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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.


SBIFF 2022 Interview with Marcus Mizelle: director of Belle Vie


SBIFF 2022

With Director: Marcus Mizelle



By Emmanuel Itier

In-jailed between a Mc Donald and a KFC, stands proud and fearless the Parisian-style bistro: “Belle Vie” run by passionate maestro: Vincent Samarco. Director Marcus Mizelle explores what it takes to keep your passion alive and going, especially during a pandemic. But ‘Belle Vie’ is more than a gourmet journey into the heart of a passionate human being it’s truly exploring the meaning of life in a time when everything seems meaningless and people seem to give up so easily, abandoning their destiny into a dead-end path. He is a story of resilience, of courage and of persistence. These are the reasons of what turns dreams into realities.



Q: Tell me about the inspiration and the idea to make this documentary?


Marcus: It started with me being a patron of this restaurant. For four years before the pandemic. One day I was asking Vincent about how his business was doing. He replied he was going to build a patio in the back. And as I was living his place, I had a vision and I asked him about filming him doing so. And here I was, getting myself into making a documentary about Vincent and his “Belle Vie” bistro. The intention was to, at first, just make a portrait of a restaurant trying to survive in a time of a pandemic. For me it was also about a “hero’s journey” through all the tough times that covid 19 threw at us.


Q: Where there challenges beyond the pandemic?


Marcus: Yes, I had to figure out truly what I was making. What were the themes I wanted to address with this documentary.  For sure it’s an immigrant story. It’s also a restaurant story and it’s a Los Angeles story. As well as a love story. His love for his wife and for the city of Los Angeles. It’s movie full of heart. With a documentary there is no way to know where it’s going. But you listen to what speaks to you and it’s getting a shape of its own at the end. For example, I realized his place was located between a Mc Donald and a KFC so it became clear it was about a “mom and pop” business facing the big corporate giants. It’s a little bit the story of David and the Goliaths. Figuring those story elements was my main challenge.


Q: What did you learn about making this film? Any lessons you got from doing it?


Marcus: Well, I found out that the people running the covid protocol were not so knowledgeable about what they were doing. Especially in terms of changing constantly the rules for small business owners. Which made their lives hell and their business, sometimes, close to bankruptcy. The government has very little awareness and understanding of what small businesses are all about. Looking also at Vincent being so positive about everything it reminded me that in life you have to look at the bright side of things. If not it’s so easy to get discouraged and give up. He made me passionate about what I’m doing as a filmmaker. Finally, I learned that the documentary is so real and so authentic and it creates a special relationship with an audience because it’s all about the truth and the reality of life.


Q: Ultimately what do you hope people take from this film?


Marcus: No matter how hard things get, it’s all about how you react. And that is what determinate what comes next for you. You need to find some sort of silver lining is key. It’s about accepting what’s going on but it’s about processing it and adapting yourself to such or such situation in order to turn things around. At the end, be grateful for what you have. I hope also people understand how tough it is for immigrants to come here and to adjust, and to survive by working extra hard. I like also that we were able to document this unique time in History. More than anybody, the restaurant business was very affected by the covid 19.




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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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