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Santa Barbara Film Festival Winds Up Starry Session with Indie Prizes (Videos)

Five Oscar-nominated directors talk about how they first fell in love with movies.

Denis Villeneuve, Ava DuVernay, Barry Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan and Damien Chazelle at SBIFF


Under Executive director Roger Durling, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has flourished by riding the awards season wave via starry onstage interviews with Oscar contenders.

Every year, screenwriters, directors and producers promote their causes on panels, and the likes of Jeff Bridges (a local), Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington, and Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams submit to in-depth tributes from Leonard Maltin and Pete Hammond, among others. This year I had the pleasure of a wide-ranging conversation with Best Actress Oscar-nominee Isabelle Huppert. (See video excerpts below.)

And Saturday, the festival wound up its 32nd edition by handing out its annual jury prizes. All eleven are listed below.

The Audience Choice Award went to Yonatan Nir’s “My Hero Brother,” which also took home the Best Documentary Award. It tells the story of a group of young people with Down syndrome who embarking on an arduous trek through the Himalayas.

The jurors were Richard Raymond, Joanna Kerns, Jesus Lloveras, Martin Gooch, Anthony & Arnette Zerbe, Alan Marshall, Artie Schmidt, Janet Walker, Phyllis de Picciotto, Perry Lang, Mimi deGruy, and Richard Harris.

The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Cameron Fay’s romantic comedy “It’s Been Like a Year.” “Confino,” directed by Nico Bonomolo, won the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film for its “combination of beautiful rendering, music and heart.” Best Documentary Short Film went to “Refugee,” Joyce Chen and Emily Moore’s portrait of a West African emigre, as well as “Refuge,” directed by Matthew K. Firpo.

Martin Tuta’s transgender drama “Tamara,” won the Nueva Vision Award for Spanish/Latin American Cinema.

Paul Shoulberg’s “The Good Catholic,” about a young priest’s crisis of faith after meeting a woman in the confessional, took home the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema.

The Social Justice Award for Documentary Film went to Inuit seal hunting expose “Angry Inuk,” directed by Althea Arnaquq-Baril.

“The Constitution,” about multiple character who live in the same building while ignoring each other, won the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for Best International Film.

Sponsored by Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties Anti-Defamation League, The ADL Stand Up Award went to Wiktor Ericsson’s “Strawberry Days” for its portrayal of the exploitation of foreign workers.

The Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film was awarded to “Sami Blood,” directed by Amanda Kernell, for its vivid representation of racism in the 1930s.

Over the past 30 years, SBIFF has attracted 90,000 attendees during 11 days of screenings of over 200 films, plus tributes and symposia.

Audience Choice Award: MY HERO BROTHER
Best Documentary Award: MY HERO BROTHER
Best Documentary Short Film Award: REFUGEE and REFUGE
Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live Action Short Film: IT’S BEEN LIKE A YEAR
Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: CONFINO
Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: THE CONSTITUTION
Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: THE GOOD CATHOLIC
Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: TAMARA
Social Justin Award for Documentary Film: ANGRY ANUK
Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: SÁMI BLOOD

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