Update: Day 5 Highlights from the Santa Barbara Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close
Glenn Close speaks onstage at the Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

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.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Women's Panel
Pictured left to right; Madelyn Hammond, Louise Bagnall, Hannah Beachler, Nina Hartstone, Lynette Howell, Ai-Ling Lee, Domee Shi, Marina de Tavira, Betsy West amd Rayka Zehtabchi speak onstage at the Women’s Panel during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Lobero Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

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.

 

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close
Leonard Maltin, left, and Glenn Close speak onstage at the Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

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).

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy, left, and Anne Thompson speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

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 Paul Feig, “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.”
34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy, left, and Richard E. Grant speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

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.”

sbiff poster

(Source: Press release from sbiff.org)

‘KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE’ WINS FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD AT 2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Los AngelesSundance Institute today announced Knock Down the House as the winner of the Festival Favorite Award, selected by audience votes from the 121 features screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, which took place in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, Utah from January 24 through February 3. The Festival Favorite is the 29th and final recognition bestowed on this year’s Features, including juried prizes and category-specific Audience Awards; others were announced at a ceremony in Park City on February 2 and a full list is available here. Runners-up and other strong contenders for the Festival Favorite Award included Ask Dr. Ruth, The Biggest Little Farm, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and Blinded by the Light.

Knock Down the House, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, follows four women political candidates from around the country – a young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri – during the 2018 mid-term elections as they took to the campaign trail, built and engaged their bases, and built a movement. The film was directed by Rachel Lears and produced by Lears, Sarah Olson and Robin Blotnick.

John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival, said, “This film is a timely and powerful portrait of bold, risk-taking women, all from very different backgrounds and communities, and we knew it would resonate with and inspire audiences.” Ballots distributed at each screening were counted as the Festival Favorite Award determination.

Runners-up for the Festival Favorite, as ballots were counted, included:

Ask Dr. Ruth / U.S.A. (Director: Ryan White, Producers: Rafael Marmor, Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Christopher Leggett) — A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

The Biggest Little Farm / U.S.A. (Director: John Chester, Screenwriters: Mark Monroe, John Chester, Producers: Sandra Keats, John Chester) — Two dreamers and a dog embark on an odyssey to bring harmony to their lives and the land. As their plan to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns, they will have to reach a far greater understanding of the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and life itself.

Other strong-showing audience favorites included:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Producers: Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan) — Against all odds, a thirteen year old boy in Malawi invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine. Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Aissa Maiga, Joseph Marcell.

Blinded by the Light / United Kingdom (Director: Gurinder Chadha, Screenwriters: Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Producers: Gurinder Chadha, Jane Barclay, Jamal Daniel) — In 1987 during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Cast: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 23 through February 2, 2020.

The Sundance Film Festival®

The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2019 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, YouTube; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, AT&T, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom, Stella Artois; Sustaining Sponsors – Ancestry, Canada Goose, Canon, Dell, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, High West Distillery, IMDbPro, Lyft, RIMOWA, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, VARIETY, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home.

 

SBIFF reaches halfway point and shows no signs of letting up

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival has reached the halfway point and shows no signs of letting up.

Opening Night-1
Outside the Arlington Theatre before the Opening Night Film Diving Deep:The Life And Times Of Mike deGruy at 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festiva on January 31, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Beginning with a local flavor, Opening Night featured Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy, from Mike’s wife, Mimi deGruy. Mike deGruy was legendary in his passion for life and his love of the ocean. Fortunately, Mimi shared his passion and love and constructed an emotionally moving call-to-action with Diving Deep setting the tone for this year’s festival.

 

Vanessa Filho-1-3
Sylvia Earle, left, and Mimi deGruy on the red carpet before the Opening Night Film Diving Deep:The Life And Times Of Mike deGruy during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on January 31, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

With numerous sidebars, panels, forums, public screenings, children’s screenings and tributes, the Santa Barbara community is once again drawn together to celebrate community. Filmmaker Isaac Hernandez organized an opus on the spirit and energy of Santa Barbarans with Better Together. In a Q & A following his premiere screening, Hernandez unabashedly expressed, “I love Santa Barbara and I wanted to make a film about the place I love.”

