Skip to Content
Santa Barbara - South County

Santa Barbara Film Festival unveils its 2021 lineup

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is always starry a celebration of up and coming filmmakers and Oscar hopefuls, but this year the programmers have also decided to make it more accessible. For the first time, it’ll be free for the community, organizers announced Tuesday.

The 36th installment kicks off on March 31 with the world premiere of Aaron Mauer’s “Invisible Valley” about the people of California’s Coachella’s Valley, from the undocumented farmworkers to the wealthy snowbirds and music festival partiers. The film also explores the “looming ecological crisis threatening it all.”

After a year of mostly online film festivals, the festival is taking a hybrid approach and building two beachside drive-in theaters for the screenings. There will also be a ticketed online component. There are 47 world premieres in the lineup, hailing from 45 countries in addition to celebrity tributes, panels and community outreach programs.

Celebrity honorees at the 36th installment include Amanda Seyfried, Delroy Lindo, Sacha Baron Cohen, Bill Murray and Carey Mulligan, who is getting the Cinema Vanguard Award. Virtuoso Award recipients include Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kinglsey Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim and Zendaya. That event, moderated by Dave Karger, will take place on April 3.

Feature films in the lineup include “Trees of Peace,” about four women hiding and fighting for survival during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, “Coast,” about a teenager in a small town who falls for a punk singer, and “Alaskan Nets,” a documentary about a high school basketball team who has a shot at the state championship for the first time since 1984. Other films include “Last Call,” a documentary about the hospitality industry in Queens at the outset of COVID-19, “Highway One,” set around a New Year’s Eve party in rural California and “The Revolution Generation” about the largest youth generation in history and the challenges they face. The documentary “$avvy” explores the topic of women and personal finances.

U.S. premieres include “Fellinopolis,” about the world of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, “Teach Me If You Can,” a French documentary about teachers in Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and Siberia, and “Six Angry Women,” from New Zealand, which covers the 1984 kidnapping of an Auckland University lecturer.

“This year’s festival will look different on many fronts, but we are unchanged when it comes to what’s most important: our love of film, and our dedication to bringing forward a program of unmatched quality and sharing it with our community,” said Roger Durling, the festival’s executive director. “We are so excited to have the opportunity to be a source of joy and optimism.”

Closing night on April 10 will highlight short documentaries by local filmmakers, covering subjects as diverse as an annual trip by the Chumash people to a historic site, a woman’s quest to restore ecosystems with sheep and how the residents of Santa Barbara survived 2020.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival regularly attracts more than 100,000 attendees annually.


The complete SBIFF film lineup is below:

22 WORLD PREMIERE FEATURE FILMS (listed alphabetically)

Addict Named Hal
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Lane Michael Stanley

Alaskan Nets
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Jeff Harasimowicz

Broken Diamonds
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Peter Sattler

The Cinderella Addiction
Japan - World Premiere
Directed by Ryohei Watanabe

Cinema of Sleep
Canada - World Premiere
Directed by Jeffrey St. Jules

Climb
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Neil Myers

The Conservation Game
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Michael Webber

Coast
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Jessica Hester, Derek Schweickart

Daughters of the Waves
France - World Premiere
Directed by Lisa Monin, Sébastien Daguerressar

Evan Wood
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Niki Byrne

Highway One
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Jaclyn Bethany

The Hosts (Os donos da casa)
Brazil - World Premiere
Directed by Carla Dauden

Invisible Valley
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Aaron Maurer

The Knot (Uljhan)
India - World Premiere
Directed by Ashish Pant

La Recua - The Mule Pack Train
USA, Mexico - World Premiere
Directed by Darío Higuera Meza, Trudi Angell

Last Call
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Johnny Sweet

Reclaim Idaho
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Laura Wing-Kamoosi, Jim Kamoosi

The Revolution Generation
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Josh Tickell, Rebecca Tickell

$avvy
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Robin Hauser

Snakehead
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Evan Jackson Leong

Trees of Peace
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Alanna Brown

We Burn Like This
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Alana Waksman

29 U.S. PREMIERE FEATURE FILMS (listed alphabetically)

Akilla's Escape
Canada - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Charles Officer

Baby
Spain - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Juanma Bajo Ulloa

Backyard Village
Iceland - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Marteinn Thórsson

A Bruddah's Mind (Cabeça de nêgo)
Brazil - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Déo Cardoso

By Your Side (À la folie)
France - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Audrey Estrougo

Erna at War (Erna i krig)
Denmark, Estonia, Belgium - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz

Fear (Strah)
Bulgaria - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Ivaylo Hristov

Fellinopolis
Italy - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Silvia Giulietti

The Flood Won't Come (Tvano nebus)
Lithuania - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Marat Sargsyan

The Forbidden Strings
Iran, Afghanistan, Qatar - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Hasan Noori

Fortitude (La fortaleza)
Venezuela, Colombia, France, Netherlands - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Jorge Thielen Armand

Four Mothers
Israel - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Dana Keidar Levin, Rephael Levin

The Ghosts (Los fantasmas)
Guatemala, Argentina - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Sebastián Lojo

Karnawal
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Juan Pablo Félix

Ladies Of Steel
Finland - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Pamela Tola

The Last Ones (Viimeiset)
Finland, Estonia, Netherlands - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Veiko Õunpuu

Listen, Portugal
UK - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Ana Rocha de Sousa

The Man with the Answers
Cyprus, Greece, Italy - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Stelios Kammitsis

Mirage (Miraggio)
Switzerland - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Nina Stefanka

My First Summer
Australia - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Katie Found

