The Santa Barbara International Film Festival usually happens in the winter, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the event to be postponed until spring.
The 36th annual event scheduled to be held in late January will now take place from March 31 to April 10 of next year, according to the festival’s website.
The 2021 festival will feature more than 200 films, more than 120 of which will be having their world and United States premieres, as well as industry panels, celebrity tributes, and screenings held at local venues like the Arlington Theatre and Lobero Theatre.
In a post on the festival’s Facebook page, SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling remarked that this time amid the pandemic is the perfect time to appreciate film as something that can get people through this difficult period.
“There has never been a more critical time to celebrate cinema and its ability to get us through extremely challenging circumstances, whether on a personal level or on a global scale by keeping us entertained, informed and inspired,” he said.
The change of date it turns out is not the only impact COVID-19 has had on SBIFF. Funding cuts that had to be made to the city of Santa Barbara’s recently adopted budget included a reduced sponsorship for the festival. According to Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the City Administrator, the $72,630 grant SBIFF is receiving from the city is $8,070 less than initially budgeted.
“All City departments reduced their budgets by 5%, so we similarly asked all the City’s partners and grantees to reduce their grants at a similar level,” Ms. Johnson said.
SBIFF attracts the biggest names in the film business from actors to directors. Last year’s festival drew famous actresses such as Laura Dern, who was awarded the event’s Cinema Vanguard Award, Lupita Nyong’o, awarded the Montecito Award, Renee Zellweger, who was awarded the American Riviera Award. Korean director Bong Joon Ho who was given the festival’s Outstanding Director of the Year award for “Parasite,” his film that ultimately won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best international Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.
The 35th annual event also featured Brad Pitt, who was awarded the Maltin Modern Master Award by renowned film critic Leonard Maltin before a sold-out crowd.
Just this week, SBIFF’s Riviera Theatre, at 2044 Alameda Padre Serra, reopened for business, with 250 seats in its screening room removed to observe social distancing. Those attending screenings at the theater are required to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking in their seats.