Filmmakers from around the globe descended to the city of St. Barbara. First-time feature-length film director/writer Vanessa Filho came directly from Paris, France with her Angel Face featuring the Oscar-winning, French leading lady, Marion Cotillard, to premiere her work to the United States.

Ross Clarke ventured in from Norway to make a world premiere with The Bird Catcher, an early audience favorite, screening in the Nordic Film Sidebar. With Ross came an ensemble of cast members.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Outstanding Performer Award Honoring Rami Malek
Left to right; Trond Morten Kristensen, Lisa G Black, Arthur Hakalahti, Ross Clarke and Jakob Cedergren of “The Bird Catcher’ on the red carpet before the Outstanding Performer Award Honoring Rami Malek during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

As predicted the Writer’s Panel sold out again this year. The Women’s Panel, the Producers Panel, the Variety Artisan Awards have all been conducted and completed. Anyone who missed these will have to wait until next year.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Women's Panel
Ai-Ling Lee, Domee Shi and Marina de Tavira speak onstage at the Women’s Panel during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Lobero Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

Tributes to Rami Malek, Viggo Mortensen, Glenn Close and Melissa McCarthy were all well-attended and audiences continue to wholeheartedly express their admiration and gratitude for the participants.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Outstanding Performer Award Honoring Rami Malek
Rami Malek speaks onstage at the Outstanding Performer Award Honoring Rami Malek during 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 1, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - American Riviera Award Honoring Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen attends the American Riviera Award Honoring Viggo Mortensen during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Lobero Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)
34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close
SBIFF Director Roger Durling, Glenn Close and Leonard Maltin pose backstage at the Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Glenn Close during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 2, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

While many of the panels and tributes have been conducted, the SBIFF programming team, led by Professor Michael Albright, has put together an extraordinarily diverse cross-section of films from around the world. Shadow by Chinese master filmmaker, Zhang Yimou, had audiences oohing, aahing and wowing!

Stay tuned for the second half of this film festival extravaganza currently underway on the American Riviera in Santa Barbara, California.

Until next time. I’ll see you at the movies!

 

*Feature photo: right to left, SBIFF Programming Director, Michael Albright, with Diving Deep filmmaker Mimi deGruy, producer Shannon Dybvig and editor Brent Sumner. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Day 4 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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.

34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - American Riviera Award Honoring Viggo Mortensen

 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.

    • Harris on Mortenesen:

      • He recounted how Appaloosa came together and Viggo’s involvement. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

      • “Viggo Mortensen is a man of his word. I don’t think you can pay someone a much higher tribute.”

      • “He’s a consummate pro, an incredibly talented actor, one hell of a human being, and my friend.”

 

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2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Top Prizes Go To Clemency, One Child Nation, The Souvenir and Honeyland

Brittany Runs a Marathon, Knock Down the House, Queen of Hearts and Sea of Shadows  Win Audience Awards

Sundance_Awards
(L-R) Honeyland, Credit: Samir Ljuma; Clemency, Credit: Eric Branco; The Souvenir, Credit: Agatha A. Nitecka.

Park City, Utah — After 10 days and 121 feature films, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards Ceremony took place tonight, with host Marianna Palka emceeing and jurors presenting 28 prizes for feature filmmaking. Honorees, named in total below, represent new achievements in global independent storytelling. Bold, intimate, and humanizing stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to Clemency (U.S. Dramatic), One Child Nation (U.S. Documentary), Honeyland (World Cinema Documentary) and The Souvenir (World Cinema Dramatic).

“Supporting artists and their stories has been at the core of Sundance Institute’s mission from the very beginning,” said Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford. “At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to support independent voices, to watch and listen to the stories they tell.”

“This year’s expansive Festival celebrated and championed risk-taking artists,” said Keri Putnam, the Institute’s Executive Director. “As the Festival comes to a close, we look forward to watching the stories and conversations that started here as they shape and define our culture in the year to come.”

“These past ten days have been extraordinary,” said John Cooper, Sundance Film Festival Director. “It’s been an honor to stand with these artists, and to see their work challenge, enlighten and charm its first audiences.”

The awards ceremony marked the culmination of the 2019 Festival, where 121 feature-length and 73 short films — selected from 14,259 submissions — were showcased in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, Utah, alongside work in the new Indie Episodic category, panels, music and New Frontier. The ceremony was live-streamed; video is available at youtube.com/sff.

