The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is back with in-person awards and panels — for the first time since 2020.
And that means everyone from director Steven Spielberg to actress Kristen Stewart is scheduled to walk down the red carpet as the world increasingly gets back to normal.
Last year the festival relied on virtual programming for panels and awards, and movies were shown both virtually and on drive-in screens. This year, the stars will again receive their accolades before a live audience. And movies are being shown indoors at the festival’s usual sites: the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St.; Metro 4, 618 State St.; and Fiesta 5, 916 State St.
The festival begins at 8 p.m. tonight at The Arlington Theatre with the U.S. premiere of “The Phantom of the Open.”
It’s the story of optimist Maurice Flitcroft, who never played a round of golf but managed to get into the qualifying round of the British Open Championship.
Craig Roberts directed the film, which stars Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans.
At 2 p.m. Thursday, the festival’s special events will continue with a free screening for “The Power of the Dog” at the Arlington Theatre. Nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture, the movie tells the story of rancher Phil Burbank, who inspires fear in those around them until he sees the possibility of love.
Directed by Jane Campion, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smith-McPhee.
The Outstanding Directors of the Year Award will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Arlington Theatre. Recipients are Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”), Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”), Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”), Ryusuke Hamguchi (“Drive My Car”) and Mr. Spielberg (“West Side Story”).
In addition to the special events, a variety of movies will screen at the Metro 4 and Fiesta 5.
Proof of vaccination is required for people attending the films and events. Although the state’s and Santa Barbara County’s mask mandates were lifted, the film festival is still requiring masks inside buildings and in lines. Festival organizers urge people to wear N95 or KN95 masks.
The festival runs through March 12.
For a complete schedule and other information, go to sbiff.org.