A feminist comedy about Lebanese women doing all they can to prevent the men in their village from engaging in religious war, a classic dysfunctional family short, and a charmer depicting a mime who is fluent in the language of love were the makings of SBIFF’s 2012 laughter-infiltrated closing night.
The main feature Where Do We Go Now?, which previously received awards at both the Cannes and Toronto international film festivals, had its West Coast premiere at SBIFF and induced similar adoration from Sunday evening’s California audiences at the Arlington.
Announcements of the winners of the 10-10-10 student filmmaking competition opened up the night. Coordinator of 10-10-10, Mickey Duzdevich, honored winning student filmmakers Aaron Dalton of San Marcos High School and Tekin Girgin from Brooks Institute for each creating their respective 10-minute films created in 10 days.
Dalton’s film, Family Weekend, showed a Santa Barbara family consisting of some very diverse characters as they broke the news to one of their sons that he was adopted. Girgin’s featured a blonde bombshell looking for romance, and finding it unexpectedly after a mime collides with her car.
Awards picked from the main selection of films came next. The Audience Choice went to Starbuck, directed by Ken Scott, a film about a middle-aged and careless man who discovers that his donated sperm have made him the father of 533 children — including many who are eager to meet him.
The Documentary Award was gifted to Pretty Old, directed by Walter Matteson. It’s a film about elderly women annually competing in a beauty pageant. “I sort of wish the ladies were here tonight. I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Matteson in his acceptance speech.
Roger Durling, SBIFF’s executive director, then paid public respects to “beloved family member” of the festival and ocean documentarian Mike DeGruy, who passed away due to a helicopter crash on Friday night.
“Nine years ago, I asked my friend Mike DeGruy to help me out at the film festival,” said Durling. “He introduced us to extraordinary films, he brought filmmakers of the caliber of Sir David Attenborough and James Cameron. He hosted a conversation with David Guggenheim and Al Gore right on this stage. He inspired many young children about filmmaking and he inspired all of us at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and he inspired me.”
A few Volunteers of the Year were then recognized for their SBIFF work: Jason Simpson with the production team for being the “get things done guy,” Erica Gilmore for her dedication to SBIFF despite being a newbie, Beverlyn Delacruz for her enthusiasm, and Cheryl Maxwell for being the “shining star of hospitality”.
Without further ado, the Arlington screen widened to start Where Do We Go Now?, a Lebanese film of poignancy, light and dark humor, a lot of personality and stinging, razor-sharp acting by most. Full of surprises, it touched on the strains of both family and romantic relationships and featured strong and unique characters while giving its take on Muslim-Christian conflict.