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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.


Santa Barbara Segue by Kimberly Deisler

Having just attended the most historic event of a lifetime, the 56th Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, I can think of no better way to segue back into community than by attending The 24th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

My personal love affair with this festival started nine years ago and each year is no less exciting than the previous year or will be as exciting as the next.  With no shortage of global representation in film offered, my first international film was Racketeer, an 80 minute film from Kazakhstan directed by Akhan Satayev.  

The film starts with a photo album narration of an ordinary childhood and progresses both in personal and third person accounts of less than ordinary lifestyle choices.  The main character's life moves in both bits and pieces and sometimes, bigger chunks, but the action doesn’t lose the audience.  The film has a nugget nestled in the third act that surprises, not to mention, directs one to contemplate choices.

This was the first time Racketeer screened in the States. 


Next up today, an audience favorite … the screenwriters panel, It Starts With The Script, moderated by Variety’s deputy editor and daily film blogger Anne Thompson.  The esteemed guests serving up anecdotes, advice, and individual process were writer/actor, Robert Knott of Appaloosa, writer/actor, Tom McCarthy of The Visitor, writer/director, Andrew Stanton of Wall-E and writer/director Dustin Lance Black of Milk. 

As with any writer’s panel, the subject of plot vs. character was called upon for debate with each panelist unanimously in favor of character as the primary facilitator of plot.  The consensus is, by knowing your characters the plot will fall into place.  To paraphrase Andrew Stanton, “People are extremely complex, you can know someone for years and never really know them, we barely even know ourselves, so in order to convey a character, and make them believable, it’s paramount to know them as much as possible; how they would react in certain situations, what they’d say or eat, etc. and in that research, you discover the plot, it works itself out.”

In essence, each film offers remarkable examples of how a character’s development and an actor’s execution transcends from the screen into our hearts, making for a memorable cinematic experience.


Having a group of creative people like the aforementioned gathered together, levity is expected and often delivered.  When asked if his success was seen as bittersweet by his family, Dustin Lance responded, "No, my mother's side is really supportive."  And when I pressed, "And your father's?"  There was a smile, a pause and a "Well, no, not so much."  Tom McCarthy echoed the sentiments of Andrew Stanton that working at Pixar offered creative freedom, an extraordinary situation for any artist working in an enormous studio, unlike his own personal experience where his studio is a room in his house and his dog is head of production.   


Moving on, this year’s Outstanding Performance of the Year Award goes to the incomparable Spanish actress, Penelope Cruz, recently nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

The expectant buzz was palpable to say the least as people wrapped around the perimeter of the secured area in hopes of catching a glimpse or scoring an autograph.  Penelope, dressed in a black, sleeveless dress looked elegant as she gracefully answered questions on the red carpet along with fellow nominee Josh Brolin, and festival jurors/actors Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite), Rodrigo Santoro (Che), and Gary Anthony Williams (Boston Legal and Co-Founder/Director) The LA Comedy Shorts 2009 Film Festival, March 5-8.  Log on to for more information.



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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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