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Local Filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis Explores the Lives of A-list Courtesans

By Bonnie Carroll


Leslie Zemeckis, Writer/Director on 2018 SBIFF Red Carpet

(photo: Bonnie Carroll, Life Bites News 2018)

Having been privileged to live in neighborhoods overflowing with film celebrities and major film makers during the past two decades I pretty much take their presence in my stride, but this week a neighbor, friend and amazingly talented woman Leslie Zemeckis is premiering her latest film Grandes Horizontales at the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara her hometown and mine. The festival ran from March 2-12, 2022.

This film is one of absolute empowerment for women film goers on understanding how a select group of females in past centuries used their sexual prowess to experience lavish lives in society through their private and sometimes publicized relationships with groups of rich and powerful men who insured them opulent comfort zones to enjoy the best of life, finest in clothes and jewels and valuable properties.  Zemeckis worked on this project for five years and did her own extensive research in Paris, France and Los Angeles.

She shared that the lives of the courtesans always fascinated her, and the subject was largely unexplored without prejudice so thought she would jump in.  The research was done solely by the filmmaker who said she likes to hold all the information in her own head, and then cross reference things. The film was shot in Paris and here in Santa Barbara and features some amazing photographs, paintings, and sculptures of courtesans of the period.

The narration of the film by Zemeckis and Andrew Kursanov is done with sensitivity and at times a sense of fun, but always filled with interesting personal detail on how these clever women managed to live such amazing lives, as well as details on the sad endings of some. Cinematography was done so well by Clay Westervelt, educational, sensual but not sensational.

Full Cast & Crew include Leslie Zemeckis, Writer, Director, Filmmaker Cast: Andrew Kirsanov, Dianna Miranda, Michelle L’Amour, Sheri Hellard, Mosh, Minxie Minnieux, Ed Anthony Budzius, Producers: Donnalee Austin, Leslie Zemekis, Robert Zemeckis, Executive Producer, Music Oliver Schnee, Joel Sill Executive Music Supervisor , Film Editing, Evan Finn, Brent Summer and Leslie Zemeckis, Make Up, Sara Chamiedes, Poster Arts Jason Kauzlarich.

Writer/Director/Filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis at Grandes Horizontales Premiere SBIFF (photo: Bonnie Carroll, LBN)

Knowing this woman in my community as the wife of Robert Zemeckis who is a rock star filmmaker in his own right, and as a dedicated mother who creates divine dessert videos to share with friends, a charitable supporter of the community as well as the creator of a writer’s group that inspires and offers unique assistance to other women authors. I am not at all surprised by this outstanding film, but I was delighted knowing that before the Santa Barbara International Film Festival began the Leslie Zemeckis Grandes Horizontales film won three major awards from Hollywood and Los Angeles Film groups.

Congratulations to this talented Santa Barbara lady and thank you for this beautifully researched and presented story on a subject that warrants exploration and understanding.  For tickets to SBIFF visit www.sbiff.org.



Arlington Theatre Yellow & Blue Tower Lights

The Opening Night of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was sensational and a bevy of Short Film Directors, Actors, and Filmmakers walked the Red Carpet, along with Dignitaries and Randy Rowse, Santa Barbara Mayor and his wife. KEYT 3-12-13 Anchor Beth Farnsworth Ward and additional media representatives were busy interviewing attendees and a small army of photographers were getting their best shots.

Attendees seemed so happy to once again be attending the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at The Arlington Theatre. 400 volunteers showed up to help and each year two of my personal favorites are there to assist the army of media who come to cover the outstanding Film Industry event. Everyone is wearing mask for covid safety and must show proof of vacination, but no one cares and  are just so glad to be together once again doing what they love.

We are all heart sick about the Ukraine and the Arlington Theatre/SBIFF were proud to display the national colors of the country in the Arlington Tower as a reminder to all to keep the Ukrainian people in our prayers.

SBIFF raised nearly $100,000 to assist Ukraine people.


(Photo: Bonnie Carroll LBN)

Hollywood Reporter Outstanding Directors Award  2022

(SBIFF Photo)


Day 2 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a tribute to this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter. Paul Thomas Anderson (LICORICE PIZZA), Kenneth Branagh (BELFAST), Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (DRIVE MY CAR), and Steven Spielberg (WEST SIDE STORY) received their awards during the live event and discussed their work with The Hollywood Reporter’s longtime awards columnist and host of its popular Awards Chatter podcast, as well as a professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Scott Feinberg.

