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SBIFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and education organization dedicated to making a positive impact utilizing the power of film. SBIFF is a year-round organization that is best known for its main film festival that takes place each year in February. Over the past 30 years the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums. We bring the best of independent and international cinema to Santa Barbara, and we continue to expand our year-round operation to include a wide range of educational programming, fulfilling our mission to engage, enrich and inspire our community through film.

In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. The theatre is SBIFF’s new home and is the catalyst for our program expansion. This marks the first time that Santa Barbara has had a 24/7 community center focused on the art of film and is an incredible opportunity to expand our mission of educational outreach. Particularly important to SBIFF is making available high quality learning opportunities for underserved and vulnerable populations. Our programs and reach are more robust than ever before.


'Caesar Must Die' at 28th SBIFF

Winner of last year’s Golden Bear Award for Best Film in Berlin 2012 was the Italian film ‘Cesare Deve Morire’ (Caesar Must Die, 2012). Directed by art-house filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (Padre Padrone, Night of the Shooting Stars and Kaos), the film is set in the Rebibbia prison in Rome and tells the story about a group of prisoners (from murderers to mafia) who love Shakespeare so much that they perform the play ‘Julius Caesar’ from within their jail cells. Filmed in black and white in cinema-verite documentary style it is an awe-inspiring and uplifting tale about how even in the darkest and most seemingly hopeless places of human existence, art can and does save lives. “L’art salva la vita.” I interviewed producer Grazia Volpi in Cannes during the 65th Cannes Film Festival about her experience making this film. This is what she said:


ME: Can you tell us what the film is about for those who haven’t seen it and what inspired the directors to make this fictional tale about real-life prisoners?

GRAZIA: It’s about a very particular and diverse experience. The directors love to work with those who have the need to change, to understand, to work in a way so that they can rise above their present situation. As a result, many of the prisoners have studied, many are very educated, and many had written books about their experience. We had a script and we had to decide to make a film not only redoing a theatrical scene but to represent Julius Caesar not just for the stage but also to show their daily lives in the jail cell. And it was all for recharging the human spirit of these prisoners.

GRAZIA CONT’D: We saw Shakespeare's ‘The Tempest’ and we also saw ‘The Inferno’ by Dante, and in their inferno of prison they identified with the characters in Dante and that was a grand thing. A friend of theirs had been invited to see their play in the prison. The filmmakers went to see it to have a feeling for it but they had no idea what to expect. Afterwards they decided to front a formidable theater company with these real-life prisoners who have inside them a grand experience of pain and complicated stories who express more than a normal story. They express a quality of their own age and their own life so they act out their great problems and reality with force and conviction. This shows that in prison these people were able to become reeducated and change; because after all, they are human beings, and culture and art changes people. These people grew up in hard environments so they were sent to prison but they changed.

GRAZIA CONT’D: In sum, art saves lives. L’art salva la vita. Art changes and transforms people in a way that is spiritual. When people grow up in much poverty where people die young and there is much difficulty they have a character of music and alegria where they let themselves sing and dance to save themselves from their misery. To make cinema and culture to face social and human problems is my choice. I have the life where I want to help people. I don’t make cinema for business or for money. I make cinema to serve someone that needs help and I love that so much. L’art salva la vita.

'Caesar Must Die' recently played at the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.


Written and transcribed (from Italian) by Vanessa McMahon


Winner: Golden Bear, Berlin Film Festival. Best Film, Best Director, David di Donatello Awards (Italian Oscars) DIRECTOR: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani 
Producer: Grazia Volpi
Editor: Roberto Perpignani
Screenwriter: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
Cinematographer: Simone Zampagni
Music: Giuliano Taviani, Carmelo Travia
Principal Cast: Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano, Giovanni Arcuri, Antonio Frasca, Vincenzo Gallo
Filmography: The Lark Farm (2007), Elective Affinities (1996), Fiorile (1993), Night Sun (1990), Good Morning Babylon (1987), Kaos (1984), The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982), Padre Padrone (1977)

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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has star wattage and a wealth of premieres in a Mediterrean-style city by the sea.

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The team of editors of the The Santa Barbara Blog:
Carol Marshall, Felicia Tomasko, Vanessa McMahon, Marla and Mark Hamperin, Kim Deisler and Bruno Chatelin

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