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SBIFF Adds Oscar Contenders ‘War Witch,’ ‘Plague’ and ‘Royal Affair’ to Lineup, Plus World Premieres of ‘Angels in Exile’ and ‘Retreat’

SBIFF Adds Oscar Contenders 'War Witch,' 'Plague' and 'Royal Affair' to Lineup, Plus World Premieres of 'Angels in Exile' and 'Retreat'

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, running January 24 – February 3, announces fifteen new titles joining its previously announces lineup. Among them are three Academy Award nominees (“A Royal Affair,” “How To Survive A Plague,” “War Witch”), two world premieres (“Angels in Exile,” “Retreat”) and two US premieres (“Maddened by His Absence,” “Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights”). Details on all fifteen titles below.

World Premieres:

ANGELS IN EXILE, South Africa – World Premiere
Directed by Billy Raftery
Narrated by Charlize Theron
An 8-year journey that challenges viewers to look past the violent and often graphic image of homeless youth and see them for what they are…children.

RETREAT, Canada – World Premiere
Directed by David Cherniack
A documentary that follows the trials and tribulations of thirty-five Westerners as they go through an intense eight-week meditation retreat in Thailand led by Alan Wallace.

U.S. Premieres:

MADDENED BY HIS ABSENCE (J’enrage de son Absence), France – US Premiere
Directed by Sandrine Bonnaire
Deeply affected by the death of his son in a car accident nine years ago, Jacques (William Hurt) struggles to come to terms with his past.

Directed by Suman Ghosh
An 80-year-old Kolkata retiree is determined to turn off the streetlights after sunrise, but finding someone to take him seriously proves a battle against indifference and complacency

Oscar nominated films:

A ROYAL AFFAIR (En kongelig affære), Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic/Germany (Academy Award® nominee)
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
This sumptuous historical drama from writer-director Nikolaj Arcel (screenwriter of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) chronicles the scandalous love triangle between a queen, her German doctor, and the mad King of Denmark.

Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary
Directed by David France
A vital documentary that traces the history of the AIDS activist coalitions ACT UP and TAG, whose radical initiatives broke crucial new ground in the fight against HIV in the 1980s and 1990s.

WAR WITCH (Rebelle), Canada
(Academy Award® nominee)
Directed by Kim Nguyen
In Sub-Saharan Africa, a 14-year-old girl tells her unborn child the story of her life at war. It all started when she was abducted by the rebel army at the age of 12.  


BEIJING FLICKERS, China– West Coast Premiere
Directed by Yuan Zhang
Dumped, fired, evicted and abandoned by everyone, a down-on-his-luck man finds solace with a circle of equally ill-fated friends, in this touching and lighthearted drama from independent Chinese auteur Zhang Yuan.

BEYOND THE HILLS, Romania/France
Directed by Cristian Mungiu
A young Romanian woman sets out to retrieve her childhood friend from her “captivity” in a remote Romanian monastery, and soon comes into violent conflict with the archaic strictures of this traditional community.

Directed by Manjeet Singh
A young boy comes of age in a Mumbai slum while dealing with his long-suffering mother and violent father, in this gently observational portrait crafted in the tradition of the great neorealist classics.

STEEL, Italy
Directed by Stefano Mordini
In a working class town off the coast of Italy just miles from paradise, Anna and Francesca, two teenage girls spend their last summer of innocence before high school.

SOUND CITY, USA – West Coast Premiere
Directed by Dave Grohl
Multitalented musician Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana fronts a mission to resurrect the rapidly vanishing human touch behind the creation of music.

Directed by Michael McGowan
An elderly couple fights against local authorities in rural New Brunswick to build their final home.

STUDENT, Kazakhstan – West Coast Premiere
Directed by Darezhan Omirbayev
A solitary philosophy student commits a calculated violent crime against the backdrop of Kazakhstan’s growing inequality, institutional corruption, and a ruthless underworld in this contemporary adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
THE PUNK SYNDROME, Finland/Norway/Sweden
Directed by Jukka Kärkkäinen, J-P Passi
Punk music is about being a voluntary outcast. What if the outcasts want acceptance? Turning punk on its head, the mentally challenged members of Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day find acceptance in the music they create.

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