The program for the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs from March 2-12, 2022, announced its schedule and unveiled its poster on Thursday, February 10 at the Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara.

The festival provides a key platform for artists on the Oscars campaign trail, and 2022 is no exception. All of the actors receiving SBIFF Awards as part of one-night celebrity tribute programs have been nominated for Oscars this year. The list includes Kristen Stewart (American Riviera Award on Friday, March 4), Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis (Outstanding Performers of the Year Award, Sunday, March 6), Benedict Cumberbatch (Cinema Vanguard Award, Wednesday, March 9), and Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem (Maltin Modern Masters Award, Thursday March 10). SBIFF Director Roger Durling will announce the final individual tribute honored for the Montecito Award in the coming weeks.

This year’s opening night movie, The Phantom of the Open, is a British comedy that stars Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft. Flitcroft became famous for playing major golf tournaments such as the British Open, despite being a terrible novice golfer. The film, which received a warm reception when it premiered at the London BFI Film Festival, seems like the kind of feel-good comedy we could all use right now. Sally Hawkins, who delivered a memorable performance in spencer as Lady Diana’s favorite maid, Maggie, plays Jean, Flitcroft’s patient wife.

The closing film of the festival, Dionne Warwick: Don’t do me again, tells the story of the great New Jersey gospel choir singer’s rise to international stardom as the definitive interpreter of the songs of Burt Bacharach. Warwick, a social media sensation thanks to his dry wit on Twitter, will be on hand for the screening.


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Other major festival news include the appointment of eminent film critic Claudia Puig as director of programming. There will be a 10th anniversary screening of Silver Linings Playbook with a discussion with director David O. Russell and a retrospective of films by Gregory Nava, the groundbreaking author who wrote and directed The North (1983), Selena (1997) and the TV series American family (2002-2004). American family star Edward James Olmos will be on hand to pay tribute to Nava.

In his remarks, Durling took the opportunity to highlight the passing of several people who had an impact on the festival. The 10th anniversary of the tragic death of oceanographer and documentary filmmaker Mike deGruy was February 4. Russ Spencer, a Santa Barbara filmmaker and former Independent staff member who died in 2019, is remembered as the person who successfully advocated for the inclusion of local filmmakers in the festival. Most recently, Nadine Turner, the host of the longtime festival headquarters at the Santa Barbara Hotel, died in 2021, as did Barbara Boris, the artist responsible for many years of SBIFF’s posters.

The poster design unveiled for this year’s festival features a blue-saturated beachscape by Hank Pitcher, who was there to witness the unveiling and offer some insight into his perception of what makes SBIFF special. Pitcher compared the experience of walking on the beach and looking at the ocean to the moments immediately after the lights go down in a movie theater. These two public acts “reveal us as we live our dreams and our desires,” Pitcher said.

Despite the county’s decision to lift its indoor mask mandate on Feb. 16, Durling said the festival would continue to require attendees to remain fully masked at all tributes, panels and screenings. For more information and to order tickets, visit sbiff.org.


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Darcy J. Skinner