Charles Donelan’s Recs for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Our Executive Arts Editor Reveals His Watchlist for This Year
By Charles Donelan | March 3, 2022
With so many films to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down one’s choices from the complete list available at sbiff.org. What follows is a necessarily arbitrary and unquestionably incomplete set of recommendations based on my schedule reading.
The Good Boss (El buen patrón)
Fans of the incomparable Javier Bardem will have the opportunity to compare his work on Being the Ricardos with another popular film released this year. While Bardem may win Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Ricky Ricardo, the word is he’s just as good in this comedy from Spain.
House of Darkness
Among the most intriguing of the festival’s world premieres, there’s House of Darkness, written and directed by the playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute. This new-styled horror/suspense film stars Justin Long and Kate Bosworth.
Loren & Rose
Jacqueline Bisset stars in this sophisticated and touching portrait of the friendship between a young director played by Kelly Blatz and Bisset as Rose Martin, a Hollywood star looking to reinvigorate her career. See my interview with Bisset and writer/director Russell Brown for more on this world premiere.
Our Worlds Collide
Get Lit is a program in Los Angeles that uses poetry to empower and educate young people. This documentary produced by Rosario Dawson looks at the lives of five high school seniors as they perform spoken-word poetry during their senior year of high school.
The Phantom of the Open
The festival’s opening night feature is a comedy from England starring two of the U.K.’s greatest actors, Mark Rylance and Sally Hawkins. Rylance plays Maurice Flitcroft, the eccentric real-life character who dared to enter the elite British Open golf tournament despite never having played the game.
José María Cabral’s film confronts one of the darkest episodes in the history of his country, the Dominican Republic. In 1937, dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered that all Haitians either leave the Dominican Republic or face execution. The test of Dominican identity used to select the victims of this genocide was their ability to pronounce the word “perejil” (parsley).
You Resemble Me (Tu me ressembles)
This international co-production by director and journalist Dina Amer explores the radicalization of a young resident of a Paris banlieue. Amer conducted 360 hours of interviews following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris to prepare for this, her filmmaking debut. You Resemble Me was executive produced by Spike Lee, Spike Jonze, Riz Ahmed, and Alma Har’el.
Five children of different abilities prepare for a dance recital in this new documentary by Dan Watt. This inspiring story of how ballet and a special teacher change lives makes a perfect choice for viewing during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.