The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film went to Rachel Johnson’s Henrietta Bulkowski. The Jury awarded the film “for it’s inventive story, craft and heart – it is a film that sticks in your mind long after you see it.“ Best Documentary Short Film was awarded to Leslie Iwerks’s Selling Lies. The Jury called the film “eye opening and chilling, Selling Lies clarified, disturbed and shifted our perspective.”
Sponsored by SEE International, the Best Documentary Film Award went to Johnny Sweet’s Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story. The jury remarked that “The power of this Doc cannot be denied, a testament to it’s subject and all involved. The gathering of top notch Interviewees and historical footage, the editing, camera, sound, all make for perfectly paced and gripping film.”Bettina Oberli’s With the Wind (Le vent tourne) is the recipient of the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for Best International Film. The Jury remarked that “With extraordinary moments of natural life beautifully captured, and equal portions dystopic nightmare, director Bettina Oberli’s eulogy for luddite optimism acknowledges that only part of us is sane and wanting for creation, while simultaneously exists an opposing primal need to burn one’s own house down until the foundations are blackened.”
Sam Friedlander’s Babysplitters took home the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema. The Jury remarked that “Babysplitters was presented to the festival as a work in progress. Even so, we appreciated the strong comic timing, the good heart, and a slew of laugh-out-loud moments. With some editorial discipline, this has the potential to become a true comic treat.”
The Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema went to Celia Rico Clavellino’s Journey to a Mother’s Room (Viaje al cuarto de una madre). The Jury remarked that the film “A very delicately composed film. Beguilingly simple in it’s reach yet totally engrossing. Beautiful to look at, beautifully acted.”
The Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film was awarded to Kasper Torsting ‘s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed). The Jury remarked that the film “Intricate tale of the anguish of war. Totally unpredictable, highly original. Amazing Photography, editing and acting.”
Sponsored by Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties ADL, The ADL Stand Up Award went to Javier Fesser’s Champions (Campeones). “Campeones champions the value of inclusion, which is a touchstone of ADL’s worldwide effort to embrace diversity, to foster mutual respect, and to fight hate,” said Regional Director, Cyndi Silverman. “This is also a film about community,” she continued, “and we are thrilled for our community to see it.”
The Social Justice Award for Documentary Film went to Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei’s Laila at the Bridge. The jury remarked that “The filmmaker’s access to life and death events that unfolded right in front of our eyes, the personal force and dynamism of Laila fighting the powers that control money and drugs in Afghanistan on behalf of the addicts kept us riveted. Laila’s openness and deep understanding of addiction combined with the horror of the police keeping the addicts under a bridge and letting them die there was astounding.”
The Audience Choice Award sponsored by the Santa Barbara Independent went to Kasper Torsting’s In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed). 1917: A Danish soldier fighting under the German regime fakes his own death to escape the horrors in the trenches and return to his wife and son—only to find that everything has changed.
ABOUT THE SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 33 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.
Sponsors of the 34th SBIFF include: UGG®, Toyota Mirai, Belvedere Vodka, City of Santa Barbara, Amazon Studios, ADL, Montecito Bank & Trust, IMDbPro, Union Bank, Driscoll’s, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, Bentson Foundation, SEE International, Manitou Fund, Patagonia, Winchester Mystery House, Netflix, Mary Beth Riordan, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Volentine Family Foundation, and many more supporting through trade.
SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day.
Virtuosos Award presented to Sam Elliott, Claire Foy, John David Washington, and more
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (February 6, 2019) – The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) continued its tribute series with the presentation of the Virtuosos Award presented by Ugg, which recognizes a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue.
This year’s honorees included: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) Sam Elliott (A Star is Born), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) Claire Foy (First Man), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and Steven Yeun (Burning).
Prior to being presented with their awards, each honoree engaged in a one-on-one discussion with Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger. The one-on-one discussions were followed by a panel discussion, also moderated by Karger.
The evening was full of warmth and laughter and the the utmost appreciation for legend Elliott, who received a standing ovation upon taking the stage.
