Audience Choice Award sponsored by 'The Santa Barbara Independent': '26.2 TO LIFE' directed by Christine Yoo | Credit: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF

From a slate of 200 films from 43 countries — including filmmakers from as far as Turkey, India, Israel, and Sierra Leone, half of whom were women, according to Santa Barbara International Film Festival Programming Director Claudia Puig — the following films received awards at a breakfast ceremony with Jury and Filmmakers in attendance at El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, on February 18. 

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: 26.2 TO LIFE Directed by Christine Yoo

Josef Woodard speaks at the Awards Breakfast | Credit: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: I LIKE MOVIES Directed by Chandler Levack

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: A MAN (ARU OTOKO) Directed by Kei Ishikawa

Best Documentary Award: A BUNCH OF AMATEURS Directed by Kim Hopkins

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: MANUELA Directed by Clara Cullen

Best Middle Eastern/Israeli Film Award: THE TASTE OF APPLES IS RED (TA’AM AL TUFAH, AHMAR) Directed by Ehab Tarabieh


Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: BLACK MAMBAS Directed by Lena Karbe

Winners of the Best Nordic Film Award for ‘Summerlight and then Comes the Night’ Elfar Adalsteins and Anna Maria Pitt | Credit: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF

ADL Stand Up Award, sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, the Skinner Social Impact Fund, and Steve & Cindy Lyons: THE QUIET GIRL (AN CAILÍN CIÚIN) Directed by Colm Bairéad

Best Documentary Short Film Award: NOWHERE TO GO BUT EVERYWHERE (行き止まりのむこう側) Directed by Masako Tsumura, Erik Shirai

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film: THE MOISTURE (RUTUBET) Directed by Turan Haste (*Now eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards)

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: EPICENTER (소문의 진원지) Directed by Heeyoon Hahm (*Now eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards)

The films were chosen by jury members Robert Abele, Jeff Arch, Christina Birro, Tim Cogshell, Lela Meadow Conner, Gwen Deglise, Leslie Ekker, Perry Lang,Elizabeth Marighetto, Antonio Marziale, Tim Matheson, Nicole Noren,  Jean Oppenheimer, Steven Raphael, Margy Rochlin, and Angie Wang.

“Cinema is one of the most powerful vehicles for empathy, providing a window of understanding to all who seek to look through it.  We thank the filmmakers in attendance and our avid Santa Barbara audience for so heartily embracing the festival experience. Several films prompted standing ovations and packed theaters, marking 2023 a full-throttled return to celebrating cinema from around the globe,” stated Puig.


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