Under executive director Roger Durling, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (March 2–12, 2022) has thrived by surfing the awards season wave, programming a ton of onstage interviews with Oscar contenders. This year’s edition is a hybrid of last year’s pandemic festival, when tributes and panels were live-streamed and the films were shown online and at two free oceanfront drive-in theatres. 2022 marks a return to live events. “After two years of incertitude,” said Durling, “it feels good to know we can continue to count on film and the festival to give us a sense of comfort and continuity.”
Every year, screenwriters, directors, and producers promote their films on panels, and the likes of Brad Pitt, Bong Joon-ho, Adam Driver, Renée Zellweger, Laura Dern, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Saoirse Ronan, Bruce Dern, Jeff Bridges, Melissa McCarthy, Isabelle Huppert, Viggo Mortensen, Rami Malek, Glenn Close, Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, and Sam Elliott submit to in-depth tributes.
The panels, tributes, special screenings lure local cinephiles and Academy members eager to hear Oscar contenders talk about their creative process. All tributes and panels will be in person at the historic Arlington Theatre as well as streamed live. One of several special screenings is Oscar frontrunner “The Power of the Dog,” followed by a Q&A with New Zealand auteur Jane Campion on Thursday, March 3 at 2 p.m.
On the first weekend, on Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m., I will interview The American Riviera Award honoree, Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”). The next day on Saturday, March 5 at 11 a.m. I will moderate the annual “It Starts with the Script” Writers Panel, which will be followed by Los Angeles Times awards editor Glenn Whipp’s Producers Panel at 2 p.m., and the following weekend, Madelyn Hammond’s Women’s Panel on Sunday, March 12, at 11 a.m.
The Virtuosos Award, moderated by TCM’s Dave Karger, will honor Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan of “Belfast,” Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”), Alana Haim (“Licorice Pizza”), Emilia Jones and Troy Kotsur of “CODA,” Simon Rex (“Red Rocket”), and Saniyya Sidney (“King Richard”) on Saturday, March 5 at 8:00pm.
The Outstanding Performers of the Year, Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, will be interviewed on Sunday, March 6, at 8 p.m. by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg; The Cinema Vanguard Award goes to Benedict Cumberbatch on Wednesday, March 9, at 8 p.m., moderated by Deadline’s Pete Hammond. And as always, Hollywood historian Leonard Maltin will grill the honorees of the the Maltin Modern Master Award (Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman), on Thursday, March 10, at 8 p.m.
Still to be announced are the participants in the the Outstanding Directors of the Year panel (Thursday, March 3, at 8 p.m.), moderated by Feinberg; the Variety Artisans Award on Monday, March 7. at 8 p.m., moderated by Jazz Tangcay; and the Montecito Award tribute on Tuesday, March 8, at 8 p.m.
The 37th edition opens March 2 with the world premiere of ’70s-set British comedy “The Phantom of the Open,” starring Sally Hawkins and Mark Rylance. After screening 95 U.S premieres and 48 world premieres from 54 countries, the festival will close March 12 with documentary “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” with the veteran singer in attendance. The full program is listed here.