The most memorable moment of the evening took place during the full panel when Karger asked each honoree to name an actor with whom they feel they would have an amazing rapport. Washington immediately responded with “Beyoncé,” put down the microphone, and pretended to walk away. The entire panel and audience broke out into laughter. After a few moments of contemplation, Yeun, Grant, Foy, Fisher, and McKenzie decided to give the same answer as Washington. Elliott, however, continued to hold out and when he gave his answer it caught everyone by surprise. “I’d like to work with Claire Foy,” he finally said. The audience cheered and applauded and Foy exclaimed with a smile, “Good god. Oh my god. I actually think I’m blushing.
Actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award.
Additional highlights from the evening include:
Steven Yeun on the ambiguity of Burning:
When asked about people’s reactions to the film – particularly the ending, which is very ambiguous – Yeun told Karger: “To me Director Lee’s films have always been a way of reflecting the world back at the viewer. I think what we were all trying to go for was an openness…to tell you a story that you kind of direct, that you impose what these people are and what they did.”
John David Washington on how he came to work with Spike Lee:
Washington recounted how Spike reached out to him with the project out of the blue. “It was almost like we were working already,” he mused. “I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize, and it read, ‘Yo this Spike. Call me.’”
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie on acting:
McKenzie spoke at length about acting as a profession, which included noting how: “It’s not just putting on a performance; it’s not faking; it’s being; it’s sharing true emotions; and it’s an opportunity to make a difference and to tell really important stories.”
Richard E. Grant on working with Melissa McCarthy:
Grant said it took “3.5 nanoseconds” for him to know that working with Melissa McCarthy would be great. “We met on a Friday, two years ago in New York in January, and we had two hours together to talk through the scenes in the movie,” he recalled. “I asked her if she was a method actress and she said no; and she said, are you a method actor, and I said no. So we started talking about wigs, and teeth, and costumes, and where our characters lived, and grew up, and what their sex lives were, and then we’re off and running.” He joked: “We started shooting on a Monday and she’s have my twins in August.”
Claire Foy (First Man) on channeling emotion while acting:
“I feel that I never want to cheapen someone’s real life experience,” she told Karger. Instead of thinking back to a moment in her own life in order to channel a particular type of emotion into a scene, Foy asserted: “I find it moving enough or heartbreaking enough to just think about what someone was going through.”
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) on eighth grade vs tenth grade:
Fisher filmed Eighth Grade immediately following her actual eighth grade year in school. She is now in tenth grade and when asked what a film about tenth grade might look like, she contemplated: “Eighth grade is kind of just chaos – it’s like war. But tenth grade is like two summers after the war, where you can still have PTSD from it but you’re a little cooler now.”
Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) on realizing the scope of his role in the final version of the film:
Elliott didn’t realize how substantial his role was in the film until he saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Prior to the screening in Toronto, he had seen a second assembly where, in his own words, “the relationship between Stefani and Bradley was fully blown, the music was fully developed, but the supporting cast really had gotten hit hard in the edit.” Upon seeing the film in Toronto, Elliott recalled: “That was one of the things that got me. Oh, I really am in this movie.”
Stay tuned for more on the hottist ticket in town, the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Glenn Close receives Modern Maltin Masters Award, Melissa McCarthy receives Montecito Award, and the women of Hollywood speak out
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (February 4, 2019) – The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) kicked off the fifth day of the festival with the Womens’ Panel moderated by Madelyn Hammond, followed by honoring Oscar Nominee Glenn Close for The Wife with the Maltin Modern Master Award and Melissa McCarthy with the Montecito Award for Can You Ever Forgive Me? The women came out in full force on Sunday.
Hammond, producer of Deadline’s Contenders events, moderated the phenomenal Women’s Panel which consisted of nine Oscar nominated females including Louise Bagnall, writer-director of the animated short Late Afternoon; Hannah Beachler, production designer for Black Panther; Nina Hartstone, sound editor on Bohemian Rhapsody; Ai-Ling Lee, a double nominee for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing on First Man; Domee Shi, director of Pixar’s animated short Bao; Marina de Tavira, Best Supporting Actress for Roma; Lynette Howell Taylor, Producer of Best Picture nominee A Star Is Born; Betsy West, director of the Feature Documentary RBG; and Rayka Zehtabchi, recent USC graduate and among Oscar’s youngest nominees as Director for the documentary short Period. End of Sentence.
