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Santa Barbara is covering live from Santa Barbara with pictures and videos.
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.


Montecito Award to Penelope Cruz at the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Day 7 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a tribute to Penelope Cruz, who received the Montecito Award. Cruz was recognized for her impressive career and performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS from Sony Pictures Classic.

Cruz sat down with SBIFF Executive Director, Roger Durling, for an in depth discussion about her journey to stardom and her impressive career in film and television.

Photo Credit: Getty/Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Highlights from the night included:

  • A red hot Cruz dons red cape dress by Chanel - See HERE
  • Javier Bardem, a previous winner of the SBIFF Montecito Award, beams with pride watching his wife from the audience, see HERE!
  • On what she enjoys most about acting: “As an actor we are always new. We are always starting from zero, so you never get to a place where you can feel too comfortable. I feel like that is the motivation everyday, the real pure fear that we need to accomplish what we have to do.”
  • On working with her husband, Javier Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona: “I would watch everything he did and I was shocked and blown away by his talent. And then it was a movie that put us together… we hadn’t worked together in a long time but we had been friends… and after that movie, everything changed.”
  • Working with Daniel Day Lewis in Nine: “It was a dream working with him. He’s really, really generous and so talented.”
  • Getting permission from Donatella Versace to play her in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: “She told me, ‘If somebody’s gonna play me, I am happy that it’s you because I know you will do it with respect and with love.’ Without that phone call, I couldn’t say yes.”
  • Her reaction to both her and Bardem receiving Oscar nominations this year: “It was crazy, it was beautiful. I still, today, don't believe that it has happened that way… When they announced Javier’s name for Best Actor I started to scream and he was not moving, not reacting! …He was waiting because he thought maybe they were going to say my name too, and I said ‘One, almost impossible. Two at the same time? Totally impossible.’ And then they said my name and that is when he started screaming! I loved his reaction so much, all my attention went to his generosity…what a beautiful reaction and so honest, he really could not enjoy his news until he heard my name.”
  • On the possibility of working with director Pedro Almodóvar on more films in the future: “I would love to do more. It is my passion, spending time with him, working with him. I enjoy every second of the time we spend together, so I really hope so!”


During Cruz’s conversation with Durling, guests enjoyed clips from her acting career, including All About My Mother, Nine, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Broken Embraces, Parallel Mothers and more. 


Following Cruz’s conversation with Durling, she was treated to a surprise personal message from Sophia Loren. While presenting the award Loren told Cruz, “The day I met you on the set of Nine more than twelve years ago, I knew that you would be part of my life forever. I knew I found a sister, a daughter, a colleague and a great, great friend.”

Watch HERE.


Upon accepting her award, Cruz said, “It’s really difficult not to cry after seeing my friend Sophia dedicate those words to me. I love her with all my heart… Thank you, Santa Barbara International Film Festival. I have so many great memories because I was here many years ago with Roger, who is always so kind and so generous to us… I want to share this with Pedro and use this opportunity to thank him again for his trust, for pushing me, for being able to imagine me doing things that I cannot even imagine myself doing.”

Watch HERE. (4:51)


The Montecito Award is named after one of the most beautiful and stylish areas in Santa Barbara. Past recipients include Amanda Seyfreid, Lupita Nyong’o, Melissa McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan, Isabelle Huppert, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Bill Condon, and Naomi Watts.


Upcoming live conversations and tributes will include presentations to Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch, and the women's panel. The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, will take place IN-PERSON through March 12, 2022. 200+ films, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout Santa Barbara, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. This year’s lineup is available on SBIFF’s mobile app. For additional information or to buy passes, visit 


About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film. In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning. 

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About Santa Barbara

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

Blogging here with dailies: 
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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