On February 24 at the Riviera Theatre, SBIFF (Santa Barbara International Film Festival) held a very amusing Red Carpet Pajama Party, which raised about $80,000 for its extensive education programs. The 200 or so guests, clad in their finest PJs, enjoyed a light-hearted mid-afternoon reception in front of the theater and in the lobby, complete with gourmet food and beverages and a king-size bed for fun photo ops. Then guests got to enjoy Oscar viewing on the big screen.
SBIFF is well known for its world-class film festival. Less well-known but equally worthy of recognition are its extensive and amazing education programs for youth in Santa Barbara and beyond. Some of these programs, like the Film Studies Program, run in conjunction with the film festival. This three-day symposium for college students includes a private screening and discussion with a filmmaker (this year Paul Schrader), panel discussions with top industry professionals (this year the Directors’ Panel and the Women’s Panel), and access to SBIFF’s films, including Q&As with filmmakers. This year’s program, which benefited 30 SBCC students and 30 out-of-area students, was completely underwritten by Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin, and Netflix.
The 10-10-10 (Ten Writers – Ten Directors – Ten Films) Competition offers 10 high school and 10 college students an incredible mentorship opportunity with industry professionals. Mentors included top talent like Prudence and Robert Sternin, who have written, produced, or developed more than a dozen prime-time series, actor Perry Lang, and multi-Emmy nominee screenwriter Glenn Leopold. Other community members function as actors, producers, and judges, giving students a large network of support. After five months of work, the resulting films are shown at the Arlington Theatre on the final festival day, complete with an awards ceremony.
Mike’s FieldTrip to the Movies, founded by Mike deGruy, brings 4,000 fourth, fifth and sixth grade Title 1 school students to the Arlington Theatre for a film and discussion with the director. The program seeks to use filmmaking to stimulate creativity, confidence, and cultural awareness. SBIFF provides a study guide and, for some schools, an in-school filmmaker presentation. This year, some students saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse while others saw Ralph Breaks the Internet. A discussion with the directors followed each screening and 700 students had an in-school filmmaker presentation. SBIFF plans to expand this program to include three screenings at other times of the year.
In partnership with the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC), SBIFF runs a 6-day overnight summer Film Camp at Camp Whittier, free of charge, where 30 lucky UBGC members ages 12 to 16 learn about film production and appreciation. For these low-income students, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn about the exciting world of film production.
Under the Rosebud Program, 10 Santa Barbara County college students participate in SBIFF’s Cinema Society each fall. Students see more than 20 films and attend Q&As. They participate in small group film analysis discussions with SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling and help develop study guides and Q&As.
SBIFF also has outreach programs bringing film to underserved audiences. Applebox provides free family-oriented films and refreshments on weekend mornings during the festival. This year, about 6,000 people enjoyed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Incredibles 2. The program is targeted for expansion, with plans to eventually show one film per month.
SBIFF’s Silver Screenings, in partnership with Easy Lift Transportation, provides free transportation, admission, and refreshments each month to a film at the Riviera Theatre for non-ambulatory seniors. About 700 seniors participate each year.
This summer, SBIFF will be opening the Barbakow Family Center for Film Studies at 1330 State Street, which will be a classroom, screening room, community meeting space, and editing suite.
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