Last Sunday afternoon at the Riviera Theatre, SBIFF literally rolled out the red carpet to welcome supporters to its 2nd annual Riviera Red Carpet Pajama Party. Open to the public, the event raised funds for SBIFF’s (Santa Barbara International Film Festival) extensive and impressive education programs.
The 160 guests strutted down the carpet in an assortment of bedtime attire, including Kathy Ireland sporting a soft pink robe. Guests entered a fabulous clear-walled tent with a vaulted ceiling, where they mingled and feasted on gourmet food and beverage offerings from multiple purveyors. Some watched the other pre-Oscar party on a jumbotron, others had fun posing for photos on a king size bed. Everyone seemed to enjoy the theme, happily leaving the gowns and tuxes at home. Afterwards, guests got to watch the Oscars in the Riviera’s state-of-the-art theater.
SBIFF is well known for its world-class film festival. Less well-known but also world-class are its education programs for youth in Santa Barbara and beyond. As a result of the wild success of the film festival and other funding sources, SBIFF offers, free of charge, a dozen amazing programs, which further its mission to “engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film.”
Some of these programs, like the Film Studies Program, run in conjunction with the film festival. This three-day symposium for college students includes private sessions with filmmakers (this year David O. Russell and Tanel Toom, as well as a Q&A with actor Christopher Lloyd) and access to the rest of SBIFF: panel discussions with top industry professionals, tributes, and 200+ films, including Q&As with filmmakers. Each year, 30 SBCC students and 30 out-of-area students participate.
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 have included top talent like Prudence Fraser and Robert Sternin, who have written, produced, or developed more than a dozen prime-time series, actor Perry Lang, producer Joe Medjuck, and multi-Emmy nominee screenwriter Glenn Leopold. 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 nearly 5,000 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, mostly from Title 1 schools, 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, Oscar-winning Toy Story 4 (Q&A with Director Josh Cooley) and Frozen 2 (Q&A with Co-Director Chris Buck and Special Effects Supervisor Erin Ramos) were screened.
Film Camp, in partnership with the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC), is a 6-day overnight summer program at Camp Whittier, where 30 lucky low-income UBGC members ages 12 to 16 learn about film production and appreciation. According to Development Manager Shannon Kelley, SBIFF’s programs for kids, which encourage them to express themselves, are so valuable in life, regardless of whether the participants end up pursuing a filmmaking career.
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 with directors, screenwriters, producers, and actors. 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 progams bringing film to underserved audiences. Applebox provides free family-oriented films and refreshments on weekend mornings during the festival at the Arlington Theatre and in the summer at the Riviera Theatre. 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 transit-dependent seniors. About 700 seniors participate each year.
Last year, SBIFF opened the Barbakow Family Center for Film Studies on State at Sola, which is now home to the Film Studies Program and the Santa Barbara Filmmaker Screening Series, which has free screenings of short films by Santa Barbara filmmakers during 1st Thursdays. For info on these and many other programs, go to sbiff.org.
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