Film Festival Schedule

Film Festival

By Amelia Mendro

The Santa Barbara Film Festival is an annual festival spanning 11 days that brings together film makers, actors, artists, the audience, and those just getting into the film industry. Every year since 1986, Santa Barbara has hosted this event to showcase and award the artists of the year. The schedule has just recently been announced, including honorees of awards such as the American Rivera Award and the Montecito Award.

Check the press release to make sure you don’t miss your favorite performer!

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Santa Barbara, Calif. (Jan. 10, 2019) –The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, announced today the highly anticipated lineup for the 34th edition, which will run January 30 to February 9, 2019. The festival will feature 63 world premieres and 59 U.S. premieres from 48 countries, along with tributes with the year’s top talent, panel discussions, and free community education and outreach programs.

SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling stated this morning, “After the tragedy last year in Santa Barbara, we questioned whether to go ahead with last year’s festival, but we came to realize the importance of film as a way for people to gather in an equalitarian way to reflect, feel and simply experience art together. SBIFF is an event that brings together a plethora of visitors – international, national and local filmmakers, Oscar contenders, vital educational programs. We have entered this year with a renewed sense of purpose and continuity with the festival and understand more than ever the important role we play in the community. As such, we have chosen to bookend our festival with two films about iconic people and places in Santa Barbara to highlight the resilience, vitality and the talent within the Santa Barbara community.”

SBIFF 2019 will start with the Opening Night Film, presented by UGG®, on Wednesday, January 30, at the historic Arlington Theatre with the world premiere of Diving Deep:The Life and Times of Mike deGruy directed by Mimi deGruy.  

Diving Deep:The Life and Times of Mike deGruy is a feature film documentary about Mike deGruy, an irrepressible biologist turned award-winning filmmaker who swam, dived and filmed in oceans around the world and in the process became the first to film many rarely seen creatures in their own oceans. He was also a passionate advocate of the ocean’s creatures and  became increasingly outspoken as an environmental activist. In 2012, deGruy died tragically in a helicopter crash in Australia while filming for director James Cameron. Told through the eyes of Mimi deGruy, his wife and filmmaking partner, Diving Deep:The Life and Times of Mike deGruy celebrates deGruy’s remarkable life, career and what he passionately believed:  we are destroying the ocean before we even know what’s there.

Following the film, the Opening Night Gala, sponsored by Amazon Studios, will take place in the beautiful outdoor Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara. It will feature entertainment, food, libations, and a chance to celebrate the start of SBIFF.


The Festival will close Saturday, February 9 at the Arlington Theatre with the world premiere of Spoons: A Santa Barbara Story directed by Wyatt Daily. The Closing Night Film is sponsored by Winchester Mystery House.

SPOONS: A SANTA BARBARA STORY is an exploration of how one of the most significant corners of the world produced, and continues to produce, some of the most talented surfers and innovators. Deeper than all is a story of craftsmanship, work ethic, renegades and tradition. This is a film that goes beyond the time spent in the ocean to define how one spends a lifetime.

Following the film, SBIFF will end with a final celebration at the Closing Night Party sponsored by Amazon Studios.


SBIFF has become an important showcase for Academy Award frontrunners, many of whom have arrived as nominees and gone on to win the Oscar. The 34th SBIFF proudly celebrates some of the year’s finest work in film.

The Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, will be Thursday, January 31 at 8:00pm. Honorees to be announced.
The Outstanding Performer of the Year Award will be Friday, February 1 at 8:00pm. Honoree to be announced.
Viggo Mortensen will receive the American Riviera Award, on Saturday, February 2 at 3:00pm.
Glenn Close will receive the Maltin Modern Master Award, moderated by longtime friend, film historian, and award namesake Leonard Maltin on Saturday, February 2 at 8:00pm.
Melissa McCarthy will receive the Montecito Award, sponsored by Bella Vista Designs, on Sunday, February 3 at 8:00pm.
The Variety Artisans Awards, sponsored by Variety, will take place on Monday, February 4 at 8:00pm, and will be moderated by Tim Gray. Honorees to be announced.
The Virtuosos Award, presented by UGG®, will be awarded to Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Sam Elliott (A Star is Born), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade), Claire Foy (First Man), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), and Steven Yeun (Burning) on Tuesday, February 5 at 8:00pm, moderated by Dave Karger.
Michael B. Jordan will receive the Cinema Vanguard Award presented by Belvedere Vodka on Thursday, February 7 at 8:00pm.

All tributes take place at the historic Arlington Theatre with the exception of the Variety Artisans Award which will be at the Lobero Theatre, presented by Toyota Mirai.