Hollywood Reporter Columnist Scott Feinberg (Photo: Bonnie Carroll LBN)

Steven Spielberg on why he selected West Side Story for his first musical to direct: “I’ve always felt such a passion for West Side Story because it was the first ever musical brought into my life as a ten year old… within two weeks I had all of the songs memorized… when I’m singing even though I can’t sing, that’s how you know I’m really having fun.”


Jane Campion on the progress being made by female filmmakers in the industry: “I used to have female leads because I wanted to see someone that looked like me, a woman… because of the Me Too movement and more women moving into the film space, I now feel emboldened to tell whatever story I fall in love with. 

Ryausuke Hamaguchi on the key to pacing a three hour film and keeping the audience engaged: “We present a mystery to the audience to rouse their interest. By doing this, while the audience’s interest is still there, we can slow it down to a leisurely pace and show them other things. There is a limit to how long an audience’s interest can be sustained.”

Paul Thomas Anderson on casting two lead actors without acting experience: “Acting is kind of bullshit in a way… it’s about fearlessness and confidence, support, and respect… it’s kind of thrilling to watch two people who have never done it before, and it’s one the of the great memories I’ll have from making this film.”

Kenneth Branagh on an alternate Belfast ending featuring himself: “There was one version of the film where an older version of Buddy returns to Belfast, and I’ll give you three guesses who that actor was… but in the end the sequence just didn’t feel right.”

The Outstanding Directors Award was created to recognize a select group of directors who have pushed the boundaries in their storytelling and created films that showcase the art of filmmaking at its best.




Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron Photo: SBIFF

Day 3 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG concluded with a live tribute to Kristen Stewart, who received the American Riviera Award. Stewart was honored at an in-person conversation about her career leading up to this year’s performance as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s SPENCER from NEON.

Stewart sat down with Indiewire Editor-at-Large Anne Thompson for an in depth discussion about her career.
Highlights from the event included:  

During Stewart’s conversation with Thompson, guests enjoyed clips from her acting career, including Panic Room, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Into the Wild, Adventureland, Still Alice, The Runaways, Twilight, Happiest Season, Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper, and Spencer.


Following the conversation, Charlize Theron presented her with the American Rivera Award. Theron remarked: “You have a real commitment and it shows in everything you do. It's been so fun to watch the trajectory of your career…. Your most recent film, ‘Spencer’, I have to say is my favorite work of yours to date. It’s not an easy task to take on the most iconic figure in modern history, but you let us into this character. You gave us a glimpse into her soul in the most tactful and heart wrenching way.”


Upon accepting her award, Stewart said: “Thank you for acknowledging me at this time in my life. I’m in such a good place to receive it.” She also thanked Spencer director Pablo Larrain saying “I wish he was here right now. Thank you forever for this.”


The American Riviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Previous recipients include Delroy Lindo, Renée Zellweger, Viggo Mortenson, Sam Rockwell, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Tommy Lee Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane.



Day 4 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG began with the Writers panel conversation on Saturday morning. Cinephiles gathered together for Oscar nominated producers Kenneth Branagh (BELFAST), Siân Heder (CODA), Adam McKay (DON'T LOOK UP), Denis Villeneuve (DUNE), Zach Baylin (KING RICHARD), Maggie Gyllenhaal (THE LOST DAUGHTER), Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG) and Eskil Vogt (THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD) in conversation led by Los Angeles Times writer Glenn Whipp.

Kenneth Branagh, BELFAST, Director

In the afternoon, the festival continued with the Producers panel conversation with Laura Berwick (BELFAST), Patrick Wachsberger (CODA), Kevin Messick (DON'T LOOK UP), Teruhisa Yamamoto (DRIVE MY CAR), Mary Parent (DUNE), Tim White (KING RICHARD), Sara Murphy (LICORICE PIZZA), J. Miles Dale (NIGHTMARE ALLEY), Tanya Seghatchian (THE POWER OF THE DOG) and Rita Moreno (WEST SIDE STORY). The conversation was led by Indiewire Editor-at-Large Anne Thompson

Virtuoso Award Winner 2022 (SBIFF Photo)

The evening concluded with the presentation of and interviews with the recipients of the Virtuosos Award, an honor created to recognize a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue. Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), Emilia Jones (CODA), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Simon Rex (Red Rocket), and Saniyya Sidney (King Richard) discussed their work with Turner Classic Movies host and IMDb special correspondent host Dave Karger, who joined the conversation for his 11th year.