From a 500 page bible Hannah Beachler built to create the Wakanda civilization, a high school project turned short documentary by Rayka Zehtabchi and resounding applause for Betsy West when discussing RBG, the women of hollywood brought laughs and serious insight to an awestruck crowd. Gender disparity and female discrimination was a hot topic in which all the women noted the need for expanding the landscape of females in the industry and Lynette Howell-Taylor and West continuing to discuss the importance of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
After yesterday’s postponement due to weather conditions, SBIFF was finally able to welcome The Wife actress Glenn Close for a special tribute and award presentation. Film critic Leonard Maltin led a career retrospective discussion with Close and at its conclusion she was presented with the Maltin Modern Master Award.
Highlights from the conversation with Close include:
Maltin described Close as “one of the greatest actresses on the planet” and also said “I don’t think there is any facet of show business that she hasn’t attempted and succeeded at.”
Close was greeted with an enthusiastic and lengthy standing ovation when she came onstage at the beginning of the program.
About 12-13 minutes into the interview, Close’s dog Pip ran on-stage to join her. When Pip showed up, Maltin remarked, “You’re about to be upstaged.” The audience was very amused and there were a lot of “ooohs,” “awws,” and applause. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE CLIP.
Close on The Wife:
The film almost didn’t get made – it took the producers 14 years to get the money together and Close was attached for 5 years.
Novel was written by Meg Wolitzer and Jane Anderson adapted it into a screenplay.
When she received the script she thought it was interesting and unlike other things that she’s done before so she said that they could put her name on the project and see how that could help.
She met with Bjorn Runge (accomplished Swedish director who had not yet made an English language film) and “there was something about him that I really really liked.”
They had to wait to wait another year because Bjorn got sick and they decided to wait for him rather than attach a new director.
“I think of him as a total collaborator in my performance because he trusted the close-up, he knew where to put the camera, and he knew how to light our faces. My performance ‘The Wife,’ a lot of it is just in close-up, and without his wonderful instinct about that I don’t think it would have had the impact that it has.”
She had never worked with Jonathan Pryce before this film.
The film was made in the late fall of 2016, before the #MetToo movement, premiered at TIFF, Sony bought it and then decided to hold a year before releasing it.
Close on “Fatal Attraction”:
She did more research for this role than any other character she has ever played.
She read the script in one sitting and she auditioned for the part.
When she got the part she took the script to two psychiatrists because she wanted to know if the behavior of the character was possible and what would cause it.
She has a foundation that combats the stigma around mental illness and when she mentioned it during the conversation, the audience responded with applause.
“I ended up with great compassion and empathy for that character.”
The background that was created for the character was that she was incested by her father over many years and Close studied what that meant in order to prepare for the role.
People were so upset by the original ending (where Close’s character kills herself and Michael Douglas’ character goes to jail because his fingerprints are on the knife) that the studio decided to re-shoot it, much to Close’s dismay.
She fought against the re-shoot for two weeks and recounted how she expressed her frustration to director Adrian Lyne, producer Stanley Jaffe, and co-star Douglas — “What if they did it to your character? What if they did it to you? What would you say? What would you say?” Douglas, she recalls, responded by saying “Babe, I’m a whore.” This anecdote garnered a hearty laugh.
She also called William Hurt for advice because she felt like she was betraying the character by making “her into somebody that would kill somebody.” He told her that she put up the fight but if the studio isn’t budging then “you owe it to the company and to the director and to your fellow actors to go ahead with it.”
Looking back Close said she realizes the studio was right because, “After such a disturbing film, the audience needed catharsis.”
“It’s a very American ending.”
Close on costumes:
“I consider the costume designer of anything I’m doing a full collaborator – as important as the director.”
