Santa Barbara Film Fest, Major Oscar Season Campaign Stop, Pushed Back Two Months

The fest has pushed back the dates for its 36th edition by nine weeks, from Jan. 27-Feb. 6 to March 31-April 10.
Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF

As go the Academy Awards, so goes the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fest on the American riviera, an Oscar campaign stop each year for many top contenders, has pushed back the dates for its 36th edition by nine weeks — from Jan. 27-Feb. 6 to March 31-April 10 — on the heels of the Academy pushing back the 93rd Oscars by eight weeks from Feb. 28 to April 25.

"Like so many other prestigious ceremonies and events, we've had to adjust our plans in this extremely unprecedented era," SBIFF executive director Roger Durling said in a statement. "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."

Last year's edition of the fest honored eventual Oscar winners Bong Joon-ho, Renee Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern, as well as Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong'o, Aldis Hodge, George MacKay, Cynthia Erivo, Beanie Feldstein, Taron Egerton, Awkwafina, Florence Pugh and Taylor Russell, among others.

In 2021, SBIFF intends to once again showcase 200-plus films featuring over 120 world and US premieres, industry panels, celebrity tributes and educational and free community programs.

There is no word yet on whether or not the fest intends to move forward with its separate presentation of the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, which has occurred each November since 2006. The next edition, whenever it happens, will be the first since the award's namesake's death in February at age 103.