Performers of the Year Aunjanue Ellis, Will Smith with Presenter "King Richard" Director Renaldo Marcus Green (Photo: Bonnie Carroll LBN)

 Day 5 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival featured a tribute presented by Mantiou Fund to Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, who received the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award, for their outstanding performances in this year’s “King Richard” from Warner Bros Pictures.


Columnist Scott Feinberg, Award Recipients Aunjanue Ellis, Will Smith with"King Richard" Director Renaldo Marcus Green (Photo: Bonnie Carroll LBN)

This I am sure will go down as the most entertaining award tribute of all time. Will Smith was really in rare form, and kept the audience laughing non-stop as Scott Feinberg, who did a great job, while struggling to stay on script.

Smith and Ellis sat down with The Hollywood Reporter’s longtime awards columnist and host of its popular Awards Chatter podcast, Scott Feinberg for an in-depth discussion about their cinematic careers.

Feinberg took both award-winning actors down a memory lane on their bodies of work and Smith who said “I feel funny tonight” kept the audience in stitches throughout the evening. From sharing funny stories on his rapper days to “King Richard” and Aunjanue on her role as Mrs. Hunt in if Beale Street Could Talk to her amazing performance in “King Richard” as well as the role she played in “The Maids” and so many more.

An extremely powerful kitchen scene from “King Richard” was shown and everyone, including Smith was amazed to learn it was the first time Ellis had seen it and her response to the scene was “I just feel that I am grateful to you, Will. That’s what I feel. That was fun to do, and the fact that director Reinaldo Marcus Green and Will Smith believed in me, I got to do that,” she said.

Director of “King Richard” Renaldo Marcus Green presented Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis with their Outstanding Performer of the Year Awards and said "working with them was like being in an ongoing Master Class".

The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year. Past recipients of the award include Sacha Baron Cohen, Adam Driver, Rami Malek, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron.

Earlier in the day the Animation Panel. Attendees gathered for Charise Castro Smith – Co-Writer/Co-Director (ENCANTO), Charlotte De Le Gournerie – Producer (FLEE), Enrico Casarosa – Co-Writer/Director (LUCA) Mike Rianda – Co-Writer/Co-Director (THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES), Don Hall – Co-Director (RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON) in conversation, led by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

World-wide Media Coverage for Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis SBIFF Performers of the Year Award 2022  Photo: Bonnie Carroll, LBN




[Lin-Manuel Miranda at the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival]

(Photo Credit:Getty/Santa Barbara International Film Festival)

 Day 6 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured the Variety Artisans Award honoring those nominated for an Academy Award in below-the-line categories. Cinephiles gathered together for Lin-Manuel Miranda (Song/ENCANTO), Germaine Franco (Score/ENCANTO), Greig Fraser (Cinematography/DUNE), Tamara Deverell (Production Design/NIGHTMARE ALLEY), Peter Sciberras (Editing/THE POWER OF THE DOG), Kelly Port (Visual Effects/SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME), Paul Massey (Sound/NO TIME TO DIE), Jacqueline West (Costume Design/DUNE), Bob Morgan (Costume Design/DUNE), Frederic Aspiras (Makeup/Hair/HOUSE OF GUCCI) and Göran Lundstrom (Makeup/Hair/HOUSE OF GUCCI) in conversation led by Variety Senior Artisans Award Editor Jazz Tangcay.





Penelope Cruz Montecito Award Recipient 2022 Photo: Bonnie Carroll, LBN

 Day 7 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a tribute to Penelope Cruz, who received the Montecito Award. Cruz was recognized for her impressive career and performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS from Sony Pictures Classic. Cruz sat down with SBIFF Executive Director, Roger Durling, for an in depth discussion about her journey to stardom and her impressive career in film and television.

During Cruz’s conversation with Durling, guests enjoyed clips from her acting career, including All About My Mother, Nine, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Broken Embraces, Parallel Mothers and more. Her husband, actor Javier Bardem, was sitting in the audience and enjoyed every moment of her interview and her great love for the craft of acting.