“It really helps me to put together the character together in my mind.”
She has kept her costumes since “The World According to Garp,” and the living collection / archive is housed in a facility at Indiana University for students. The collection also includes some of her red carpet looks.
Close on “Reversal of Fortune”:
It was one of the best script she ever read.
“Everything for me begins with what I read on the page.”
“It was so clever and so original to have someone in a coma narrate a film.”
As she prepared for the part, Close was unable to speak with anyone who actually knew Sunny Von Bülow.
“I think the script, as brilliant as it is, was written very much from a man’s point-of-view and you don’t really get under the skin of Sunny. It’s more reacting to her behavior. I always wondered if I was able to talk to people that knew her, how that would change my performance.”
Close also recounted a hilarious anecdote about how after the film opened, she walked into the Ivory Restaurant in London one day and heard a voice say, “I was Jeremy Irons’ understudy.” And it turned out that the voice belonged to Klaus Von Bülow. Upon hearing this story, Maltin remarked, “That’s a tough one to top.”
Close on what she wants from a director:
She said she wants a director to provide her with “the assurance and atmosphere…to try things that might be different.”
“It’s kind of fascinating that a lot of directors don’t really get what actors do and feel that the only way to direct them is to manipulate them.” She doesn’t like directors like that and doesn’t think that great directors do that.
“Albert Nobbs” director Rodrigo Garcia admitted to Close that he was afraid of rehearsal because he had never had them before. “He said a lot of directors are afraid of rehearsal because they think they’ll see the actor do exactly what he wants and then they’ll never be able to do it again.”
Close on Cruella de Vil:
She loved fairy tales and the Disney witches.
She said that Cruella is a “classic witch.”
“I was thrilled because I thought, that puts me in a great tradition.”
“I worked very hard — it was a John Hughes script — and I felt very strongly that she wasn’t mean enough. That they were trying to water her down.”
In the original cartoon, Cruella was mean so Close got permission to pull lines from the cartoon when she constructed the character for the live action version.
Close on “Damages”:
In asking her about “Damages,” Maltin noted that the show came before A-list movie actors would do television as regularly as they do now.
Before “Damages” she had done a season on the FX show “The Shield” and it was great.
Close insisted that she has always believed in television because her second onscreen credit was a television movie called “Something About Amelia.” The film dealt with the issue of incest and she filmed it right after “The World According to Garp.” When her agent told her that the TV movie would ruin her film career, Close remarked, “Well the English do it, why can’t we?”
Close on “Albert Nobbs”:
She spent 20 years with the role – first performed it off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
She learned mime for the role.
“The character just stayed with me.”
It took 14 years to bring the film together.
Because so much time passed between originating the role on the stage and the start of production on the film, Close had to make sure that she was still right to take on the role because she said, “At this point I was afraid that my face would get in the way.” She thought to herself, “How can I play this character if all they can see is Glenn Close?”
She went to special effects makeup artist Matthew Mungle for a solution.
“The fact that so much time had gone, I think made the ultimate Albert so much deeper and richer and heartbreaking.”
Close thinks that not enough people saw the film because it was released at the wrong time of year.
Close on producing:
“Sarah, Plain and Tall” was the first thing that she produced.
“A lot of it is to create roles for myself. It sounds selfish, but if you’re not getting them then go and create them.”
“You should never sit around and wait for the phone to ring. You should be out there with your iPhone, with whatever it is, creating stuff that is your voice.
SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling asked Close to accept the award in honor of his father, who was a huge fan and took Roger to see her performances on the stage in New York ever since the 1970s.
Close was very moved when she accepted the award. “I am very, very blessed to be able to do the thing that I love most in the world,” she told the audience afterwards. “I’m standing up here representing all the people that have been my collaborators all these years. I would not be here without them. I am deeply, deeply grateful to you, who have gone to see my work and are here today. It means a tremendous amount to me. And I am so touched to have this award with Leonard’s name on it — a man who has given so much to our industry, who is one of the greats.”