One-Way to Moscow
Switzerland - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Micha Lewinsky

The Pit (Bedre)
Latvia, Finland - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Dace Pūce

Poppie Nongena
South Africa - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Christiaan Olwagen

Run Woman Run
Canada - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Zoe Hopkins

Six Angry Women
New Zealand - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Megan Jones

Teach Me if You Can
France - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Émilie Thérond

Under My Skin
Australia - U.S. Premiere
Directed by David O'Donnell

We Will Never Die
Argentina - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Eduardo Crespo

When I'm Done Dying
Turkey, USA, Germany - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Nisan Dağ

2021 SBIFF FEATURE FILMS  (non-premieres listed alphabetically)

American Skin
USA 
Directed by Nate Parker

Giants Being Lonely
USA 
Directed by Grear Patterson

Hope
Norway
Directed by Maria Sødahl

2021 SBIFF SHORTS - (listed alphabetically)
25 WORLD PREMIERES AND 8 U.S. PREMIERES 

Anxious
USA
Directed by Anthony Gilbert

Anything for You
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Matt Ferrucci

The Beast of Our Time
USA - World Premiere

The Beauty President
USA
Directed by Whitney Skauge

Becoming Eddie
USA
Directed by Lilan Bowden

Black Boys Can't Cry
USA
Directed by Victor Gabriel

Bobby
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Henry Burge 

Can't Have It Both Ways
USA
Directed by Morningstar Angeline

The Carousel
Italy
Directed by Valerio Berruti

Clara With a Mustache
Kosovo - World Premiere
Directed by Ilir Blakcori

A Critter Fable
USA
Directed by Grace Fisher

Cycles
USA
Directed by Jonathan Barenboim

Dia De Los Muertos
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by George Ortega, Ricardo Ortega

Dis-Dance!
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Michael Love

East-West
Poland - World Premiere
Directed by Natalia Koniarz

Electric Lady
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Casey McGarry

Eyes
USA
Directed by Zachary Goodwin, Flynn Harris, Alex Flanagan, Alex Kumph

First Light
USA
Directed by Amy Lee Ketchum

Gratified
USA
Directed by Leslie Hope

The Great Malaise
Canada
Directed by Amy Catherine Lepage

Heartland
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Jahmil Eady

Homecoming: Journey to Limuw
USA
Directed by Nick Zachar

Hospice of Santa Barbara Presents: Manuel's Story
USA
Directed by Greg Kroes

I, Barnabé
Canada
Directed by Jean-François Lévesque

Identibye
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Sajjad Shahhatami

In White Places
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Brian Keith Powell

Kaizo
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Jeremy Lethco

Kapaemahu
USA
Directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe WIlson

Keeping the Sport Alive
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Will Hahn

Keiara
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Floyd Russ

The Kicksled Choir
Norway
Directed by Torfinn Iversen

Language of Dreams
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Peter Sasowsky

The Last Ferry from Grass Island
Hong Kong
Directed by Linhan Zhang

Lion on the Mat
USA
Directed by Asali Echols

Lucky
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Phinehas L Hodges

Malakout
Iran
Directed by Farnoosh Abedi 

Man with a Broom
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Joel Rader, Lydia Leiber, Caroline Nouhan

A Man with Emotions
USA
Directed by Miki Inoguchi

Mariah: A Boxer’s Dream
USA
Directed by Nina Meredith

The Mechanical Dancer
USA
Directed by Jenna Jaillet

Mrs. Taylor’s Show & Tell - A Prince Story
USA
Directed by Victor Dean

My Father The Mover
South Africa 
Directed by Julia Jansch

Nickel in the Sand
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Mike Winger

Nine
USA
Directed by Jane Musky

Not One More
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Cameron Leingang

Ocean Stories: Michele's Magic Carpet Ride
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Patrick Creadon, Greg Goggin

Pant Hoot
USA
Directed by Richard Reens

Project H
France
Directed by Maharaki

Remisivir
Romania - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Bobby Barbacioru

River Tigers: Giant Taimen of the Russian Far East
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Andy Maser, Adam Bagger

Roy
UK - World Premiere
Directed by Tom Berkeley, Ross White

Safe
US - World Premiere
Directed by Josema Roig

Savior
USA
Directed by Christopher Oroza-Nostas

Shadow Of The Fox
US - World Premiere
Directed by Nooshin Meraji

Shepherd's Song
USA 
Directed by Abby Fuller

Sperm
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Kirsten Kearse 

Stoke Chasers
USA 
Directed by Jo Anna Edmison

Stormy and the Admirals
USA 
Directed by Dan Rybicky

Subtle Body
USA - U.S. Premiere
Directed by Robin Bisio

Sunshine In The Rain
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Benny Chen

Sweet Dreams
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Navid Saedi

Tristo
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Ryan Oligmueller 

Underdogs
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Alex Astrella 

The Unknown
UK 
Directed by Stephanie Marshall

Vial
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Sonja O'Hara, Micah Stuart

Vuja De
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Casey McGarry

Waking Up
USA - World Premiere
Directed by James Patrick Nelson

Wally Wenda
USA 
Directed by Diane Russo

When It's Late
USA - World Premiere
Directed by Mitch Hadley

The Winter
Australia
Directed by Xin Li

For the complete list of films, synopses, and other special events please visit www.sbiff.org or the SBIFF app.

—-

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

California / Entertainment / Lifestyle
Author Profile Photo

The Associated Press

Author Profile Photo

NewsChannel 3-12

Email the NewsChannel 3-12 Team

Skip to content