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Top films honored at Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s final day

Richard Hobert
John Palminteri
Filmmaker RIchard Hobert accepts the "Audience Choice" Award at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
SBIFF Katherin Hervey
John Palminteri
Top films honored at Santa Barbara International Film Festival's final day
SBIFF awards 2020  1
John Palminteri
Top films honored at Santa Barbara International Film Festival's final day

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - "The Birdcatcher's Son" won the audience choice award at the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival's awards breakfast hosted by the Belmond El Encanto.

A wide range of honors were handed out to the filmmakers and festival staff.

Executive Director Roger Durling, casually dressed in his SBIFF hat and enthusiastic greeting thanked the staff, film judges, volunteers, sponsors and film fans for making the festival one of the best in the country.

He has stressed inclusion as a main focus of the festival from the film creators to the spectators. "To come together as a community to celebrate over 200 films - forge a sense of community and love that defies boundary," said Durling.

The coveted Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, went to Richard Hobert's "The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son)."

The festival says films were chosen by jury members Jason Baffa, Max Barbakow, Lisa Black, Alex Carter, Geoff Green, Paul Kurta, Perry Lang, Artie Schmidt, Rita Taggart, Diego Tinoco, John Williams, and Anthony & Arnette Zerbe.

In accepting his award, Hobert said outside of the theaters he noticed, "everywhere on the streets and in restaurants people have been talking about the film."

The story is a family drama in a fight to retain their land at the Faroe Islands in the late 1800s.

Hobert joked that at a prior awards ceremony for "Everyone Loves Alice" at a Hollywood film festival in 2002, he was with many film stars including Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford and Jennifer Anniston. In the quick end to that ceremony, he accidentally ended up with Anniston's award and asked for that message to get back to her.

Hobert says he is looking for distribution of his film in the United States to go with the showings already in Europe.

Katherin Hervey, from "The Prison Within" won the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film. She said, "you spend six years making a film, and you hope it's well received. It was wonderful to see the audience reflect back to our vision for the film."

She was joined by her husband and filmmaker Massimo Bardetti and Troy Williams, a former incarcerated prisoner in San Quentin who was on the film crew.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, also said it will return for the 36th edition on January 27th – February 6th, 2021. This year the dates were moved up by the change in scheduling for the Academy Awards to February 9th. This year's festival began on January 15.

Five volunteers were also honored for their service as part of a 600-person crew that has assistants inside and outside of all SBIFF theaters. They were: Judy Salviolo, Claudia Werlin, Vanessa Massel, Daryl West, and Joanne and Roger Deck.

The full list of winners was released right after the awards ceremony:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: Richard Hobert's The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son)

Best Documentary Short Film Award: 
Henry Roosevelt’s Sixth of June

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film: 
Jianna Maartin’s Sin Cielo

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: 
Jonathan Langager’s Cosmic Fling

Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International:
Brian Morrison’s Bastards’ Road

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film:
Fatos Berisha’s The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues)

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: 
William Nicholson’s Hope Gap

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: 
Gerardo Herrero’s The Goya Murders

Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: 
Jesper W. Nielsen’s The Exception (Undtagelsen)

ADL Stand Up Award sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties: 
Lydia Dean Pilcher's Liberté: A Call to Spy

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: 
Katherin Hervey’s The Prison Within


The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

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John Palminteri

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