Javier Bardem in the Audience as Penelope Cruz accepts Montecito Award from Filmaker Adoardo Ponti, son of Sophia Loren Photos: Bonnie Carroll, LBN

Following Cruz’s conversation with Durling, she and the audience were gifted with a surprise personal video message from Sophia Loren. While presenting the award Loren told Cruz, “The day I met you on the set of Nine more than twelve years ago, I knew that you would be part of my life forever. I knew I found a sister, a daughter, a colleague and a great, great friend.” Sophia Loren’s son Filmmaker Edoardo Ponti presented the award to Penelope Cruz on behalf of his mother who was not well enough to travel. This video tribute from Sophia Loren brought tears to my eyes, such an honor and given with such love, a major moment of the 2022 SBIFF.

As she accepted her award, Cruz said, “It’s really difficult not to cry after seeing my friend Sophia dedicate those words to me. I love her with all my heart… Thank you, Santa Barbara International Film Festival. I have so many great memories because I was here many years ago with Roger, who is always so kind and so generous to us… I want to share this with Pedro and use this opportunity to thank him again for his trust, for pushing me, for being able to imagine me doing things that I cannot even imagine myself doing.”

The Montecito Award is named after one of the most beautiful and stylish areas in Santa Barbara. Past recipients include Amanda Seyfreid, Lupita Nyong’o, Melissa McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan, Isabelle Huppert, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Bill Condon, and Naomi Watts.









[Benedict Cumberbatch at the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival]

(Photo Credit: Getty/Santa Barbara International Film Festival)

Day 8 of the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a tribute to Benedict Cumberbatch, who received the Cinema Vanguard Award. Cumberbatch was honored for his  remarkable career and most recent performance in Jane Campion’s THE POWER OF THE DOG on Netflix. 

 Cumberbatch sat down with Deadline’s awards columnist, Pete Hammond for an in depth discussion about his career. During Cumberbatch’s conversation with Hammond, guests enjoyed clips from his acting career, including 12 Years A Slave, The Imitation Game, Sherlock, Dr. Strange, Patrick Melrose, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, and Power of the Dog. Following Cumberbatch’s conversation with Hammond, Jane Campion presented him with the Cinema Vanguard Award. When presenting, Campion told Cumberbatch, “Every generation has their wunderkinds. First there was Olivier, then there was Daniel Day Lewis… and now there is you.”

 “Vanguard means to be at the front of something, doesn’t it? You can’t really be at the front of anything without anyone behind you… I do feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of many, many people… I thank every single one of you that has paid for a ticket and gone to a theater.”

The Cinema Vanguard Award recognizes actors who have forged their own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film. Previous honorees include Carey Mulligan, Laura Dern, Michael B. Jordan, William DeFoe, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Nicole Kidman, Peter Sarsgaard, Christoph Waltz, Vera Farmiga, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stanley Tucci and Ryan Gosling.







Nicole Kidman & Javier Bardem

Academy Award-winners Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman (remotely) were honored with the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award at the 37th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. They received the award on Thursday, March 10th following conversation about their careers leading up to this year’s performances as Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s BEING THE RICARDOS from Amazon Studios, for which they have both received individual Lead Actor SAG Award nominations. Bardem and Kidman previously won Oscars for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) and THE HOURS (2002), respectively.

Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz

“Nicole Kidman continues to challenge and reinvent herself year after year. Javier Bardem’s talent is a gift to the world. Only in Hollywood could these actors find themselves playing America’s all time favorite tv couple. It’s cause for celebration.” remarked Leonard Maltin.

Javier Bardem accepts Maltin Modern Master Award from Aaron Sorkin - Leonard Maltin at the Podium (Maltin Modern Master Award) (photos: Bonnie Carroll, LBN)

Nicole Kidman appeared on Zoom to accept her Maltin Modern Master Award from Aaron Sorkin, which was a challenge for all, but she was charming and shared that for her it was all about the work and that her experience on fear of developing a character for a known celebrity that was true but not a disappointment to people who knew and loved Lucy was daunting. Kidman, charming as usual, expressed her admiration and thanks to co-star Javier Bardem who she described as so generous and Aaron Sorkin who always had her back.

Nicole Kidman (vis Zoom) Accepts Maltin Modern Master Awards 2022

Javier Bardem was nothing short of totally entertaining, and kept the entire audience, all 2,000 of them in stitches with his funny stories on creating his character, working with Nicole, and limited takes to deliver his award winning performance. Javier praised Aaron Sorkin to the moon and seemed so very grateful to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for their kindness of honoring him twice at The Arlington Theatre.


