Santa Barbara Film Fest: Curtain Falls on 2016 Event

From left: Gerd Schneider, Roger Durling and Ciro Guerra
Shannon Kelley

Johnny Depp, Brie Larson, Michael Keaton and Sylvester Stallone were among those who attended the annual event.

The stars are gone, the cautious enticing of local Oscar voters is over and with one final post-screening party on Saturday, the 11-day Santa Barbara International Film Festival shut down its projectors for another year.

Among the 2016 SBIFF’s highlights was a panel with all the Oscar-nominated directors, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg, plus awards handed out to stars including Johnny Depp, Brie Larson, Michael Keaton and Sylvester Stallone.

At the party held onstage and in tents behind the Lobero Theatre after the screening of Marguerite, festival executive director Roger Durling said he saw the attendance by Santa Barbara locals as a trend that increased this year.

“We want the festival to be a reflection of who we are,” said Durling. “Santa Barbara is 45 percent Latino. Surfing, food and wine, social justice, the environment — these are all things that are important to this community. We want to offer films that the town can get behind."

The crowd at the Lobero was in the Sundance age group/demographic but with an undertone of being financially more comfortable. At Santa Barbara, there’s not the feeling of people leaving parties with a bag of hors d’oeuvres to crash on a condo floor or in the back of a van. Ciro Guerra, who has personally shown his Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent at 15 of the 100 fests at which it has screened, said Santa Barbara “reminded me of being in the Cote d’Azur.”

The Colombian-born director said he thought one reason his film was so well-received here is because Santa Barbara has “a lot of people into indigenous things and former hippies.”

Gerd Schneider, who directed the German drama The Culpable, said he was impressed by the local homes he’d been invited to for dinner and “if ever I should make a really successful movie, I’d live here.”

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