The show must go on. That was the philosophy of festival organizers and locals heading into this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It came on the heels of a rough month with two evacuations. First, for the largest fires in California’s history and the second for the debris flow of mud shutting down the 101 freeway. Everyone was in the mood for something uplifting, reminding us of the passion that makes life burn brightly. And so right on schedule, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival of 2018 turned on the projectors and became a beacon of positive light. For ten days, the town filled in again with A-list actors, world-class directors, writers, producers, and film fans of all ages. Compassion seemed to be a consistent theme throughout the films on display, reminding us that in these trying times of political turmoil and global warming, the only thing that will save us is us.
Jeff Bridges produced, narrated and appeared in the film Living in the Future’s Past with outstanding nature cinematography from around the world, showing us how we make a choice every day as we live in our future’s past. The film focused on global warming and the quickly approaching environmental breaking point.
There was a wide spectrum of international films premiered in Santa Barbara while many films on display had already earned top honors, audience choice awards, and breakthrough performances in other film festivals. Just about every film was great but there wasn’t enough time to see them all.
One unique aspect of this festival is its appreciation for youth. 10-10-10 is a five-month mentorship program for high school students in a friendly competition for best student script, all while getting real-life experience next to seasoned professionals. And of course, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies opens up the Arlington theater for free to 4,000 fifth and sixth-grade students to experience the thrill of seeing it all on the big screen with a director’s Q&A after. The entire festival is well supported by wonderful, amazing, and generous supporters, adding up to over $4.47 million.
Here are a few other noteworthy films from the 2018 Santa Barbara International Film Festival:
Chasing the Thunder
Sea Shepard Conservation Society successfully takes down one of six major illegal fishing vessels fueling a multi-billion dollar industry while wiping out our ocean’s resources.
Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey
An intimate and thorough look into the life of one of the most eccentric climbers in the world and the major effects he had on the sport, lifestyle, and industry.
Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy
A journey alongside an artist of incomparable measures who sees, creates, and invites us to view nature in a new way and with a deeper understanding.
Beyond-An African Surf Documentary
These filmmakers returned to SBIFF again this year with their second surf travel story. This one focuses on West Africa and the stories of unlikely local coast dwellers who share the love of surfing.
An incredibly inspiring film aiming to help save the ocean and in turn save us. ”The ocean is the mother of all life on this planet. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.”
This year’s winners chosen by the SBIFF jury:
Audience Choice Award: Mark Hayes’ SKID ROW MARATHON
Short Film Award: Kyle Morrison’s MOTT HAVEN
Best Live Action Short: Richard Vans AUDITION
Best Animated Short: Randall Christophers THE DRIVER IS RED
Best Documentary: Grant Korgan and Geoff Callan THE PUSH
Best International Feature: Gjorce Stravreski SECRET INGREDIENT
Independent Cinema: Molly McGlynn MARY GOES ROUND!
Spain/Latin America award: Pablo Solarz THE LAST SUIT
Special Mention: GET THE WEED
Best Nordic Film: Antti-Jussi Annila THE ETERNAL ROAD
Stand up Award: SKY AND GROUND
Social Justice for Documentary Film: Ludovic Bonleux GUERRERO