For a few brief moments during her speech, Pip once again managed to steal the spotlight when he decided to roll around on the ground in front of the podium (much to everyone’s amusement).
Later that evening, a sold out and lively crowd greeted Can You Ever Forgive Me?’s Melissa McCarthy as she entered the stage to receive the Montecito Award. McCarthy sat in conversation with IndieWire Editor at Large, Anne Thompson, to discuss her beginnings on stage, what she learned from her time at Groundlings, and her future behind the camera.
Some highlights from the evening included:
When discussing her early days on comedy stages McCarthy discussed how she “never walked into a room where a guy didn’t tell me, ‘Take your shirt off!’ and they are just yelling. They would keep yelling until you have to embarrass them but then you spend four of your five minutes eviscerating them.”
Before hitting it big, McCarthy recounts how she worked as a nanny and a waitress in both New York and Los Angeles.
On her early work:
“What happened to my voice” McCarthy exclaimed after a series of clips played on the screen from Go, Charlie’s Angels, and The Nines. “My voice was so high. It’s like I’ve been smokin Paul Malls all these years.”
McCarthy credited friend Jennifer Cooling for making a call to a casting agent to get her seen for her first gig for which she ended up getting the part, and an agent following.
On Gilmore Girls:
Reminiscing on how “Sookie” was originally to be played by Alex Borstein who was contractually obligated to MadTV at the time, McCarthy is still in awe that her first job lasted for seven years.
“I really loved doing that show. It was such a great group of people. I felt really lucky to be a part of something like that.”
On Bridesmaids and working with Kristen Wiig:
When reading for the part with Kristen for Judd Apatow and PaulFeig, “Kristen and I were improvising so much in the room and Paul and Judd were in awe. At some point I started talking about dolphin play.” The crowd erupted in laughter.
“Everyday of that movie was heaven.”
Thompson and McCarthy dove deep into one of the most memorable scenes from that film
I don’t think we knew what we were doing while it was happening. It was like oatmeal with like some ketchup in it and somebody was like, ‘does this vomit look ok?’ And I have this picture of Paul like pouring it on me and I was like ‘we are being professional.’”
“None of us wanted it to be the gross out scene but we all started talking about how embarrassing it would be while you are trying to maintain your dignity and everyone’s body is disintegrating in front of you. It became about us bonding in the weirdest possible way.”
On The Hangover:
When speaking on her scene in the pawn shop with Bradley Cooper, “I thought I wonder if anyone has ever just shunned him off like this. I thought, this is probably good for him.”
Working with Zack Galifianakis: “That’s kind of like Zack. It just kinda happened. It wasn’t written as being that cruel to the woman that was playing my mother. Once the gloves are off and everyone is ready to go for it, if you go too far your director will protect you and not use it but every now and then you go hard and it works.”
On producing and directing:
“I like the building of a project from the beginning up as much as I like being in front of the camera.”
“You have to really fight for good material. I kept saying why is every part such a bummer. Can I just have a point of view? Can I be more than bland? I don’t know how to play pleasant.”
“I like the person that you see walking through the grocery store and you’re like ‘well today is purple huh.’ You’re on your own beat. Those are the characters I fall in love with.”
“I am ready to direct. I did some Mike and Molly’s and I did a short for the Oscars and I loved it. I would like to not be in it. I just want to be there and concentrate on the people in it.”
McCarthy’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? co-star Richard E. Grant presented the award and began his presentation with a google translation of the meaning of McCarthy, loving. “I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have loving words to say about her.” McCarthy accepted her award giving thanks to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for “shining a light on these types of movies.”
The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) continued with the annual Producers and Writers Panels, as well as a special tribute to actor Viggo Mortensen.
Heavy rain throughout Santa Barbara County impacted traffic conditions and ultimately resulted in some changes to the scheduled programming, but the show still went on.
Moderated by Glenn Whipp from the Los Angeles Times, the Producers Panel featured Jim Burke (“Green Book”), Bill Gerber (“A Star is Born”), and Raymond Mansfield (“BlacKkKlansman”) as panelists. Discussion topics included what it takes to be a producer, saying “no,” awards season, the Academy’s popular film award, diversity, and advice for aspiring producers.
