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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.


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'My Awkward Sexual Adventure' (2012): Interview with actor Jonas Chernick

'My Awkward Sexual Adventure' (2012) is a fresh romantic comedy uniquely exploring the complications of intimacy and relationship, an innovative look at the ageless battle of the sexes. Just when I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to romantic (sex) comedies, this one sneaks out of the depths of freezing ‘Winter-peg’ (Winnipeg), Canada, and heats up the screen with love, sex, laughs and tears.

 

Read my interview with Writer/Producer/Actor Jonas Chernick here:

 

ME: Hi Jonas. So, I saw the film and loved it! Really loved it! Can you tell us briefly what the story is about?

JONAS: So, I play 'Jordan Abrams' whose girlfriend dumps him because he’s lousy in bed. He’s a nerdy accountant. That’s me. It’s a real stretch for me since I’m so cool looking. LOL. Anyway, after his girlfriend dumps him he goes on a quest to better himself and he barters with a stripper who is in financial ruin. He says “I’ll help you get our of trouble financially if you teach me about sex.”

ME: So, was the film inspired by actual events?

JONAS: It’s inspired by lots of things but it’s not autobiographical. It actually started off as something completely different, a totally different movie when we first came on board. It was a cultural comedy. I had just come out of a bad breakup and my heart was broken. So, I wrote several movies to deal with it. This is the second one to get made. So, it was about something different but through the development the other stuff kind of fell away. It was about a Jewish guy and a non-Jewish girl and there was a Passover dinner with Bar mitzvahs and Rabi etc. It was a Jewie movie. Of course of my twelve years of writing that was interesting to me, and this sort of sexual coming of age. It started off as something very personal and became something else. So, I can’t say it’s autobiographical. Of course there are themes that I’m drawing on here about male sexual confidence. There are some controversial scenes in the movie where a woman instructs the man on how to perform certain acts, which I’d never seen in a movie before, especially in a comedy. But we tried to break some new ground but it’s a fun sex comedy.

ME: So your film premiered at TIFF?

JONAS: Yeah, then Santa Barbara saw us at TIFF and said they wanted to have our US premier here.

ME: So, how was it to premier at TIFF?

JONAS: It was huge. Probably because of the title, we sold out our TIFF screenings in like an hour. We had all sold out screenings and we made a US sale. We sold to Tribeca Film who’s releasing it in the US and we sold to tons of different countries and it was this sort of this whirlwind of excitement. And subsequently, TIFF does this list of top 10 movies every year, which is a big deal every year, and we were named on their top 10 list. We also sold the remake rights to France and Korea. It was all just crazy! We got a great sales agent with Archstone and they’ve sold to almost every territory so that’s what’s happened since TIFF.

ME: Wow! That’s great! So, Jonas, you act in the film as well as write and produce. What was that like to wear all those hats?

JONAS: It was really fun. I’m an actor first and foremost so I write and produce with Juliette so I could act in it. So, it’s like a dream come true. It’s a great role that I wrote for myself, and it was so much fun. The six weeks of shooting was one of the best experiences of my life. And luckily when we started shooting, I had Juliette who was a great mentor and she taught me how to produce. I was able to kind of hang up the producer hat a little and just act. I was just a sponge learning. We actually complimented each other really well because there are things you’re successful at as a producer. There are things I’m stronger at and things she is stronger at so we were a really great producing team.

ME: Juliette, you’ve done some other films.

JONAS: I’m going to talk Juliette up. She’s has a gigantic resume but I have to say, this year is a huge year for her. At TIFF she was included as one of the best producers picking up steam now.

ME: That’s awesome. So, how did you all meet?

JONAS: This is the fourth feature Sean and I have made together. We were making movies together for about twelve years. I knew I wanted to do a cheap film in Winnipeg and I needed a Winnipeg producer. There are a handful of them but we found Juliette. I kind of cold called Juliette. I knew of her but we’d never met. But I gave her the script and she read it and she said: “I want to make this movie”. Juliette has a reputation for tenacity but I wanted her because she’s the one who will get it done no matter what. She doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. But she does it in a nice way and people love her. We got a lot of doors slammed in our face but we got it done. We were really determined to make the film with the cast that we wanted but distributors wanted us to cast different people but we got a new Canadian distributor who supported us, Phase 4 Films.

ME: Are there any anecdotes you’d like to share that happened while filming?

JONAS: Well, there’s a part in the film where I have to perform cunnilingus on a piece of fruit. It’s a cantaloupe in the film but it’s supposed to be a peach. In the script it was a peach but we were shooting in the dead of winter in the coldest place in Canada and there was no peaches in the whole province. I had to audition the other fruits available and we ended up with a cantaloupe. And the very first day of shooting we were shooting a rub and tug scene so there was a lot of nudity in the scene and an unusual day. Another incident that took place was on our first day of shooting. There was a car accident right our front of the place. All our crew’s cars got smashed, Juliette’s car got smashed, parked cars too, and there was snow and just total chaos.

ME: Oh no! Well, you made an amazing film anyway. So, how is the film doing on the festival circuit?

JONAS: The film is doing really well on the festival circuit. We’ve been to several festivals in Canada and we’ve won awards at all three of our Canadian festivals. At Toronto we were named one of the top ten films of the year, which is crazy. We won the People’s Choice Award for Best Film at the Calgary Film Festival and then we played the Whistler Film Festival and we wont the Audience Award there. So we keep winning the Audience Awards everywhere, which is great.

 

'My Awkward Sexual Adventure' premiered at Toronto International film festival where it won TIFF’s Top Ten films of 2012. It has since then won audience awards at Calgary Film Festival and Whistler Film Festival in Canada and has been sold for remake rights in Korea and France, as well as been distributed to over 15 territories around the world.

The film stars: Gemini Award winner, Jonas Chernick who also wrote and co-produced An Awkward Sexual Adventure, Genie nominated actress Emily Hampshire, Vik Sahay known for his role on NBC’s hit show Chuck, and Sarah Manninen.

 

Interview by, and written by Vanessa McMahon

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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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