Almost all of the winning filmmakers were on hand to accept their awards at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s awards press conference held earlier today at the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort. The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema, which went to Jeffrey St. Jules for Bang Bang Baby, comes with $60,000 in Panavision cameras and equipment. The judges for this award, James Read and Will Eubanks, described their choice as “[David] Lynch meets [John Waters’] Hairspray.”

The Audience Choice Award, which is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Independent, went to Kiwi writer/director Bryn Evans for his film Hip Hop-eration, the story of a group of cheeky seniors from New Zealand who rediscover life through hip hop dance.

The Best International Film Award went to Belgium’s All Cats Are Grey (Tous Les Chats Sont Gris), directed by Savina Dellicour. Director Nick Brandestini accepted the Best Documentary Film Award for Children of the Arctic. The Nueva Vision Award went to Happy Times (Tiempos Felices), a quirky romantic comedy from Mexico, directed by Luis Javier M. Henaine.

Darko Lungulov accepted the best Eastern European Film Award for Monument to Michael Jackson (Spomenik Majklu Dzeksonu).

Producer and Santa Barbara resident Laura D. Smith accepted the award in a new category sponsored by Cox Communications, the Santa Barbara Features Award. Smith’s award-winning film was the documentary Holbrook/Twain, directed by Scott Teems.

The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film Under 30 Minutes went to The Answers, directed by Michael Goode. The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animation Short Film went to Load, directed by Niv Shpigel and Robert Moreno. The award for Documentary Short Films went to Life After Pi, Scott Lebrecht’s account of Rhythm and Hues Studios, the special effects house that won an Oscar for their work on Life of Pi two weeks after declaring bankruptcy.

Director Michael Lessac gave a touching and heartfelt speech about his gratitude to the global community of filmmakers when he accepted The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, his documentary on the dramatization of South African reconciliation testimony.


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