Next up, Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”), Kevin Willmott (“BlacKkKlansman”), and Will Fetters (“A Star is Born) participated in the Writers Panel, which was moderated by Anne Thompson from Indiewire. Over the course of the conversation, Schrader, Willmott, and Fetters covered a wide range of topics including their path to becoming a screenwriter, writing the most difficult scene in their respective films, endings, best work practices, the state of the industry, and upcoming projects.
The tribute for Mortensen consisted of an in-depth career retrospective discussion with Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond, and concluded with Mortensen’s longtime friend and collaborator Ed Harris presenting the actor with the American Rivera Award.
During his introductory remarks for the tribute, SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling thanked Santa Barbara Aviation and owner/pilot Max Rosenberg for their help getting Mortensen and Harris to the event, as the road closures would have most likely prevented them from getting into Santa Barbara via traditional routes.
Upon taking the stage, Mortensen was greeted with a standing ovation and he immediately thanked the audience for their patience.
Some highlights from the conversation that followed include:
Mortensen on his love for soccer:
Note: During his introduction, Pete Hammond recounted an amusing anecdote of how he moderated what turned out to be a “beautiful Q&A” with Mortensen — all while Mortensen watched a soccer game on a laptop that he brought with him onstage.
“I find it dramatic.”
“I like seeing how people behave when things go well and things go badly. How do people behave when they win? How do people behave when they lose? That is inherently dramatic to me. How do you overcome a deficit, and if you don’t, are you a good loser or are you a good winner?”
Mortensen on how he decided to become an actor:
He came to the realization “relatively late” — when he was 21/22.
He started educating himself about cinema by going to revival movie houses where they would show films by Ozu, Bresson, Dryer, Bergman, etc..
In the process he came across quite a few “spellbinding performances” (i.e. “that transported me”) and that made him consider: “I just wondered what the trick was — how do these actors makes me feel that that is so real?”
Mortensen on the early days of his acting career:
He recounted how he was cut out of films like Woody Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo” and Jonathan Demme’s “Swing Shift,” before he finally appeared in “Witness.”
“After some decades you look back and there seems to be some kind of order to your life, right? I would say that I was lucky that I did lots of small parts in plays, TV, movies, and many hundreds of auditions where you get close but you don’t get the part. But you’re practicing. You’re practicing all the time. You’re practicing working with different people each time, and you’re learning what is probably the two most important things I think for an actor, which is to be flexible — to deal with all kinds of personalities and requirements and obstacles — and to listen, to pay attention — because the only way you’re going to be flexible really is well, what is coming my way now, I can’t do the same thing every time.”
Mortensen on working with great directors:
“I always look at the script first.”
“It’s story, the role, and then who is directing. If I don’t get past the first two then it doesn’t matter who is directing.”
Mortensen on David Cronenberg:
Note: During this part of the conversation, Hammond referred to Mortensen as Cronenberg’s muse during this part of the conversation.
“ I just felt like I was in sync with him from the first day of ‘History of Violence.’”
“It’s astounding to me that David Cronenberg, in nearly half-a-century of making movies — he’s probably made, I would say conservatively, at least 8 movies that could, and should have easily been nominated for an Academy Award.”
Mortensen on the “Lord of the Rings” films and fans:
He believes that the LOTR films opened the door for him to do films like “A History of Violence” and “Appaloosa”
“It’s wonderful when anybody relates to your work or to the story you’re in because that is essentially why I got into it. I was relating in that way to what I was watching. I was fascinated with it and curious and you do get really good questions from people.”
He also related a fun anecdote about how he broke his tooth while filming the 2nd installment (“The Two Towers”) and then went into town (dressed in his costume) to get his tooth fixed by Peter Jackson’s dentist.
The extended version of the first film is Mortensen’s favorite of the three because it involved the most human to human contact (not as much CG as the later films), and it was the closest to Tolkien’s actual words.
