The 34th Edition

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The 34th Edition

Maggie Newell

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become “one of the most important stops on the annual road to the Oscars.”

This February, SBIFF will hold it’s 34th annual Film Festival in the historic Arlington Theatre.

The prestige of the festival is in large part due to the high Academy member population density associated with the Santa Barbara region.

Looking forward to the upcoming event, Roger Durling, executive director of the festival said to the Hollywood Reporter, “We love that after this past difficult year, Santa Barbara is anxiously ready to welcome once again more world-class filmmakers.”

This year, they look to not disappoint. For years the festival brought us some of the most creative and talented artists in their field, with previous nominees including Robert De Niro, Emma Stone, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Greta Gerwig, and Christopher Nolan.

SBIFF as a foundation acts as a local non-profit whose mission is to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. They use their donations to provide “impactful educational experiences” for “local, national and global communities.”

There are numerous programs that exist under the Film Festival that many are unaware of, spanning a wide variety of participants.

Many provide low-income families and children with access to cinema, such as AppleBox and Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, whilst others educate students in developing their passion for film.

The Rosebud Program, for example, is a free program that gives film students the unique opportunity to attend numerous pre-release screenings and engage with some of the most well-renowned professionals in the industry.

This year, the festival will run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 9.

Here’s a closer look at a few of the must-see tributes coming to Santa Barbara:


The Virtuosos Award

The Virtuosos Award recognizes rising performers whose unique depiction of their character makes them stand out from the film despite being overshadowed by more traditionally commended roles.

In previous years, this prestigious award went to a collection of performers, diverging in age, ethnicity, and gender.

Overall, the Virtuosos tends to draw a younger crowd to the event due to the appeal of the actors present.

Each recipient is given their own allocated time to discuss their film and then a group Q&A follows. The light-hearted nature makes this tribute one of the most popular to watch at the festival.


Montecito Award

honoring Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy will be recognized for her bold and brutal performance in “Can You Ever Forgive “Me?”, a true story depicting Lee Israel’s literary forgery in order to sustain financial stability.

On giving her the recognition, Durling said, “She’s funny, dark, caustic and oh so vulnerable. SBIFF is so pleased to be able to award this performance and her career so far.”

The Montecito Award is awarded to members of the entertainment industry who have made a significant contribution to cinema.

Past recipients of the award include Saoirse Ronan, Daniel-Day Lewis, Julianne Moore and Javier Bardem, among others.



Maltin Modern Master Award

honoring Glenn Close

It is the 28th year for American film critic and historian Leonard Maltin’s to moderate this event, which was renamed after him in 2015.

Glenn Close is set to receive the honor for her performance in “The Wife.”

On Close, Maltin stated to Deadline, “[She] is one of the great actresses of our time. Versatility is her hallmark, and there is clearly nothing she can’t do… I can’t wait to spend an evening with her onstage at the Arlington Theater.”

The Modern Master Award founded in 1995, ‘is the highest accolade’ presented during the film festival.

According to the Film Festival’s website, the award was “Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry.”


American Riviera Award

honoring Viggo Mortensen

“Green Book” co-star Vig- go Mortensen will be up for the American Riviera Award in February. Because of San- ta Barbara’s long-established association as the “Ameri- can Riviera,” the film festival “proudly places this trademarked name on our award for outstanding achievement in American film.”

Mortensen is among other greats to have received this award, including Tommy Lee Jones, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Annette Bening and many more.

In the dramedy “Green Book,” Mortensen stars alongside Mahershala Ali as a prejudiced New York bouncer who drives pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Ali) around the South in the ‘60s.

“As Tony Lip in “Green Book,” he delivers the capstone to his remarkable career. He encapsulates the American Riviera Award. We greatly admire and love him,” Durling said.


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