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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 Interview with Leslie Zemeckis “GRANDE HORIZONTALES”

Santa Barbara International Film Festival -March 2022

Interview by Roxanna Bina

Grandes Horizontale Premiering at the 37th Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival   


From the award-winning director Leslie Zemeckis ( of Bound by FleshMabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer and Behind the Burly Q comes a documentary about the lives, loves and enduring influence of the Grandes Horizontales. A never before in-depth look at the culture of the courtesan. 



Why did you choose this subject matter?


Leslie: I am also writing something book-wise in this era and about women in this era. I think generally this subject matter has been treated kind of dismissive of these women. I really wanted to explore what their lives were really like and so I just thought i should go and make a doc on that. I went to this exhibit in Paris about 5 years ago - huge exhibit- all about their lives and about prostitution, so not just about Grand Horizontales , but of all levels.l it was sold out and magnificent show, so I thought this is the so timely even for a documentary.


What do the women of Grande Horizontales represent to you?


Leslie: Finding power in a time where there was little power for women. You know women at the time couldn’t get divorces from their husbands , they couldn’t own property, but their husbands and family were able to. But for the Grand Horizontales, they could own their own property, so they had a little more control over their lives. Most of them were born in a society where they could not have risen above. They could not marry above, they couldn’t have gathered riches any other way. They didn’t have a bad ending like a lot of writers at that time. They were muses to many artists of all levels from sculptors to painters to writers. They didn’t have a bad, sad ending that a lot of the authors at the time portrayed.


How is this subject relevant and timely today, especially in the age of Me Too and women’s emancipation and rights?


Leslie: It’s women being able to make their choices whenever they were limited in their choices the women back then as they are now. And if they want to use sex to get ahead, then why should they be shamed or made lesser than ? They were doing the best they could for the times…. and a lot better than other women at the time only because of their circumstances. If you’re born into a certain society and your husband beats you, well then it’s too bad… these women didn’t have to put up with any of that bad behavior because they chose who was going to take care of them. they could say no and they did say no. They set the rules and they had their own homes and the deeds were in their name. They created a real life for themselves.


What challenges did you face making this movie?


Leslie: I don’t feel like I had a lot of challenges making the film. I think talking about it to some people is a challenge. Some people are hesitant that I maybe glorifying that profession, which is not… I think it’s just that we don’t need to condemn or condone, we just need to understand them.


What does the Santa Barbara International Film Festival mean to you?


Leslie: It’s so prestigious… I’ve had something like my third film there. they treat the filmmakers so well, so I’m super honored that it will have its world premiere there, even though I’ve won awards in other festivals and it hasn’t shown publicly yet. But, the SBIFF ( ) is film maker friendly and really, really wonderful.





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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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