This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments in the arts, technical craft and visionary storytelling, deliberated extensively before presenting awards from the stage; this year’s jurors were Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson. Festival Favorite, an award voted on by audiences, will be announced in the coming days.

Feature film award winners in previous years include: The Miseducation of Cameron Post, I don’t feel at home in this world anymore., Weiner, Whiplash, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugarman, The Square, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cartel Land, The Wolf Pack, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dope, Dear White People, The Cove and Man on Wire.

Of the 28 prizes awarded tonight to 23 films – comprising the work of 27 filmmakers – 13 (56.5%) were directed by one or more women; eight (34.8%) were directed by one or more people of color; and one (4.3%) was directed by a person who identifies as LGBTQI+.

2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE FILM AWARDS

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Rachel Grady to: Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, for One Child Nation / China, U.S.A. (Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Damien Chazelle to: Chinonye Chukwu, for Clemency / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chinonye Chukwu, Producers: Bronwyn Cornelius, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong, Timur Bekbosunov) — Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks. 

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Verena Paravel to: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Jane Campion to: Joanna Hogg, for The Souvenir / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Joanna Hogg, Producers: Luke Schiller, Joanna Hogg) — A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented by Mark Duplass to: Knock Down the House / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lears, Producers: Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears) — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented by Paul Downs Colaizzo to: Brittany Runs A Marathon / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Downs Colaizzo, Producers: Matthew Plouffe, Tobey Maguire, Margot Hand)A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee. 

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Ray Romano to: Sea of Shadows / Austria (Director: Richard Ladkani, Producers: Walter Koehler, Wolfgang Knoepfler) —The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Mark Duplass to: Queen of Hearts / Denmark (Director: May el-Toukhy, Screenwriters: Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy, Producers: Caroline Blanco, René Ezra) — A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper. 

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented by Danielle Macdonald to: The Infiltrators / U.S.A. (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay. 

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Yance Ford to: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, for American Factory / U.S.A. (Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello) — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Desiree Akhavan to: Joe Talbot, for The Last Black Man in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Maite Alberdi to: Mads Brügger, for Cold Case Hammarskjöld / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium (Director: Mads Brügger, Producers: Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksén, Bjarte M. Tveit) — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Ciro Guerra to: Lucía Garibaldi, for The Sharks / Uruguay, Argentina, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Lucía Garibaldi, Producers: Pancho Magnou Arnábal, Isabel García) — While a rumor about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Phyllis Nagy to: Pippa Bianco, for Share / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency was presented by Alissa Wilkinson to: Jacqueline Olive, for Always in Season / U.S.A. (Director: Jacqueline Olive, Producers: Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker was presented by Jeff Orlowski to: Liza Mandelup, for Jawline / U.S.A. (Director: Liza Mandelup, Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer) — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Alissa Wilkinson to: Todd Douglas Miller, for APOLLO 11 / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Douglas Miller, Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss) — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Jeff Orlowski to: Luke Lorentzen, Midnight Family / Mexico, U.S.A. (Director: Luke Lorentzen, Producers: Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes, Luke Lorentzen) — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft was presented by Tessa Thompson to: Alma Har’el for her film Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe. 

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Collaboration was presented by Dennis Lim to: Director Joe Talbot for his film The Last Black Man in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting was presented by Tessa Thompson to: Rhianne Barreto, for Share / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders was presented by Maite Alberdi to: Hassan Fazzili, for Midnight Traveler / U.S.A., Qatar, United Kingdom, Canada (Director: Hassan Fazili, Screenwriter: Emelie Mahdavian, Producers: Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim) — When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact for Change was presented by Nico Marzano to: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Nico Marzano to: Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality was presented by Ciro Guerra to: Makoto Nagahisa, for WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa, Producers: Taihei Yamanishi, Shinichi Takahashi, Haruki Yokoyama, Haruhiko Hasegawa) — Their parents are dead. They should be sad, but they can’t cry. So they form a kick-ass band. This is the story of four 13-year-olds in search of their emotions. Cast: Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima. 

