SBIFF Celebrates Outstanding Cinema at 39th Edition

The 39th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) concluded with a star-studded awards ceremony held at El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, in Santa Barbara. The festival, which took place from February 7 to February 17, showcased a diverse range of films from around the world, and today the winners were announced at a breakfast ceremony attended by the jury, filmmakers, and industry enthusiasts.

SBIFF’s Programming Director, Claudia Puig, expressed gratitude to the dedicated group of jurors for their exceptional selections. “The winning films tell stories that span the globe, from the magic of movie palaces in the Atacama Desert to the stunning mystery of ice caves in Antarctica to the social hazards of cancel culture in Indonesia. All are riveting tales told with verve and originality,” said Puig.

The esteemed jury, consisting of Lesley Chilcott, Alex Keledjian, Chris Landon, Lael Loewenstein, Jacqueline Lyanga, David Magdael, Gail Mancuso, Greg Nava, Pituka Ortega Heilbron, Carla Renata, Gil Robertson, Ondi Timoner, Clay Tweel, and Ali Wolfe, selected the winners across various categories.

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Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: TRANSMEXICO
Directed by Claudia Sanchez, this film resonated with the audience, earning the prestigious Audience Choice Award.

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: EDGE OF EVERYTHING
Directed by Sophia Sabella and Pablo Feldman, this film not only impressed the jury but also came with a significant prize – a $60,000 camera rental package from Panavision.

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: ANDRAGOGY
Wregas Bhanuteja’s ANDRAGOGY received acclaim as the Best International Feature Film.

Best Documentary Award: DIVING INTO THE DARKNESS
Nays Baghai’s exploration in DIVING INTO THE DARKNESS earned the Best Documentary Award.

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: THE BLUE STAR (La estrella azul)
Javier Macipe’s THE BLUE STAR was recognized with the Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema.

Best Nordic Film Award: BEFORE IT ENDS (Når befrielsen kommer)
Anders Walter’s BEFORE IT ENDS received the Best Nordic Film Award.

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: THE LAST DAUGHTER
Directed by Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt, THE LAST DAUGHTER was honored with the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film.

The ASC Award for Cinematography sponsored by The American Society of Cinematographers: THE MOVIE TELLER
Lone Scherfig’s THE MOVIE TELLER received the ASC Award for Cinematography.

ADL Stand Up Award, sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties: THE LAST DAUGHTER
Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt’s film, THE LAST DAUGHTER, was also recognized with the ADL Stand Up Award.

Best Documentary Short Film Award: A MAN’S MAN
Myles Desenberg’s A MAN’S MAN claimed the Best Documentary Short Film Award and is now eligible for the 2025 Academy Awards.

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film: AREA BOY
Iggy London’s AREA BOY received the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live-Action Short Film and is now eligible for the 2025 Academy Awards.

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: ON THE 8TH DAY (Au 8ème Jour)
Directed by Agathe Sénéchal, Alicia Massez, Elise Debruyne, Flavie Carin, and Théo Duhautois, ON THE 8TH DAY received the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film and is now eligible for the 2025 Academy Awards.

The 39th Santa Barbara International Film Festival featured a series of official events, including screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes held throughout the city, culminating at the historic Arlington Theatre.

SBIFF, a non-profit arts and educational organization, has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States over the past 39 years. With a mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film, the festival attracted 100,000 attendees and offered 11 days of 200+ films, tributes, and symposiums.

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