Santa Barbara International Film Festival adapts to pandemic
Fans gathered one magical night on State Street to meet Her Majesty.
Claire Foy, who starred as the young Queen Elizabeth II in the early seasons of Netflix’s “The Crown,” signed autographs back in February 2019 during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The royally elegant star stood outside the Arlington Theatre, which has long been the site of the big events drawing Oscar nominees, other celebrities and behind-the-scenes filmmakers.
Circumstances for the acclaimed festival have changed because of the pandemic. But the festival’s 2021 poster of Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens noted, “The show must go on!”
And it will.
Set for March 31 to April 10, the festival has adapted to the pandemic with plans to show more than 80 movies at two beachside drive-in theaters at Santa Barbara City College. The films are free, but reservations are required.
In addition to the drive-in movies, the festival is presenting virtual programs, which vary from industry panels to screenings and celebrity tributes.
“We have poured all of our creativity into this plan and are very proud of the shape it is taking,” Executive Director Roger Durling said in a statement. “SBIFF 2021 will be completely unique and marked by the excellence SBIFF is known for.”
Fans have long loved seeing the stars come out to Santa Barbara, and the festival has a successful record in choosing honorees who, after the festival announces they’re coming, become Oscar nominees.
Among the top stars at this year’s festival is Bill Murray. He will receive the Maltin Modern Master Award at 6 p.m. April 2.
Mr. Murray is known for everything from “Saturday Night Live” to “Stripes” (1981) to “Groundhog Day” (1993) to “Lost in Translation” (2003). Mr. Murray starred in the original “Ghostbusters” movies and will return as his character, Dr. Peter Venkman, in this year’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”
The film festival will honor Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan with the Cinema Vanguard Award at 2 p.m. April 5.
Ms. Mulligan is known for her acting in movies such as “The Dig” (2021), “The Great Gatsby” (2013) and “Wildlife” (2018). And “Doctor Who” fans will remember from the 2007 episode “Blink.”
She will be honored for her career and most recent performance in “Promising Young Woman,” written, produced and directed by Emerald Fennell (“The Crown,” “Killing Eve”).
Ms. Mulligan was recently nominated for the Oscar for best leading actress for her role as Cassandra in Mr. Fennell’s dark comedy.
Mr. Durling noted he saw Ms. Mulligan on stage in “The Seagull” in 2008. “She was such a magnetic combination of fearlessness and vulnerability there, and she continues to instill awe in all of us.
“She delivers her best work so far in ‘Promising Young Woman,’ ” the film festival executive director said in a news release.
And Sacha Baron Cohen will get the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award at 6 p.m. April 7. Mr. Cohen is known for playing Borat Sagiyev, a fictional character interacting with unsuspecting real people, and his most recent film is 2020’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
Delroy Lindo will be honored with the American Riviera Award at 6 p.m. April 8. Mr. Lindo plays Adrian Boseman, a partner in the law firm of Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart in Paramount+’s “The Good Fight.” The series’ creators and executive producers are Santa Barbara residents Robert and Michelle King.
Amanda Seyfried, who plays Marion Davies in “Mank,” will receive the Montecito Award at 6 p.m. April 9. Ms. Seyfried’s screen credits vary from the ABBA-inspired “Mama Mia!” (2008) to “Les Misérables” (2012).
Eight actors will receive this year’s Virtuoso Award at 6 p.m. April 3.
They are Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), Kingsley Ben-Adir (“One Night in Miami”), Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), Sidney Flanigan (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”) and Zendaya (“Malcolm & Marie”). Marvel Comics fans also know Zendaya for playing M.J. in the “Spider-Man” movies starring Tom Holland in the title role.
“Even though the movie industry was turned upside down in 2020, this year’s impressive — and international — roster of Virtuosos proves that there is still a great deal of exciting rising talent delivering wonderful work,” event moderator Dave Karger said in a statement.
“I can’t wait to gather this phenomenal group and introduce them to the Santa Barbara audience,” said Mr. Karger, who is a Turner Classic Movies host.
Despite the pandemic, the festival received a record number of film submissions, according to a news release. The 100-plus movies will include many U.S. and world premieres.
Film buffs also get to see the talented people behind the cameras at the festival. This year, they’ll be honored at 6 p.m. April 5 during the festival’s virtual Variety Artisans Award session.
The award will go to:
— Alan Baumgarten for Netflix’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Mr. Baumgarten, the editor, reunited for the film with director and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Mr. Baumgarten won an Emmy for his work on “Recount” (2008) and an Oscar nomination for “American Hustle” (2013).
— Nicolas Becker, who earned a BAFTA nomination for best sound for Amazon’s “Sound of Metal.” Mr. Becker’s 263-plus credits vary from “Ex Machina” (2014) to “Gravity” (2013).
— Alexandra Byrne, a costume designer who has four Oscar nominations and won the Academy Award for costume design for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2008). Ms. Byrne will be honored for her most recent work on “Emma,” starring Anya Taylor Joy.
— Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale, the team behind the production and set designs for “Mank,” a 2020 movie about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. “Mank” leads this year’s Oscars nominations with 10 nods.
For “Manx,” Mr. Burt and Ms. Pascale recreated Hearst Castle and changed modern studio backlots to reflect Hollywood’s Golden Age.
— Sean Faden, a visual effect supervisor who contributed to Disney’s recent live-action version of “Mulan.” (You can find it on Disney+.)
— Mia Neal, the hair department head for Oscar-nominated “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Netflix.
— Leslie Odom Jr., a Grammy and Tony winner starring in “Hamilton” on Disney+ and “One Night in Miami” on Amazon. He’s a contender in the Oscar original song category with fellow songwriter Sam Ashworth for “Speak Now” in “One Night in Miami.”
— Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. They received Oscar nominations this year for best score for “Mank” and Disney-Pixar’s animated film “Soul.” They won the Oscar in 2011 for “The Social Network.”
— Cinematographer Joshua James Richards for “Nomadland.”
News-Press correspondent Madison Hirneisen contributed to this story.