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award was presented by Charles Gillbert to: Alejandro Landes, for Monos / Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Uruguay (Director: Alejandro Landes, Screenwriters: Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos, Producers: Alejandro Landes, Fernando Epstein, Santiago Zapata, Cristina Landes) — On a faraway mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, Moisés Arias, Sofia Buenaventura, Deiby Rueda, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Charles Gillbert to: Krystyna Janda, for Dolce Fine Giornata / Poland (Director: Jacek Borcuch, Screenwriters: Jacek Borcuch, Szczepan Twardoch, Producer: Marta Habior) — In Tuscany, Maria’s stable family life begins to erode as her relationship with a young immigrant develops against a backdrop of terrorism and eroding democracy.

The NEXT Innovator Prize was presented by juror Laurie Anderson to: Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, for The Infiltrators / U.S.A. (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay. 

he following awards were presented at separate ceremonies at the Festival:

SHORT FILM AWARDS:
Jury prizes and honorable mentions in short filmmaking were presented at a ceremony in Park City on January 29. The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to: Aziza / Syria, Lebanon (Director: Soudade Kaadan, Screenwriters: Soudade Kaadan, May Hayek). The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was presented to: Green / U.S.A. (Director: Suzanne Andrews Correa, Screenwriters: Suzanne Andrews Correa, Mustafa Kaymak). The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction was presented to: Dunya’s Day / Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Raed Alsemari). The Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction was presented to: Ghosts of Sugar Land / U.S.A. (Director: Bassam Tariq). The Short Film Jury Award: Animation was presented to: Reneepoptosis / U.S.A., Japan (Director and screenwriter: Renee Zhan). Two Special Jury Awards for Directing werepresented to:  FAST HORSE / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alexandra Lazarowich) and The MINORS / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robert Machoian). The Short Film jurors were Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith and Sheila Vand. The Short Film program is presented by YouTube.

SUNDANCE INSTITUTE | ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE
The 2019 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to an outstanding feature film about science or technology, was presented to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

SUNDANCE INSTITUTE | AMAZON STUDIOS PRODUCERS AWARDS
Carly Hugo
and Matt Parker received the 2019 Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Awards for Feature Film. Lori Cheatle received the 2019 Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Documentary Film. The award recognizes bold vision and a commitment to continuing work as a creative producer in the independent space, and grants money (via the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program and Documentary Film Program) to emerging producers of films at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Institute / NHK Award was presented to Planet Korsakov (Japan) / Taro Aoshima.
The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2019 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, YouTube; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, AT&T, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom, Stella Artois; Sustaining Sponsors – Ancestry, Canada Goose, Canon, Dell, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, High West Distillery, IMDbPro, Lyft, RIMOWA, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, VARIETY, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home.

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(Source: Sundance Press Release

 

MELISSA MCCARTHY TO RECEIVE MONTECITO AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy

February 3, 2019
8:00PM
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

TICKETS HERE

Melissa McCarthy will receive the prestigious Montecito Award 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.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479“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 film Can 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 Santa Barbara International Film Festival 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 Santa Barbara International Film Festival will run through Saturday, February 9th.
 

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GLENN CLOSE TO RECEIVE MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Maltin Modern Master Award honoring Glenn Close

Sunday, February 3, 2019
3:00PM
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

 

Glenn Close is set to receive the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award at the 34th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  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.

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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 Maltin Modern 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 Santa Barbara International Film Festival will run through Saturday, February 9th.

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VIGGO MORTENSON TO RECEIVE AMERICAN RIVIERA AWARD AT SANTA BARBARA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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American Riviera Award
honoring
Viggo Mortenson

Saturday, February 2, 2019
3:00pm
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

 

 

Viggo Mortenson is set to receive the illustrious American Riviera 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.

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479“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 American Riviera 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 American Riviera 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.

Tickets Here

Santa Barbara Honors Rami Malek

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Rami Malek Receives Outstanding Performer of the Year for his work as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

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Rami Malek arrived in Santa Barbara amidst a light rain making his way to a busy red carpet and getting under cover.

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.

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Rami Malek, left, and moderator Scott Feinberg, enjoy a moment onstage during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Outstanding Performer of the Year Tribute at the historic Arlington Theatre, February 1, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

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….

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INTERVIEW: Vanessa Filho with ANGEL FACE in Santa Barbara tonight and tomorrow evening!

 

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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.

 

 

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