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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.


Mirren and Whittaker shine at S.A.G. Awards and Santa Barbara

by Alex Deleon, Santa Barbara

This is the jolly season of awards in Southern California -- seems like there's a different one every week somewhere in L.A. or vicinity. Following the Golden Globes (Foreign Press Awards) a couple of weeks back we now have the Screen Actors Guild (S.A.G.) awards which are similar and yet a bit different. Both sets of awards go to both film and television personalities, but the Globes recognize all kinds of categories (writers, directors, producers, etc. as do the Oscars) whereas the SAG awards are limited to performers only -- i.e., actors and actresses. Also, the Globe ceremony is held in a kind of intimate night club setting whereas the SAG show is staged in the giant Shrine Auditorium in South LA, a bit away from Hollywood proper.
The Globes are viewed as a kind of precursor or weathervane of the Academy Awards which come up at the end of February and are, needless to say, the Main Event of the feverish local awards season. Often, but not always, films and personalities awarded with globes grab Oscars as well, and a globe in itself bears a certain prestige whether the recipient also receives an Oscar or not. A SAG award is -- well -- some sort of professional recognition, but is not likely to boost the bankability of the awardee in question to any discernible degree.

The list of SAG winners was by and large a replay of the Golden Globes and, for the record, here are the winners by category;
Male actor in a leading role: Forest Whitaker, for "The Last King of Scotland" in which, in spite of the rather misleading title, he portrays not a Scottish king but a notorious African dictator, Idi Amin, who was kind of a black Hitler in Uganda until he was finally ousted in a coup and eventually died in luxurious Saudi Arabian exile. Amin was also the subject of a full length documentary by French director Barbet Schroeder in 1974 revealing him to be a completely psychotic, bloodthirsty madman. I have not yet seen the film but find it interesting that Whitaker who usually plays rather sympathetic roles chose to do this one. "Last King" was premiered at
Toronto in September and is directed by Kevin MacDonald, 39, who though a native of Scotland is the grandson of legendary filmmaker Emeric Pressburger, who, with partner Michael Powell directed a long list of English classics including "Black Narcissus" and "The Red Shoes". Curious to see what the Scottish connection will turn out to be. When Whittaker received his Golden Globe for the same role he was so overcome with emotion that he nearly burst into tears. If he also picks up an Oscar for the same role there better be somebody there to hiold him up. Forrest, now 44, is a very versatile black actor who has been around for a long time -- (his breakthrough role was the Black British soldier captured by IRA terrorists in Neil Jordans' "The Crying Game" , 1992) -- has paid a lot of dues and is truly worthy of the recognition he is finally receiving. He will also receive a special evening and award later this week at the Santa Barbara film festival. Good show, buddy! You deserve it.

Female ACTOR (ha-ha, that's the Politcally Karreck word for "actress") in a leading role: Guess who -- Could it possibly be that impossibly sexy 61 year old English lady again? -- Yep, who else but Dame Helen Mirren (nee, Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov) for her portrayal of the currently sitting queen of England in this year's most talked about picture, "The Queen", directed by
Stephen Frears. This picture had its world premiere at the Venice film festival back in September where Dame Helen left Meryl Streep in her dust in the contention for Best Actress at that prestige event. Since then everywhere she turns she's been plastered with awards to the extent that it's getting to be almost ridiculous. Both here and at the Golden Globes she got TWO prizes, one for the movie "The Queen", and another for best TV actress in the HBO miniseries "Elizabeth I". That's two bigtime queens in one year which is a helluva stretch for an actress who just three years ago played a full-fontally nude working class frump at the age of 58 in
"Calendar Girls", the distaff counterpart of "The Full Monty". And then she literally "knocked 'em dead" at the opening gala of the Santa Barbara fest where she received the "Outsttanding Performance of the Year" award.
What gets me about Mirren is that, when I saw her at the Santa Barbara Film Festival the other night, in person on stage and on a giant screen above that -- with many clips from her extremely varied pictures -- I literally fell in love with her, madly and totally -- and yet I cannot remember her from any of the films I have seen her in before this over the years. The short list; Gosford Park (Altman, 2001), The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Greenaway, 1989), The Mosquito Coast (1986-- opposite Harrison Ford no less!), 2010 (1984, as a Russian astronaut!), John Boorman's Excalibur (1981), Caligula -- the sleazy mainstream porno film of 1979, and
Lindsay Andersen's famous "O Lucky Man", 1973 -- All films which I have seen, and not a single one of which I can picture the Helen Mirren who was in it! -- I find this very strange and I plan to rent every single one of these movies ASAP so I can see what the hell is wrong with my brain -- or is it that she is just a cameleon? In any case, yesterday Helen Mirren was just a name -- at least on this side of the Atlantic, and today she is the hottest household word going in the Hollywood film community -- and an apparent shoo-in for the Best Actress Oscar. Talk about "late bloomers", and by that I do not mean 'underpants' -- or was that a Freudian slip and I do? What has this woman done to me as she keeps brushing that obstreperous strand of lovely blonde hair back from her forehead with a seemingly unconscious flip of the wrist? Am I losing my grip ... ? ... or my mind!...
or my marbles

In accepting her award La Helen said, (according to the LA Times) "Be still my beating heart. It's been an incredible night for me personally." And of the queen she plays, "I learned to love a person without vanity." Well, I wonder what that vain old lady over there at Buckingham palace is going to say about that. I happened to be in England at the time Liz II finally went on television to tell the English people how sorry she felt about Princess Diana's death. If that wasn't the bonfire of the vanities I don't know what was -- and the ultimate-ultimate in Crocodile tears. But -- grrr -- I still haven't seen the movie -- only clips in Santa Barbara which made me fear that Tony Blair is going to put a contract out on the guy who played him. Anyway, without remembering her from a single picture I've seen her in, I am now a die-hard Helen Mirren fan, whether I like it or not. This IS the sexiest and most elegant sixty-one year old woman alive, and you can take THAT to the bank!

And, hmm -- let's see -- The other awards were:
Male Supporting actor, Eddie Murphy, for "Dreamgirls" -- Good show, Murph. Female supporting actor (-ess), Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls" - Can't wait to see it.
Cast in a motion picture; Everybody -- in "Little Miss Sunshine" ( I can wait to see it)

Best actor in a miniseries -- Jeremy Irons, in "Elizabeth I", (HBO) opposite H. Mirren --lucky dog!
Best actress in a miniseries -- Dame Ilyena Vasilievna Mironova ...(Haven't we met somewhere?)
Actor, Drama series -- Hugh Laurie, (English) "House" Actress, drama series, Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy"
Actor, Comedy series, Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Actress, comedy series, America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"
Ensemble in a drama series, "Grey's Anatomy"

Three of the four Movie awards went to black ("Afro-American") actors, which is ethnographically unusual for Hollywood, and England was strongly represented overall with, Mirren, Jeremy Irons, and Hugh Laurie. One begins to sense certain winds of change in the Hollywood airs.

ALEX DELEON, Santa Barbara


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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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