The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival

SBIFF welcomes more films and Oscar nominees than ever before

By Charles Donelan | March 3, 2022

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Our city’s biggest cultural event, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), opens Wednesday, March 2, with a slate of films drawn from more submissions than ever before. According to SBIFF’s new programming director, Claudia Puig, the festival received around 5,000 applications from filmmakers from 54 countries. The result of this unprecedented demand for inclusion is an excitement-packed program and series of screenings that runs from 8 a.m. until late evening every day between March 2 and closing night. of March 12.

Known around the world as a critical stop on the road to the Oscars, this year’s SBIFF fulfills that role in an extraordinary way. At least 12 Oscar nominees will appear this year, and every recipient of the festival’s celebrity tribute awards comes to town with a nomination.

This list is truly amazing. Of the five men vying for Best Actor in a Leading Role, three – Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch and Javier Bardem – are receiving SBIFF awards. Of the five women nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, three others – Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart and Penélope Cruz – will also be honoured.

Two of the women nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Aunjanue Ellis and Ariana DeBose, will be in attendance. Three directors in the running for the Oscar for best director will participate in the panel of directors – Kenneth Branagh, Jane Campion and Steven Spielberg. And let’s not forget the Variety Artisans panel, which showcases the creations of designers, filmmakers and songwriters like Lin-Manuel Miranda, who will be present thanks to his work on Encantowhich has a nomination in the Best Song category.

On top of all that star power, the festival engages film in a way that goes far beyond Hollywood. Programming director Puig cites films from 54 countries as an indicator of SBIFF’s true internationalization. She sees the festival as a way for people to get rare experiences, “to see what it’s like to climb Mount Everest with someone from Nepal or surf in Bangladesh as the first woman to surf there- low”. Not only will we have the chance to travel the world through these international lenses, but we will also have the opportunity to meet the people who made the films. Puig reports an unprecedented level of interest from filmmakers to attend the festival, which can be attributed to the fact that SBIFF is one of the only major film festivals this year to offer an in-person experience. . The Palm Springs Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival went live due to the Omicron variant.

An enhanced aspect of this festival that is sure to be popular with everyone is the inclusion of many more free screenings and seminars. Seven SBIFF Filmmaker Seminars will be held outdoors at Casa de la Guerra from March 3-11 at 11 a.m., and they’re all free and open to the public. Topics include diversity, the future of theaters (in the age of streaming) and documentary activism. At the Arlington, audiences will have the opportunity to watch nine of the year’s most popular films for free and, for The power of the dog, Licorice Pizzaand King Richard, participating in question-and-answer sessions with the directors after the screenings. Having enjoyed many of these events at previous festivals, I can assure you there’s nothing quite like seeing an Oscar-nominated film in a room with the director in attendance in the weeks leading up to the Oscars.

Please contact us at for long-time attendee and experienced film critic Josef Woodard’s daily briefings throughout the festival.

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Kristen Stewart in spencer | Credit: Courtesy

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Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

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