After 12 days, numerous premieres, celebrity tributes, filmmakers socializing, and dedicated film fans gorging on as many as six feature films a day, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced its winners Saturday at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort.
With rain finally falling on this last day —after a surprisingly warm and sunny festival —a majority of the filmmakers honored were present to accept their awards and talk to the press.
For all, it was an achievement that honored the years put into the making of their films, whether it was one or 10 or sometimes more.
Jeffrey St. Jules’ horror musical “Bang Bang Baby” won The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema and with it a Panavision camera package worth $60,000.
Based on votes gathered outside every screening at the festival, the Audience Choice Award went to “Hip Hop-eration,” a New Zealand film from Bryn Evans making its U.S. premiere. The documentary follows a troupe of senior citizens as they travel to Las Vegas to take part in the World Hip Hop Championships.
Belgium’s “All Cats Are Grey,” directed by Savina Dellicour, took home Best International Film. The story is about a private detective tracking down his daughter’s biological father.
The Best Documentary Film Award went to Nick Brandestini’s “Children of the Arctic,” which follows Native Alaskan teenagers trying to hold on to their traditions.
Luis Javier M. Henaine’s film from Mexico, “Happy Times,” won the Nueva Vision Award. The romantic comedy is about an agency that helps people end their relationships.
“Monument to Michael Jackson” and its director, Darko Lungulov, took home the Best Eastern European Film Award. The film depicts how one man tries to save his community by replacing their old Soviet statue with one of the King of Pop.
A brand new award honoring the best Santa Barbara feature went to Scott Teems’ “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey” which follows actor Hal Holbrook and his one-man show playing Mark Twain that’s lasted 60 years.
The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film Under 30 Minutes went to “The Answers,” a life-after-death car-crash story directed by Michael Goode.
The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animation Short Film went to Niv Shpigel and Robert Moreno’s Israeli film “Load,” also about asking questions about a life lived.
The award for Best Documentary Short went to “Life After Pi,” Scott Leberecht’s story of the bankruptcy of visual effects house Rhythm & Hues Studios, just before it won an Oscar for “Life of Pi.”
And the Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award went to the documentary “A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake,” by Michael Lessac, which follows South African actors on a journey around the world, going to other war-torn areas and trying to teach lessons learned from reconciliation.
This year’s jury included director and cinematographer Will Eubank, director Peter Chelsom, producer Chaz Ebert, actors Anthony and Arnette Zerbe, composer/lyricist Adam Guettel, actor James Read, SBIFF founder Phyllis de Picciotto, director/actor Perry Lang and producer Mimi deGruy.