U.S. Premiere Films at Santa Barbara International Film Festival
An Overview of the 53 Films Having Their U.S. Premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
With 53 films making their U.S. premieres at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, it’s a great opportunity for movie lovers to see something new and different on the big screen. Often the filmmakers are in town for their premiere too, and will do extras like Q&As and photo ops after screenings.
Here are the summaries of all 53 U.S. premiere feature films. For a complete schedule of screenings, visit sbiff.org or use the SBIFF app. Check out all of the world premieres here.
Directed by Firas Khoury
In a Palestinian town in Israel, Tamer and his friends lead typical high school students’ lives until the arrival of the beautiful Maysaa.
Directed by Makbul Mubarak
A young man, torn between loyalty and justice, confronts the truth about his father figure that may destroy them both.
Directed by Bess Wohl
In noted playwright Bess Wohl’s feature debut, the tightly scripted world of a vlogger and influencer unravels after she becomes a mother. Starring Kit Harrington of Game of Thrones fame.
A Bit of Light
Directed by Stephen Moyer
Ella, almost forty, is forced to move back in with her father, Alan. She’s trying to stay sober, having given up custody of her young daughters to her ex-husband, Joseph, and his new partner, Bethan.
Directed by Lena Karbe
The Black Mambas are South Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit. Chosen by the white, male-dominated conservation authorities, the Black Mambas challenge the role of women (and men) in their communities.
Bones of Crows
Directed by Marie Clements
Forced into residential school, Aline Spears and her siblings plunge into a fight for survival, shaping generations of their family.
Bread and Salt (Chleb i sól)
Directed by Damian Kocur
Tymek is a talented pianist and student of the Warsaw Academy of Music. Returning to his small hometown for a vacation, he witnesses a growing conflict between Arab kebab workers and his colleagues from the neighborhood.
A Bunch of Amateurs
Directed by Kim Hopkins
Only a miracle can save Britain’s oldest amateur film club from its final demise. Sometimes miracles come from the least expected places.
The Chambermaid (Sluzka)
Directed by Mariana Čengel Solčanská
Just before WWI, two young women, born the same year into different social worlds, become friends and shyly discover their love in a rigid society dominated by men and conventions.
Coyote (Le coyote)
Directed by Katherine Jerkovic
The arrival of a grandchild upsets an immigrant’s plans for a new beginning.
Daughter of Rage (La hija de todas las rabias)
Directed by Laura Baumeister
Eleven-year-old Maria lives with her mother Lilibeth at the edge of a garbage dump. But one day, Lilibeth disappears, leaving the little girl on her own.
Directed by Nahuel Lopez
When world-famous photographer Thomas Hoepker was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he and his wife decided to take a road trip across the U.S., his home for 40 years. An emotional journey in historic times.
Everybody Wants to Be Loved (Alle wollen geliebt werden)
Directed by Katharina Woll
A blisteringly hot summer day. Psychotherapist Ina notices something is wrong with her, but she doesn’t have time to worry about it. Ina wants to please everyone. But then, everything changes.
Directed by Abbe Hassan
A professional smuggler tries to save a 12-year-old girl whose family has gone missing in the Syrian war.
Fathers & Mothers (Fædre og mødre)
Directed by Paprika Steen
A married couple has to navigate hierarchy, rivalry, and hidden agendas at their daughter’s new school, including during a popular school camping trip.
Directed by Michał Kwiecinski
In a world marked by trauma and violence, a young man hides his true identity in order to survive and save himself. Will he make it? And if so, at what cost?
The Hotel (Lu guan)
Directed by Wáng Xiăoshuài
Chinese Hong Kong
The first days of 2020’s lockdown seem to drag on forever for a group of tourists trapped in a Thai hotel.
How is Katia? (Yak Tam Katia?)
Directed by Christina Tynkevych
Anna is a single mother, working as a paramedic to provide a better future for her daughter. A turn of events makes Anna question her moral compass in a society where everyone has lost their own.
