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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 the team behind "OUR WORDS COLLIDE"


SBIFF 2022


Interview with Directors Jordan Barrow and Matt Edwards, Producers Diane Luby Lane and Samuel Curties ( ) and poets: Jason Alvarez, Amari Turner and Virginia Villalta.

And with Anti-Defamation League regional director: Dan Meisel

By Emmanuel Itier

“Life is a living poem”, Boris Vian, the French poet, was so right and “Our Words Collide”, the doc directed by Jordan Barrow and Matt Edwards, is truly a living poem as it explores the paths of several young men and women finding their inner voice and their meaning of life. This is truly a charming and inspiring invitation to a journey within your soul. Open all your senses and let the rhythm guide you through this “tour de force” of cinema.


Q: What made you want to be part of this Doc and what were your expectations?


Jordan: We spent the last 15 years working with major artists and we met these young poets a lightbulb went off for us. They have a similar process to musical artists, but they approach it in a different way. They are able to express themselves through their writing in such a powerful and evocative way. I think as storytellers this was appealing to us. We wanted to take our experience of working with musical artist and put that through the prism of poetry. Especially with young people we thought they had such incredible stories to share but they don’t necessarily have the opportunities to share them. So we wanted to be a partner and a collaborator to help them amplify their messages.


Matt: We wanted to give a platform to some of these kids who didn’t have the opportunity to express themselves.


Diane:  As the executive director of and an executive producer for this film, I have been looking to put together a documentary telling the stories of these young people. Many people approached us to do so. Who are these young poets, where do they come from? What is their world and how do they do what they do? It’s very hard to put together such a movie. But Matt and Jordan managed to do it. They are so quiet and sensitive and they allowed it to unfold and let the poets lead with their own stories. It speaks to the young generations who experienced covid 19 and who were not able to really experience their graduation. It was amazing to capture all of these energies, like a time capsule of these special times.


Jason: I’m 20 years old and I really wanted to share my story and my poems with a larger audience than the one I have when I perform. I hope people will enjoy our film and be inspired. I hope they will realize they are not alone. I hope, then, that they will find the way to share “their stories” as well.


Amari: I’m also turning 20 this year. When I was approached to do this film, I also thought it was a great opportunity to share my story. It was great to have to share my poems with a wider audience as well and to see how they would react after a screening. I hope it affect people in some ways, I hope it makes them feel something. This is why I did it.


Virginia: And I’m also 20 years old this year, haha! I didn’t really know how big this film was going to be. I just thought it was going to be a fun little project. But when I started filming for the women march, I realized it was going to affect to many people. I’m grateful this is turning into a much bigger event than I thought.


Dan Meisel: We considered giving a special Award from the Anti-Defamation League to several pictures but this one was the most impressive. It’s a story of rising out from pain and special circumstances through art. The window it opens to the experiences of this very diverse set of youths, this is not our everyday life. For us to experience the lives of these kids through their art is both inspiring and informative.  


Q: Was there a specific challenge to put together this movie?


Jordan: Time was the biggest challenge. We really wanted to give the time to these young people. You have to give them time in order for them to be ready to share what they want to share. It was amazing when they were sharing their poetry and to figure out how we could use that in our documentary. It took time to get to this point and this is why it took two years to complete this movie. We wanted to build a relationship with these poets and earn their trust. This is why the film has such a deep personal level because we spent lots of time with them.


Matt: I agree, it was necessary to take the time to develop deep personal relationships with each of the poets featured in this film. At the end it’s such an intimate and inspiring movie.


Q: What does poetry mean to you and how did it transform you?


Diane: I discovered poetry in my early 20’s. So many times we are grappling things in our lives and there is no words for them. If we can find the right words then we can wrap our head around them. If we can’t find the right words, all these feelings are bouncing around inside of us. We can try to find advices from people but it doesn’t really quite resonate. And sometimes when you read a line in a book, or you hear a song it can really hit you, and it’s exactly what’s you’re trying to say. In my youth poetry was so important, sometimes it rocketed in my brain and made me realize I’m not alone. Poetry is timeless, it’s alive as it always was. Poetry is the great connector of what is emerging and what has been. Claim your poem, claim your life.


Jason: After all these years, I realize that poetry is like giving a piece of yourself to people. Metaphorically, you’re sharing all your scars, your stories, your flame, with others. Stuffs you don’t usually share. Poetry is what you want to bring to the table for people to look at. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter how old you are but it’s all about your emotions and how you convey them to others. It’s like a magic trip. Poetry has allowed me to deeply express myself. And it’s great to see how people, sometimes, resonate with such and such part of your poetry. It’s great to share a connection with another person.


Amari: Poetry gave me the voice and the confidence that I never thought I had in me. Like Jason said, it allowed me to express myself. And poetry is so vulnerable. You can see when people get up there and perform. And you can see how they poetry is so personal. It’s also a way for me to write about what I was going through growing up. It helped me talk about my emotions in ways I never could before.


Virginia: Poetry, definitely, made me realize how powerful I could be. I don’t think it made me a different person, but it made me uncover who I know I could always become. Poetry was the cocoon and I was the little caterpillar. Poetry is in every part of my life, whether I walk to class or get out of work…and suddenly a line for a poem comes to me. Every moment is poetry. It’s this weird invigorating experience and being able to see the world in order to uncover pieces of art from it.


Q: What is your take away with this film, what is the impact it can create with the young audience watching it?


Dan: As much as youths and these circumstances need help; help exists. They able to work through these concepts and discussing them with each other, and with adults. The therapy in doing so provides an avenue for the future. The resilience these young people are showing is inspiring to all of us.


Diane: Right now we have a crisis with education in America, and with covid 19 it is even worse than ever. So, this is the hope a film like this remind young people there are not alone. Share your feeling, create communities through spoken words. This is all deeply healing. The Get Lit program is in the school hour and it’s implemented during English class. I want the world to see this movie and to bring it to their classroom. We just also built an on-line platform called ‘Universe’, where kids in classrooms in India talk to kids in classroom in California.


Samuel: This is our second movie with ‘Literary riot’ and it won’t be the last. It’s part of what we called “the poetic new wave”. It’s the rise of poets in films and television. We look back at French cinema and how Truffaut and Godart made their art with just a pen, a paper and a camera. Without big budget and big Hollywood sets. We hope this film will bring the platform of poets to so many others. We just announced the poetic screenwriter lab with the Writers Guild foundation and “Final Draft”. This is to help poets turn their poems into films and into narrative podcasts. The poetic new wave, inspired by the French new wave, is on its way!


Jordan: Everyone has a story to share. Everyone’ story is valid. The more we can be communicative, the more that we can share our stories then, the more we realize how connected we are. It gives us a sense of community and this is incredibly important in life.


Matt: Teenagers are going through so many emotions in their lives, and there are so many mental health issues, so, I just think that young people being able to see our movie, our poets, they will be able to relate to them. And this way they will realize they are not alone. Nobody is alone in this world. We can all learn from each other. Poetry is an outlet people can use to overcome lots of obstacles in life.

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