This year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival (January 31 to February 10) will present a number of tributes to Oscar contenders (among them “Darkest Hour” Oscar frontrunner Gary Oldman and “Lady Bird” Golden Globe Comedy winner Saoirse Ronan) as well as panels featuring the year’s most lauded film directors, producers, craftswomen, and screenwriters.
This weekend brings the annual Saturday Lobero Theatre “It Starts with the Script” panel, which I always enjoy moderating, with the writers behind the season’s Oscar contenders: Vanessa Taylor (“The Shape of Water”), Emily V. Gordon (“The Big Sick”), Virgil Williams (“Mudbound”), Michael H. Weber (“The Disaster Artist”), Liz Hannah (“The Post”), Adrian Molina (“Coco”), and writer-director Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”).
And also per usual, this Saturday at the Lobero The Los Angeles Times writer Glenn Whipp will moderate the annual “Movers and Shakers” producers’ panel, with Peter Spears (“Call Me By Your Name”), Emma Thomas (“Dunkirk”), Lisa Bruce (“The Darkest Hour”), Sean McKittrick (“Get Out”), Evelyn O’Neill (“Lady Bird”), Daniel Lupi (“Phantom Thread”), J. Miles Dale (“The Shape of Water”), and Graham Broadbent (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”).
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So far this awards season, the festival has already presented Judi Dench with its Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film; the festival will also give Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”) its Cinema Vanguard Award. And this weekend’s Virtuosos Award recipients are Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”), Hong Chau (“Downsizing”) and John Boyega (“Detroit”) as well as Oscar nominees Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”), Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”), Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) and Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”).
Over the past 30 years the SBIFF has become a must-attend for awards contenders on the road to the Oscars. Under director Roger Durling, the festival has attracted some 90,000 attendees over 11 days of over 200 films, tributes and symposia.