SBIFF has become renowned for creating smart, insightful panels that feature a who’s who in the world of filmmaking, including many Oscar contenders.

Producers Panel will be on Saturday, February 2 at 10:00am, moderated by Glenn Whipp.
Writers Panel will be on Saturday,February 2 at 1:00pm, moderated by Anne Thompson.
Women’s Panel will be on Sunday, February 3 at 11:00am, moderated by Madelyn Hammond.

All panels take place at the Lobero Theatre, presented by Toyota Mirai. Panelists to be announced.

Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies – Named for renowned nature cinematographer Mike deGruy, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies uses filmmaking to stimulate creative, confident, and culturally aware thinkers. The program is offered to 4,000 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students from throughout Santa Barbara County, and SBIFF provides free transportation to students from Title I schools. This year SBIFF is thrilled to present two critically acclaimed films: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with directors Peter Ramsey, Robert Persichetti Jr., Rodney Rothman and Ralph Breaks the Internet with directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston. The directors will participate in a Q&A following the screenings with the students to discuss the craft of animated filmmaking. Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust, Patagonia, Union Bank, Bentson Foundation and Volentine Family Foundation.

Student Film Studies Program – Returning for its fifth year thanks to the generosity of Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin, the national student film studies program will bring 30 undergraduate film students from across the country for a three-day symposium with a focus on film appreciation, criticism, and analysis. Sixty college students in Santa Barbara have the opportunity to take an 11-Day Film Festival course through Santa Barbara City College.

AppleBox Family Films – SBIFF will again screen animated feature frontrunners free to families on the weekends of the Festival with complimentary popcorn and refreshments. This year’s screenings will include Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (10:00am on February 2), Ralph Breaks the Internet (10:00am on February 3), and Incredibles 2 (10:00am on February 9). Sponsored by Metropolitan Theatres.

10–10–10 Student Screenwriting and Filmmaking Mentorship and Competition – In October, 20 high school and college screenwriters and filmmakers were accepted after a competitive application process before beginning a series of workshops, a table read, and a casting day. Since then, the ten writer/director teams and their crews have worked with industry mentors to produce short films that will be screened on Saturday, February 9 at 2:00pm at The Arlington Theatre, with an announcement of the winning scripts and films following the screening. Sponsored by Final Draft Inc. and generously supported by Mary Beth Riordan.

Free Public Screenings – SBIFF will again offer critically acclaimed film screenings free to the public at the Lobero Theatre presented by Toyota Mirai everyday throughout the Festival.

Filmmaker Seminars – SBIFF will again present educational seminars that will be free to the public and will take place in the Festival Pavilion daily at 11:00am. Filmmaker Seminars are sponsored by Driscoll’s.

Super Silent Sunday – On Sunday, February 3, SBIFF will present the 1927 influential German science-fiction film Metropolis at the Arlington Theatre completely free to the public.  Live accompaniment will be provided by Adam Aceto on the theatre’s Wonder Morton pipe organ. Super Silent Sunday is sponsored by Winchester Mystery House.

Youth CineMedia – SBIFF presents a documentary film series produced entirely by teens involved in the Youth CineMedia program. Striving to help children transition away from gang life, drugs, and alcohol and into college and careers in music, photography, and video production, the organization offers creative tools, training, and support for underprivileged and at–risk teens.  Free to the public with Q&A following on Saturday, February 9.


Santa Barbara Filmmakers – The Santa Barbara filmmaking community continues to captivate and inspire audiences with this year’s impressive lineup. Santa Barbara filmmakers provide a diverse, thought–provoking series of features and shorts.

The “Stand Up” Award sponsored by ADL – The Santa Barbara Tri–Counties Region of the Anti–Defamation League will be sponsoring and presenting the “ADL Stand Up Award” to a dramatic film in the festival that represents an important addition to the efforts of the ADL “to secure justice and fair treatment for all.”

The Tribute Awards were once again specially designed by Santa Barbara’s own Daniel Gibbings Jewelry. The award is inspired by the iconic steeple of Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theatre, is handcrafted in metal, and is 24 karat gold–plated, with a custom marble base.

34th Festival Poster Unveiled – Barbara Boros has designed the SBIFF poster each year for 16 years, this year highlighting Butterfly Beach.

Official Festival Hub – The official festival hub will again be located at Hotel Santa Barbara, returning for their 16th year as supporters of SBIFF.

2019 FILMS

Below is the list of feature and short films at the 2019 SBIFF. For the complete list of films, synopses, and other special events please visit

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