Category Archives: Tribute

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Wraps Its 37th Edition

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) has officially wrapped.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 12: A view outside the Arlington Theatre at the Closing Night Film “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on March 12, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

The 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG closed with a special screening of DIONNE WARWICK: DON’T MAKE ME OVER, with the iconic singer in attendance. The documentary followed Warwick as she smashed through cultural, racial, and gender barriers to become the soundtrack for generations and a voice fighting for humanitarian causes. Featured interviews with Burt Bachrach, Gladys Knight, Gloria Estefan, Snoop Dogg, Bill Clinton, and many more!

This year was the festival’s first-ever hybrid in-person/virtual format. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop the Phase Two Oscar juggernaut from featuring Hollywood’s top talent. Despite herculean efforts to claim the wildly heralded tributes and panels are only window-dressings for the film program, no one actually believed it.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 05: (L-R) Anne Thompson, Zach Baylin, Kenneth Branagh, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sian Heder, Adam McKay, Denis Villeneuve and Eskil Vogt appear onstage at the Writers Panel during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 5, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

For example, the Director’s Panel/Tribute honored all five Oscar-nominated directors: Paul Thomas Anderson (LICORICE PIZZA), Kenneth Branagh (BELFAST), Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (DRIVE MY CAR), and Steven Spielberg (WEST SIDE STORY).

But it was the American Riviera Award tributing Penelope Cruz that was the most evident example of the festival promoting Oscar talent. Passionate cinephilic SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling led the nearly two-hour-long conversation with Cruz sporting a red cape dress by Chanel. Durling lobbed a few well-placed “soft ball” questions and Cruz swatted them into the stratosphere as the audience was treated to several clips from Cruz’s exceptional filmography.  Undoubtedly, Cruz moved up into the top tier of the Best Actress category, and deservedly so. She is a major talent and her work in Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers is her most seasoned and mature performance to date.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 08: Penélope Cruz and SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling speak onstage at the Montecito Award Ceremony during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 8, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

Following Cruz’s conversation with Durling, she was treated to a surprise personal message from Sophia Loren. While presenting the award Loren told Cruz, “The day I met you on the set of Nine more than twelve years ago, I knew that you would be part of my life forever. I knew I found a sister, a daughter, a colleague, and a great, great friend.”

 

 

In juxtaposition to the Durling-led conversation, The Hollywood Reporter Awards Columnist, the affable Scott Feinberg, poked and prodded the boisterous and energetic Will Smith and the reserved and talented Aunjanue Ellis during the festival Outstanding Performers of the Year Tribute for their work in the Richard Williams biopic King Richard. Richard Williams is the father of tennis greats, Serena and Venus Williams. Smith is considered a front-runner for Best Actor as is Ellis for Best Supporting Actress.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 06: (L-R) Aunjanue Ellis, Will Smith, and Scott Feinberg speak onstage at the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award tribute during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 6, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Smith is seeing the competition heat up though with The Power of the Dog lead, the cerebral Benedict Cumberbatch, making a splash, and who, coincidentally, was at the festival receiving the SBIFF Cinema Vanguard Award presented by The Power of the Dog’s Oscar-nominated writer/director, Jane Campion! Campion lavishes high praise on Cumberbatch (see clip).

 

 

The Variety Artisan Awards, honoring those nominated for an Academy Award in below-the-line categories, the various panels, and the Virtuosos round out the festival’s Oscar-laden focus.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 12: (L-R) Madelyn Hammond , Lynn Harris, Jessica Kingdom, Elizabeth Mirzaei, Diane Warren, and Amber Richards attend the women’s panel during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on March 12, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

Not to take anything away from this year’s films put together by The Los Angeles Critic Association’s, Claudia Puig. Puig was determined to showcase more films representative of the greater Santa Barbara community.

 

A Place in the Field

 

Luckily, I had the good fortune to bend Puig’s ear on the sidewalk outside the Fiesta Five screening venue singing the praise of the directing debut of Nicole Mejia,  A Place In the Field, while thanking her for programming such a film directed by a woman,  produced primarily by a woman, and shot by a woman depicting a veteran dealing with unresolved war-time conflicts. Unabashedly, Puig communicated an Uber was arriving in two minutes and confided that there were a few last-minute additions worth checking out.