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I Like Movies
Directed by Chandler Levack
Selected as the closing night film of SBIFF, the plot of this one fittingly involves a socially inept 17-year-old movie fan who works at a video store and develops a complicated relationship with his older female manager.
Into My Name (Nel mio nome)
Directed by Nicolò Bassetti
The coming-of-age story of four friends who share a personal journey to self-determine their own gender identities as they boldly face the day-to-day barriers that a binary world puts in their way.
Jane Campion, The Cinema Woman (Jane Campion, la femme cinéma)
Directed by Julie Bertuccelli
Filmmaker Julie Bertuccelli draws the portrait that film pioneer Jane Campion deserves, in a film that is unapologetically subjective and offbeat, very much mirroring Jane’s own trailblazing journey in cinema and life.
Directed by Andrés Ramírez Pulido
Eliu, a country boy, is incarcerated in an experimental young offenders institution, deep in the heart of the Colombian tropical forest, for a crime he committed with his friend, El Mono.
Directed by Robert Higgins, Patrick McGivney
After a violent attack on a night out, a young Gaelic footballer struggles to come to terms with a career-ending injury.
Directed by Saeed Roustaee
At 40 years old, Leila has spent her whole life taking care of her parents and her four brothers. The family argues constantly and is crushed by debts. As her brothers try to make ends meet, Leila formulates a plan to start a family business that would save them from poverty.
A Letter from Helga (Svar við bréfi Helgu)
Directed by Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir
In 1941 England, sisters Thomasina and Martha have created a machine that can intercept broadcasts from the future. This apparatus allows them to explore their inner punk. But with World War II escalating, the sisters decide to use the machine, with world-altering consequences.
Directed by Alison Millar
An intimate examination of post-conflict Northern Ireland, 25 years after the Good Friday Agreements, through the life of Lyra, dedicated journalist and queer activist, who was gunned down at the age of 29 while covering a riot in Derry
Directed by Bruno Chiche
François and his son Denis are both conductors. When François learns that he has been chosen to conduct at La Scala, he cannot believe his ears. At first thrilled for his father, Denis is quickly disillusioned when he discovers the truth: it is he who has been chosen to go to Milan.
A Man (Aru otoko)
Directed by Kei Ishikawa
After divorcing, Rie has found happiness with her second husband, Daisuke. But, when Daisuke dies in a tragic accident, she discovers her new husband was not the man she thought he was.
Directed by Clara Cullen
An intimate drama about motherhood that was shot by an all female crew in Los Angeles, Manuela is the story of a Latina nanny with a dubious history, who finds an unlikely connection with the defiant two-year-old she’s hired to look after.
My Name is Happy
Directed by Nick Read, Ayse Toprak
Aspiring popstar Mutlu (“happy” in Turkish) narrowly escapes an attempted femicide with her life. Despite life-changing injuries, she goes in search of justice and to reclaim her voice as a singer.
The Nannies (Les femmes du square)
Directed by Julien Rambaldi
To escape from a bunch of dangerous criminals, Angèle becomes a nanny in uptown Paris, working for Hélène. Upon discovering the work conditions of her colleagues, she decides to stand up for their rights, thanks to a young lawyer who quickly falls for her.
Directed by Martijn de Jong
How can Merel peacefully grieve the loss of her husband and protect her children when she knows that she has the special power of connecting with the dead?
Directed by Luke McManus
A documentary musical that travels the length of Dublin’s North Circular Road, exploring the history, music, and streetscapes of a street that links some of the country’s most beloved and infamous places.
The Other Widow (Pilegesh)
Directed by Ma’ayan Rypp
Ella, a theater dresser and mistress, experiences the sudden death of her lover. She begins to frequent his shiva and observes the life that was denied her. Eventually, she demands her legitimate right to mourn.
Directed by Narges Abyar
In a prejudiced society, a woman has no choice but to lie if the truth would lead to catastrophe and death.
