In an assembly such as this, the genre’s were eclectic from sexual adventures (An Awkward Sexual Adventure) to meditation (Retreat), extreme sports (Discovering Mavericks) to nature (Revolution). Features and shorts, both live and animated filled theaters from 8AM to 10PM for 11 days!
Here are some highlights from this year’s spectacular festival.
The festival opened with the US premiere of Henry-Alex Rubin’s “Disconnect”. The sold-out, 2000-seat Arlington Theatre welcomed cast members Alexander Skarsgård, Paula Patton, Frank Grillo, Colin Ford, Haley Ramm, Aviad Bernstein and screenwriter Andrew Stern, as well as Alan Thicke and jury members Ralph Macchio with Karina Smirnoff and Debra Martin Chase.
Ben Affleck, recipient of the Modern Master Award, reflected on his many influences, with his family being most notable. For Affleck his children have influenced his work to not only have quality but integrity. Such integrity was shown in his dedication to be to true and loyal to the facts and story line and even the slightest nuances. Longtime friend and colleague, Matt Damon, presented the award.
In an unprecedented candid and open conversation, Montecito Award recipient Daniel Day Lewis spoke freely of his life, his journey through his career and brought to light his process for an audience of 2000 in the Arlington Theatre.
Six unique performers took the stage to receive their Virtuosos Award. Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy, and Quvenzhané Wallis all delivered breakout performances this year confirming their place on Hollywood’s radar.
Quentin Tarantino took the audience on an entertaining journey through his creative mind and expertise on screenwriting. He was awarded with the American Riviera Award and even gave advice to aspiring writers, saying that writing is all about the journey and that’s what makes the end result worthwhile.
Recipient of the Cinema Vanguard Award was Amy Adams, who shared how she was able to take on such strong and unique characters. Presenting the award to Adams, was director Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix, The Master co-star and friend, was also in attendance.
Jennifer Lawrence received the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award and the evening gave the audience an inside look at the 22-year-old who expressed how she is a normal person that has a passion for acting and telling stories.
Mikes’ Field Trip to the Movies and Apple Box
Mikes’ Field Trip to the Movies, while a new name, maintained the quality of the experience for the children of Title One schools. The program was retitled in honor of Mike DeGruy who created this program in hopes of bringing the element of the learning HOW the film was made in addition to simply watching the film. This year, SBIFF welcomed nearly 4000 kids to see Rise of the Guardians and an enthusiastic Q&A with the films director Peter Ramsey.
Apple Box, another staple and favorite of the Santa Barbara community, attracted record crowds as they screened four films free of charge to families of SB for both weekends. First weekend people lined up to see Disney’s Brave and Universal’s ParaNormal with second weekend hosting two Disney animated features Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie.
Another highlight of the festival are the panels that are spread out over both weekends. The first weekend welcomed the Directors Panel and the Writers Panel with the second weekend hosting the Producer’s Panel and the Women’s Panel - the panels are favorites of locals and visitors alike.
Warner Bros. Archives
Once again SBIFF featured a showcase of digitally restored masterpieces: Dial M for Murder, Singin’ In The Rain, and The Shining. The Warner Archives Restoration team attended for Q&As following the screenings.
>The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema, given to a unique independent feature that has been made outside mainstream Hollywood, went to BABYGIRL, directed by Macdara Vallely. A Puerto Rican girl in the Bronx sets a trap to expose her mother’s boyfriend as the creep she thinks he is. Winner received a Panavision camera package worth $60,000.
The Best International Film Award went to COMING OF AGE (Anfang 80), directed by Gerhard Ertl and Sabine Hiebler. At age 80, two people prove beyond all doubt that nobody is too old for young love.
The Nueva Vision Award for the best Spanish/Latin American film was awarded to 7 BOXES (7 Cajas), directed by Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori. A teenage delivery boy working in a Paraguayan market must dodge thieves, rival gangs and the police when he agrees to transport seven mysterious — and highly sought-after — crates to the edge of town.
Best Documentary Film Award went to MORE THAN HONEY, directed by Markus Imhoof. With dazzling nature photography, Academy Award®-nominated director Markus Imhoof makes a global examination of endangered honeybees — spanning California, Switzerland, China and Australia.
The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film Under 30 Minutes went to BARRIERS, directed by Golan Rise. Uri and two soldiers are manning a checkpoint in the territories. Two women from the “watch” organization try to interfere. Amidst the women’s screaming, Uri receives an order to close the checkpoint because of a bomb threat.
Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animation Short Film went to SLEIGHT OF HAND, directed by Michael Cusack. Sleight of Hand: techniques used to manipulate objects to deceive. In this stop-motion film about illusions, a man sculpts a clay image of himself.
The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award Sponsored by The Fund for Santa Barbara for a documentary film that addresses social justice issues also went to REVOLUTION, directed by Rob Stewart and executive produced by Gus Van Sant. This outstanding documentary makes an impassioned, angry and enduringly hopeful call to arms against our destruction of our planet’s precious marine life. The winner receives $2500.
The Audience Choice Award, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, went to SPINNING PLATES, directed by Joseph Levy. This documentary features three restaurants (including French Laundry and Chicago’s Alinea), extraordinary for what they are today as well as for the challenges they have overcome.
The festival will host a Third Weekend February 8-10, featuring some of the Best of the Fest. The schedule will be announced tomorrow and can be found at www.sbiff.org.