 

Nitram

 

Little did I know in that very moment, that one of the last films screening on Friday night in a slot up against the festival’s biggest and most prestigious award, the Maltin Modern Master Award honoring the Aaron Sorkin-penned, I Love Lucy leads, Nicole Kidman, and Javier Bardem would be the blistering backstory of the Australian Port Arthur Massacre on Tasmania, Nitram, featuring a monumental, “one for the ages” performance by Caleb Landry Jones as the lead Nitram (Martin spelled backward) for which he received Best Actor in Film from the illustrious Cannes Film Festival. Fortunately, a second screening occurred on Saturday afternoon. I did attend the second screening as I had watched virtually Leonard Maltin’s truncated performance on Friday evening with Kidman and Bardem.

 

Big Crow

 

Another film Puig brought forth was a Native film, Big Crow, a narrative documentary on the legend Cheryl Big Crow, a 1980’s standout basketball player and visionary of the Lakota people. Like many films this year, Big Crow did not feature a sold-out audience. Due to COVID and by design, fewer passes and diminished capacities were the norms with masks required along with proof of vaccination or negative test within the previous 72 hours to have a seat for any of the festival’s offerings.

A short-form documentary with vivid colors and a female subject matter, Fresh to Frightening: The Shannon Green Story, on Santa Barbara’s, world-renowned Yacht Racing photographer epitomized Puig’s determination to show more films representative of Santa Barbara. Fresh to Frightening s is “a kinetic and gorgeously shot documentary which captures the beauty and energy of sailing and yacht racing while it also introduces us to a dynamic woman and the art of her photography.” Indeed.

I can honestly say, I did not see a bad film. In reality, there were only two kinds of films this year – good and better!

Here are the award-winning films for the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy’s Róise and Frank (Mo ghrá buan)

Best Documentary Short Film Award: Jordan Matthew Horowitz’s LALITO 10

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film: Marilyn Cooke’s NO GHOST IN THE MORGUE (PAS DE FANTÔME À LA MORGUE)

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: Zacharias Kunuk’s THE SHAMAN’S APPRENTICE

Best Documentary Award: Jon-Sesrie Goff’s AFTER SHERMAN

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: Shawkat Amin Korki’s THE EXAM (EZMÛN)

Best Middle Eastern/Israeli Film Award: Dina Amer’s YOU RESEMBLE ME (TU ME RESSEMBLES)

Best Nordic/Dutch Film Award: Marianne Blicher’s MISS VIBORG

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: Martín Barrenechea and Nicolás Branca’s 9

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson’s SCARBOROUGH

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: Emma Macey-Storch’s GEETA

ADL Stand Up Award, sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, the Skinner Social Impact Fund, and Steve & Cindy Lyons: Jordan W. Barrow and Matt Edwards’s OUR WORDS COLLIDE.

The films were chosen by jury members Carlos Aguilar, Justine Bateman, Dupe Bosu, Julie Carmen, Annlee Ellingson, Tim Grierson, Beandrea July, Elizabeth Lo, Scott Mantz, Jose Novoa, Gil Robertson, Charles Solomon, Angie Wang, Steve Zahn, and Anthony & Annette Zerbe.

SBIFF’s Programming Director Claudia Puig.

“We are so thrilled to have had our slate of 200 films from 54 countries so well-received by festivalgoers. A few films even elicited standing ovations. We are very proud that filmmakers came from as far as Nepal, Iran, and Uganda–and many countries in between– to attend with their films. We thank all the wonderful filmmakers and our enthusiastic Santa Barbara audience for making this such a joyful return to theaters, and a celebration of terrific world cinema.” commented SBIFF’s Programming Director Claudia Puig.

In addition, the festival offered several free screenings and a few with Q&A’s  including:

The Power of the Dog and Q&A with Jane Campion

Licorice Pizza and Q&A with Paul Thomas Anderson and Alana Haim

Belfast

King Richard and a Q&A with Reinaldo Marcus Green and Aunjanue Ellis

Selena

Silver Linings Playbook and a Q&A with David O. Russell and editor Jay Cassidy

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

 

 

O’ Brother Where Art Thou? Twentieth Anniversary Music Tribute, 51st Nashville Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 51st Nashville Film Festival’s Special Presentation, O Brother Where Art Thou? Twentieth Anniversary Music Tribute presented by Variety and Peer Music, epitomizes “what the Nashville Film Festival is all about – the importance of film, music, and culture.” Those were the words echoed by the Nashville Film Festival’s Executive Director, Jason Padgitt, as he and Heather Cook, Nashville Film Festival’s Senior Music Event Producer, and Director, Marketing and Brands, peermusic, both introduced the hour and fifty-two-minute special presentation. In my experience, no truer words were ever spoken.

