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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has found a new home: the historic Riviera Theatre. The Riviera Theatre will allow SBIFF to expand their current slate of education programs, preserve an important historic landmark, and create a cultural hub for all things film.

The decision to make the Riviera the new home was unanimously approved by SBIFF’s Board of Directors in March 2016. The lease was negotiated by SBIFF Board president Mark Scher and board members Bob Brada and Eric Phillips, Jeff Barbakow with Michael Towbes and the Towbes Group, coinciding with the Group’s 60th anniversary.

“As we enter our 32nd year, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has cemented itself as a part of our great city’s history” stated Mark Scher, President of SBIFF and owner of the Scher Investment Group. “We believe a long-term home at the Riviera Theatre is a pivotal point in the evolution of SBIFF and will allow us the opportunity to greatly expand our programming and bring a real cultural center for film to the Santa Barbara Community.  I couldn’t be more thrilled for SBIFF and the City of Santa Barbara.”

At the heart of SBIFF’s mission is education, and through its programs its staff is able to seek to engage, enrich, and inspire people through film. The Riviera as the new home will allow for expansion in the current programs and the ability to implement new ones, and to ultimately better serve the Santa Barbara community on a year-round basis.

The new theater allows service to more underserved youth and families through programs such as AppleBox Family Films and Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies. Other programs will continue at the Riviera Theatre, including three year-round programs: Cinema Society (an exclusive membership program), the Rosebud Program for Film Students (a program for local college students), and the Wave Film Festival (the mini film festival which will be increased to three times per year). The Showcase, which features innovative independent films, will move to the Riviera from its current location Plaza de Oro.

Renovations will transform the Riviera into a state of the art movie theater, and a cultural hub for all things film. The renovations will include new seats, acoustical upgrades, improved ventilation, structural fixes, enhanced lighting, a new screen and projection system, and a state of the art sound system.

“We are very excited to provide this new home for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Riviera Theatre”, stated Michael Towbes, Chairman of The Towbes Group. “Over the years we have brought the Riviera campus to an entirely new quality level.  The historic significance of the campus, dating back to its locating on the Riviera in 1913, makes it a very special place for me and the Santa Barbara community.  The upgrades which SBIFF plans to make to the theatre will complete the campus improvements which we began some 40 years ago.  They will greatly enhance the audience experience and honor the legacy of the building.”

SBIFF will continue to provide quality, year-round arts education, provide access to independent and international cinema, and celebrate, nurture, and promote the art of storytelling, as well as the storytellers themselves. Its programs will continue to evoke inspiration and creativity, and will stimulate civic discourse, engagement and exploration.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. SBIFF offers 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums that transforms beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, CA into a rich destination for film lovers which attract more than 90,000 attendees.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community through free programs like its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars. In recent years SBIFF has expanded its year round presence with regular screenings and Q&As with programs like Cinema Society, The Showcase and its Wave Film Festivals.

(Source: Press Release provided by Jackson Gibbon, Sunshine Sachs)

2016 #SBIFF Draws To A Close

Last night the 31st edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) drew to a close at the historic Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. Festival Director Roger Durling welcomed and expressed his gratitude to the festival’s Board of Directors and to everyone who came out and supported the 200+ films and all the filmmakers from around the world. And, without missing a beat, Durling demonstrated his appreciation for the 700+ volunteers who provide additional support to his staff during the eleven day cinema celebration saying, “We couldn’t do it without the support of our volunteers…I salute you.”

(Photo Credit: William Conlin, YDL Digital Film)

The closing night film, Marguerite, started with a subtitles glitch. After a restart and a technical adjustment the film ran in its entirety and proved to be a crowd pleaser.

Next weekend several popular festival films are screened for the public free of charge at the scenic Riviera Theatre as part of the festival’s 3rd Weekend. Admission to the 3rd Weekend is on a first come first served basis. Here is a listing of films showing:


Fri Feb 19 – 5:00 PM – Talion – Winner of the Nueva Vision Award for Spanish/Latin American Cinema
Fri Feb 19 – 7:30 PM – Mammal – Winner of the Panavision Independent Spirit Award
Fri Feb 19 – 9:30 PM – Award Winning Shorts (Graffiti, Lebanon Wins the World Cup, The Orchestra)

Sat Feb 20 – 11:00 AM – Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt – Winner of the Best Documentary Award
Sat Feb 20 – 2:00 PM – Viva – Winner of the ADL Stand-up Award
Sat Feb 20 – 5:00 PM – Ville-Marie – Winner of the Best International Film Award
Sat Feb 20 – 7:30 PM – The Culpable – Winner of the Audience Choice Award
Sat Feb 20 – 9:30 PM – Crossing Bhutan

Sun Feb 21 – 11:00 AM – 10 Billion: What’s on Your Plate? – Winner of the Social Justice Award
Sun Feb 21 – 2:00 PM – TBD
Sun Feb 21 – 5:00 PM – Harold and Lilian: A Hollywood Love Story
Sun Feb 21 – 7:30 PM – Bad Seeds


In addition, the festival is actively engaged throughout the year with its weekly Showcase Series and additional screenings with Q & A’s through Cinema Society and the SBIFF Wave Festivals.  One of the tenants to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is giving back to the community and showcasing the art of film through it’s various outreach programming including its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, and its educational seminars.

Patrons of the AppleBox Family Films at the Arlington Theater, on February 6th, 2016. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

Keep in mind, it’s only 364 days until the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s 32nd edition. Until then….I’ll see you at the movies!

(Source: Santa Barbara International Film Festival)