Mortensen on fight choreographer Bob Anderson:
Note: During this part of the conversation, Hammond said that Bob Anderson remarked that Mortensen was “without a doubt one of the best he had ever seen” when it came to sword work.
He got to work with Anderson on the LOTR films and “Alatriste.”
He shared an anecdote where Bob Anderson managed to best a very skilled fencer without much effort. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
Mortensen on “The Road”:
“I just loved the book and that’s why I wanted to do it.”
“It’s not that far-fetched that movie. Every year it’s less far-fetched unfortunately.”
He reference climate change as one of the reasons why the premise of “The Road” is not that far-fetched.
“It’s very moving and I like characters that are tested.”
He shared an anecdote about how he helped convince Coca Cola to allow the production to use a can in a key scene. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
Mortensen on acting:
“The foundation of good acting is good reacting.”
He said the reasons that the scenes in “Green Book” are so funny is because of how Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) reacts.
“I’ve had so many good opportunities. I’ve been in so many good stories. Sue me if I complain about anything.”
Mortensen on “Green Book”:
He praised Peter Farrelly’s direction, saying that the film places Farrelly in the same league as Preston Sturges, Frank Capra, and Bill Wilder.
He remarked that one of the best results of the film has been that it has helped people discover/re-discover the music of Don Shirley.
Melissa McCarthy will receive the prestigious MontecitoAward at the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. McCarthy will be feted for her starring role in the critically acclaimed feature Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a Fox Searchlight Pictures release. Given to a person in the entertainment industry who has made a great contribution to film, the award will be presented to her at a ceremony on Sunday, February 3, 2019 at the historic Arlington Theatre.
“Melissa McCarthy – always a compelling talent – triumphs as Lee Israel in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME,” says SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. “She’s funny, dark, caustic and oh so vulnerable. SBIFF is so pleased to be able to award this performance and her career so far.”
McCarthy is currently starring in the acclaimed filmCan you Ever Forgive Me? in a dramatic breakout performance. Her upcoming feature films are the comedy Superintelligence directed by Ben Falcone and the drama The Kitchen alongside Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish. Her previous film work includes The Boss, Spy, St. Vincent, Life of the Party, Tammy, The Heat, Identity Thief, This is 40, and Ghostbusters. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Bridesmaids, along with BAFTA and Critics Choice Award nominations, and won the MTV Award for Best Comedic Performance. McCarthy’s television credits include the beloved character ‘Sookie St. James’ in the critically acclaimed series Gilmore Girls. She went on to star in Mike and Molly, for which she won a Lead Actress Comedy Emmy Award, and in 2017 she won a Guest Actress Comedy Emmy Award for her Saturday Night Live portrayal of then Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Past recipients of the award include Saoirse Ronan, Isabelle Huppert, Sylvester Stallone, Daniel Day Lewis, Julianne Moore, Javier Bardem among others and this year the SantaBarbara International FilmFestival will be back for its 34th year honoring Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner) with the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film and celebrating Glenn Close (The Wife) with the Maltin Modern Master Award.
The 34th annual SantaBarbara International FilmFestival will run through Saturday, February 9th.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Arlington Theatre SantaBarbara, CA
Glenn Close is set to receive the prestigious MaltinModern Master Award at the 34th annual SantaBarbara International FilmFestival. Close will be honored this afternoon, at 3:00 PM, February 3rd, for her longstanding contributions to the film industry, most recently gracing the silver screen in Sony Pictures Classics’ The Wife. Leonard Maltin will return for his 28th year to moderate the evening.
Glenn Close is one of the great actresses of our time. Versatility is her hallmark, and there is clearly nothing she can’t do. She became a star with her first feature film, The World According to Garp, and has gone on to play everyone from Cruella de Vil to aging silent-film star Norma Desmond in the stage musical of Sunset Blvd. I can’t wait to spend an evening with her onstage at the Arlington Theater,” states Maltin.