The film, O’ Brother Where Art Thou?, is a loose interpretation of the Homeric epic poem, The Odyssey. O’ Brother Where Art Thou? was directed and produced by the Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel,  and followed their 1990s films Fargo and The Big Lebowski. Fargo received critical acclaim earning the brothers an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay while The Big Lebowski received mixed reviews at release. But no one could have predicted what Entertainment Tonight (ET) had to say about O Brother Where Art Thou? As the film was released in January of 2000, ET claimed it was the worst film of the year. And, since it was a new decade, ET called it the worst film of the decade. And since it was a new century and new millennium….well, you get the idea.

Yet, over the years, the Coen Brothers’ film has become known as a film classic as it deals with racial tensions, poverty, the need for criminal justice reform, greedy evangelicals, and government overreach. In addition, O’ Brother Where Art Thou?, set in the Deep South during the Depression years, quickly turned the tables for the Americana movement musically. O’ Brother Where Art Thou?‘s music was drawn primarily from songs written in the 1920s and 1930s by the Carter family and other older folk songs that have stood the test of time. Surprisingly, the music was selected first (before filming) with Producer/songwriter T-Bone Burnett brought in to oversee the recording and consequently, the dubbing process. And, as history would have it, the genesis of the Americana folk music movement flashed across America’s screens with the soundtrack from O’ Brother Where Art Thou? Americana had always been in the ether but now it becomes official following the release of O’ Brother Where Art Thou? And, with the formation of the Americana Music Association Foundation in June of 2000, new music labels, careers, and performers were spawned.

To propel and heighten the Americana movement into the mainstream, the T-Bone Burnett produced soundtrack from O Brother took home Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammys. In addition, Dr. Ralph Stanley garnered Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “O Death,” and Harley Allen, Pat Enright, and Dan Tyminski (The Soggy Bottom Boys) captured Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” Moreover, at the Country Music Association Awards, the album took home the Album of the Year (the second soundtrack ever to do so) and Single of the Year Award for “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” O’ Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack also won the Academy of Country Music Awards’ Album of the Year and garnered Album of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year with Allison Krause and Gillian Welch on “I’ll Fly Away.” Interestingly, the album continues in popularity today as it has been streamed more than 200 million times since 2006 and has sold ten million album copies.

And, anyone who’s been to Nashville knows every singer/songwriter has a story behind the song he/she is about to sing. You can call it a part of Southern Hospitality. And, Dan Tyminski is no exception. Mr. Tyminiski was the first performer of the tribute and sat on a barstool and spoke about his rendition of  “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” and then proceeded to perform the song. The acoustics and recording system in the bar was excellent and later in the tribute, Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter Cash, Tiffany Anastasia Lowe, grandaughter of June Carter Cash, performed “Keep On The Sunny Side.” Carlene Carter mesmerized with her deep, compelling, and resonate voice. Other performances included Dualtone Records & peermusic Recording Artist Kathleen Edwards’ rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,”  Actor/musician Chris Thomas King performed “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” and “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby,” received the vocal excellence of Allison Krause, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris.

Left to right, Emmylou Haris, Gillian Welch, and Allison Krause performing “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby,” during O’ Brother Where Art Thou? Twentieth Anniversary Tribute screening virtually at the 51st Nashville Film Festival, October 1, 2020,

As wonderful as the performers were and are, it was the space in-between with conversations between Variety Executive Vice President, Global Content, Steven Gaydos led with T-Bone Burnett, with actors John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and George Clooney, with Emmylou Harris, with Actor/musician Chris Thomas King, with Elizabeth Ann Peer, Creative Administrator, peermusic and Peer Family Genealogist, with Rita Forrester, Granddaughter of A.P. and Sara Carter, and with Scott Robinson, CEO/Co-Founder, Dualtone music, that elevated the O’ Brother Where Art Thou? Twentieth Anniversary Music Tribute. A must-see selection!