Red Shoes (Zapatos rojos)
Directed by Carlos Eichelmann Kaiser
Artemio lives in the Mexican mountains. His life passes slowly and without jumps, until he receives shocking news from the capital regarding his daughter. He leaves for the City in search of redemption.
Directed by Leon Schwitter
Benny joins his distant father, Michael, on a vacation trip to the mountains, which slowly turns into an abduction from the collapsing outside world.
Directed by Sudhanshu Saria
Sanaa tells the story of a 28-year-old headstrong and ambitious woman working in Mumbai who is fighting an internal battle caused by unresolved trauma.
Directed by Zohar Wagner
The story of the woman, a 31-year-old housewife, who was at the center of the 1975 Savoy Hotel terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.
Second Act (Andra akten)
Directed by Mårten Klingberg
A story about friendship, hope, and that it’s never too late to dream and to live the life you want to live.
Directed by Caterina Mona
Semret works in a Zurich hospital and does everything to ensure a better life for her daughter, Joe. When Semret is wrongfully accused at the hospital, she decides to stand up for her rights.
The Sixth Child (Le sixième enfant)
Directed by Léopold Legrand
Franck is a scrap dealer who lives with Meriem outside of Paris. They have five children, a sixth on the way, and serious money problems. Julien and Anna are lawyers who can’t have children.
Stay With Us (Reste un peu)
Directed by Gad Elmaleh
Gad returns to France after three years in America, without admitting to his family that he did so to convert to Catholicism. Determined to bring Gad back to Judaism, they make his conversion a battlefield.
Directed by Darlene Naponse
A love story taking place in a tiny dive bar in Northern Ontario as natural disasters unfold.
Summerlight And Then Comes The Night (Sumarljós og svo kemur nóttin)
Directed by Elfar Aðalsteins
The village is brimming with stories: of the businessman who dreams in Latin and leaves his career for astronomy and old books, of a translucent boy who carves moorland birds, of an open-air affair and a rock that is chiseled to dust.
Directed by Sophie Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes created a new adaptation of TS Eliot’s masterpiece, Four Quartets. His captivating performance was captured on film by director Sophie Fiennes (Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology).
The Taste of Apples is Red (Ta’am al tufah, ahmar)
Directed by Ehab Tarabieh
In the Druze mountain villages between Syria and Israel, Kamel must make an impossible decision between family and duty when his estranged brother returns to the Golan Heights after 47 years in exile.
Three Nights A Week (Trois nuits par semaine)
Directed by Florent Gouëlou
Baptiste is in a relationship with Samia when he first meets Cookie Kunty, a young drag queen from the Parisian scene who immediately mesmerizes him.
Directed by Dubravka Turić
As the last member of what was once a big family, young scientist Ana fights with an identity crisis. The changes inside her suddenly interlace with her scientific research, until she regains her confidence and overcomes her traumas.
Valeria is Getting Married (Valeria mithatenet)
Directed by Michal Vinik
Valeria, a young Ukrainian woman, arrives in Israel to meet her future husband, for an arranged marriage brokered online. Against expectations, two sisters must each make a decision for themselves.
The Volunteer (La voluntaria)
Directed by Nely Reguera
Marisa, a recently retired doctor, decides to leave everything and travel to a refugee camp in Greece. Upon her arrival, she discovers a reality that she could never have imagined.
Wild Flowers (Girasoles silvestres)
Directed by Jaime Rosales
Wild Flowers follows the harrowing struggles of a young Spanish mother trying to flourish, despite all the men who have passed through her life.
Woman at Sea (Grand marin)
Directed by Dinara Drukarova
Lili left everything behind to travel to the edge of the earth and accomplish her dream: fishing in the Northern seas. She persuades Ian, the captain of a trawler, to let her join the crew.
The Young Arsonists
Directed by Sheila Pye
Set in the 1980s amongst the sparse landscape of an isolated farming community, four restless adolescent girls band together to escape their troubled lives by reclaiming an abandoned farmhouse as their own.
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