Directed by Berlin Silver Bear-winner Björn Runge, The Wife is adapted by Jane Anderson from the Meg Wolitzer novel of the same name. After nearly forty years of marriage, JOAN and JOE CASTLEMAN (Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce) are complements: Where Joe is brash, Joan is shy. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. Where Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as Great American Novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm, and diplomacy into the private role of Great Man’s Wife, keeping the household running smoothly, the adult children in close contact, and Joe’s pills dispensed on schedule. At times, a restless discontentment can be glimpsed beneath Joan’s smoothly decorous surface, but her natural dignity and keen sense of humor carry her through the rough spots. The Wife debuted in theaters this summer.
The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the MaltinModern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. Past recipients include Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.
The 34th annual SantaBarbara International FilmFestival will run through Saturday, February 9th.
Saturday, February 2, 2019
Santa Barbara, CA
Viggo Mortenson is set to receive the illustrious AmericanRiviera Award on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019. Mortenson will be recognized for his many attributes to the art of film over the years, and most recently, his work in Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures’ Green Book.
“Viggo is one of the steadiest acting forces in cinema and one of its greatest chameleons,” says Santa Barbara International Film Festival Executive Director, Roger Durling. “As Tony Lip in Green Book, he delivers the capstone to his remarkable career. He encapsulates the AmericanRiviera Award. We greatly admire and love him.”
Directed by Peter Farrelly and set against the backdrop of a country grappling with the valor and volatility of the Civil Rights Movement, the film is inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line. When Frank Anthony Vallelonga, aka Tony Lip (Mortensen), a New York City bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in The Bronx, is hired to drive and protect Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on The Green Book — a travel guide to safe lodging, dining and business options for African Americans during the era of segregation and Jim Crow laws — to steer them to places where Shirley will not be refused service, humiliated, or threatened with violence.
The AmericanRiviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Mortenson will join the list of previous recipients which includes Sam Rockwell, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Tommy Lee Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane.
Rami Malek arrived in Santa Barbara amidst a light rain making his way to a busy red carpet and getting under cover.
Tom Donahue of ‘This Changes Everything’ on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Lisa G. Black of ‘The Bird Catcher” on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Jo Juarez, Nic Davis and Tim Williams of ‘Enormous: The Gorge Story’ on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Arthur Hakalahti of ‘The Bird Catcher” on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Vanessa Filho of ‘Angel Face’ on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Vanessa Filho of ‘Angel Face’ on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Trond Morten Kristensen of ‘The Bird Catcher” on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Lucy Boynton of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Ross Clarke, left, and Jakob Cedersen of ‘The Bird Catcher” on the red carpet at the during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
The uber-talented Malek, gracious and eloquent, posed for pictures and brief interviews before taking the stage with The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California, last night, February 1st.
In what might have been Feinberg’s best tribute conversation, The Hollywood Reporter Awards Columnist, showed his knowledge of Malek’s work and personal life while gently nudging Malek. Slowly, Malek began to open up and the enthusiastic crowd warmed up with more than one female voice calling out their love for the honoree.
Malek continued his steady composure sharing his experience in his auditions and with his directors with humor and a steadfast commitment to his craft. After watching several clips and the audience hanging on every Malek word, Feinberg addressed “the elephant in the room,” which turned out to be the firing of Bryan Singer as Director of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Out of his respect and admiration for Freddie Mercury and the band, Queen, Malek preferred to keep the attention and focus on them.
Malek accepted the award presented by friend and actor Joseph Mazzello. Malek seemed a little pensive afterwards as he thanked the audience and exited stage right with Mazzello. Seems as though we haven’t heard the last from Rami Malek….
First-time U.S. feature directorial debut for French filmmaker Vanessa Filho
French filmmaker Vanessa Filho is making her U.S. premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with Angel Face (Gueule d’ange), starring powerhouse French actress, Marion Cotillard, Alban Lenoir and introducing “the little miracle,” Ayline Aksoy-Etaix. Angel Face made its world premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Filho to discuss her film. Vanessa’s poise is extraordinary and her film is one of the most heady, realistic films about an eight-year old girl and her mother as both long for love in a world where finding acceptance is difficult.