The 29th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG Australia, announced the winners of the 2014 festival competition at a Press Conference and Brunch Sunday morning at the Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort. To the delight of patrons and industry professionals, the festival’s 29th season continued the tradition of presenting purely exceptional films, spanning genres and topics that surpass anything before. Throughout the 11 days, cinephiles from around the globe packed the theaters of State Street, creating one of the most vivacious periods the area has ever seen.
Commented Executive Director Roger Durling, “The caliber of films that we welcomed to our community was exceptional and opened our eyes to all corners of the world. This year’s winners have captivated us, moved us and inspired us beyond anything we could have imagined. We are proud to have shown these films and have them be a part of the 2014 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.”
The esteemed jury for the 2014 SBIFF included: Yahoo! Movies writer Thelma Adams, documentary filmmaker Mimi deGruy, SBIFF Founder Phyllis DePicciotto, actress Frances Fisher, Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel, producer Ted Hope, Academy Award-winning editor Artie Schmidt, actor Alan Thicke, actors Anthony and Arnette Zerbe.
The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema, given to a unique independent feature that has been made outside mainstream Hollywood, went to NOBLE, directed by Stephen Bradley and starring Dierdre O’Kane, Sarah Greene, Brendan Coyle, Mark Huberman, Liam Cunningham and Nhu Quynh Nguyen. In 1989 Vietnam, a funny, feisty and courageous woman overcomes the difficulties of her childhood in Ireland to discover her destiny on the streets of Saigon, helping more than 70,000 street children on the other side of the world. Winner received a Panavision camera package worth $60,000. Mark Huberman, who plays the role of David Somers in the film, was on hand to accept the award for director Stephen Bradley.
Frances Fisher, who along with Ted Hope judged the Independent category, commented that Stephen Bradley’s NOBLE “lived up to its title. It’s a powerful story of triumph over adversity. Inspiring - beautifully shot, acted and directed.”
An Honorable Mention was awarded to Hill Harper for his performance in 1982, directed by Tommy Oliver.
The Best International Film Award went to France’s EASTERN BOYS, directed by Robin Campillo and starring Olivier Rabourdin, Kirill Emelyanov and Daniil Vorobyov about a middle-aged Frenchman who solicits a young foreigner and finds himself entangled with a group of young Eastern European hustlers.
Said Guettel, who judged along with Thelma Adams commented, “Eastern Boys doesn’t care what you think is right or wrong. It just unfolds through three beautifully intuitive performances, a fresh story of moral hazard and reward.”
Diane Kurys’ FOR A WOMAN received an Honorable Mention for Excellence in directing.
Best Documentary Film Award went to QUEENS AND COWBOYS: A STRAIGHT YEAR ON THE GAY RODEO, directed by Matt Livadary. Roping and riding and busting stereotypes, the dauntless members of the International Gay Rodeo Association face constant obstacles in their quest to qualify for the World Gay Rodeo Finals. Director Matt Livadary was on hand to accept the award.
Said deGruy, who judged along with Schmidt, “It was a difficult decision to choose one ‘best’ because this year’s documentary roster was so strong. Ultimately, we chose Queens and Cowboys because of its strong story, directing, editing, camerawork, use of music and its strong heart. It was an entertaining, courageous, moving, thought provoking film than upends just about every gay prejudice and stereotype.”
The Nueva Vision Award for the best Spanish/Latin American film was awarded to GOD’S SLAVE (ESCLAVO DE DIOS), directed by Joel Novoa. Inspired by true events, this is the story of two extremists, one Islamic and the other Jewish, who cross paths while on opposing sides of the 1994 Buenos Aires AMIA bombings. Director Joel Novoa and producer Jose Novoa were on hand to accept the award.
The Best Eastern European Film Award for best Eastern Bloc feature went to BAUYR (LITTLE BROTHER), from Kazakhstan directed by Serik Aprymov. In a small remote village lost in the mountains, nine-year-old Yerken is forced to live alone without any support. But the day finally arrives when his older brother returns home, and Yerken is full of joy and happiness. His brother turns out to be the direct opposite of little Yerken, a cold and hollow-hearted person— personality traits which Yerken fails to notice due to his unrequited love and affection for his brother. Through the unfolding events, Yerken never leaves the impression of a helpless little boy; he doesn’t fight the harsh reality around him—he is too young for that. Instead, he is consistently self-contained and protected by his inner world. Director Serik Aprymov was present to accept the award.
Jurors Phyllis dePicciotto and Anthony Zerbe commented that both the Spanish Language and Eastern Bloc sections offered an amazing, diverse world view of so many different cultures. “This year was rich in film offerings, making it difficult to pick a winner. They opened our eyes to global views that enrich us as human beings, whether they are comedies, dramas or thrillers. The festival attendees were treated to a cinematic fest.”
The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film Under 30 Minutes went to SATELLITE BEACH, directed by Luke and Andrew Wilson. Satellite Beach follows the unique journey of the Endeavour space shuttle as it travels through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center, and the final move of the Atlantic space shuttle to the Kennedy Space Center. King Orba (one of the actors in the film) accepted the award along with Bud Kremp, Director Of Photography.
Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animation Short Film went to TOME OF THE UNKNOWN, directed by Patrick McHale and starring Elijah Wood and Warren Burton about two brother who find themselves lost in a mysterious place called the Unknown, a place where long-forgotten stories take shape around them as they search for a way home. Director Patrick McHale and Executive Producers Brian Miller and Jennifer Pelphrey were there to accept the award.
The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award Sponsored by The Fund for Santa Barbara for a documentary film that addresses social justice issues went to THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE EMERGENCE OF A PEOPLE, directed by Thomas Allen Harris. This film explores the role that photography has played in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present. Director Thomas Allen Harris was there to accept the award.
The Audience Choice Award, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, went to QUEENS AND COWBOYS: A STRAIGHT YEAR ON THE GAY RODEO, directed by Matt Livadary.