Javier Bardem 2022 SBIFF Maltin Modern Master Recipient (photos: Bonnie Carroll, LBN)

Both Kidman and Bardem are up for awards for their performance in "Being the Richardo's." Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear, and cultural taboos in Academy Award®-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama Being the Ricardos. A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage, and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy.

The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin.  Past recipients include Bill Murray, Brad Pitt, Glenn Close, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.



The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, announced the award-winning films for the 37th edition. Awards were presented at a ceremony hosted by Maune Contemporary Gallery in Santa Barbara with Jury and Filmmakers in attendance.

Maune Contemporary Gallery Hosted SBIFF award-winning Filmmakers photo: Bonnie Carroll LBN
"We are so thrilled to have had our slate of 200 films from 54 countries so well-received by festivalgoers. A few films even elicited standing ovations. We are very proud that filmmakers came from as far as Nepal, Iran and Uganda--and many countries in between-- to attend with their films. We thank all the wonderful filmmakers and our enthusiastic Santa Barbara audience for making this such a joyful return to theaters, and a celebration of terrific world cinema." commented SBIFF’s Programming Director Claudia Puig.


       SBIFF Programing Director Claudia Puig (photo: Bonnie Carroll LBN)           (photos unavailable of some award winners who departed early for home)
The films were chosen by jury members Carlos Aguilar, Justine Bateman, Dupe Bosu, Julie Carmen, Annlee Ellingson, Tim Grierson, Beandrea July, Elizabeth Lo, Scott Mantz, Jose Novoa, Gil Robertson, Charles Solomon, Angie Wang, Steve Zahn, and Anthony & Annette Zerbe.
Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy's RÓISE AND FRANK (MO GHRÁ BUAN) Photo: Bonnie Carroll, LBN

Best Documentary Short Film Award: Jordan Matthew Horowitz’s LALITO 10 photo: Bonnie Carroll, LBN

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film: Marilyn Cooke's NO GHOST IN THE MORGUE (PAS DE FANTÔME À LA MORGUE) Photo: LBN

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: Zacharias Kunuk's THE SHAMAN’S APPRENTICE

Best Documentary Award: Jon-Sesrie Goff's AFTER SHERMAN

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: Shawkat Amin Korki's THE EXAM (EZMÛN)
Best Middle Eastern/Israeli Film Award: Dina Amer's YOU RESEMBLE ME (TU ME RESSEMBLES) (photo:LBN)

Best Nordic/Dutch Film Award: Marianne Blicher's MISS VIBORG (Photo: LBN)

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: Martín Barrenechea and
Nicolás Branca's 9

Joseph Woodard Presented the SB Independent Award


Best Intern Awards 2022



(Getty/SBIFF photo)

2022 Women's Panel: Diane Warren, Amber Richards, SBIFF Moderator, Jessica Kingdom, Lynn Harris, and Elizabeth Mirzaei

Following the SBIFF Filmmaker's Breakfast, the Women’s Panel took place in the Arlington Theatre (new location, usually at Lobero Theatre), featuring Diane Warren (Composer, “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days) Jessica Kingdom (Director, Ascension), Lynn Harris (Producer, King Richard), Amber Richards (Set Decorator, Power of the Dog) and Elizabeth Mirzaei (Director, Three Songs for Benazir) in a conversation led by SBIFF Program Director Madelyn Hammond. They all offered their experience, strengh and hope to make it yet another great SBIFF women's panel.

This was a very inspiring and informative panel, all part of Oscar nominated films for 2022, who shared the joys and challenges of working on their individual films, and on attitudes that take women over the top in the filmmaking and music industry.

Lynn Harris shared insight on working with Will Smith “He was so kind and wonderful, and generous. Generous to the other actors, especially to the young girls, it was their first big movie with a movie star… we shut down seventeen days into the pandemic… when we did come back, Will, truly as a leader, kept morale up at time when it was very difficult and scary.”

Elizabeth Mirzaei on Three Songs for Benazir said  “We can see what’s happening in Ukraine right now… we feel like it just can’t be an accident that we feel an ability for us to speak about the way that the world looks at the people who are considered the ‘other’. That’s why we feel this movie is important right now in a time when the world is confronting multiple wars… we hope this film helps…”

The so entertaining Diane Warren on not taking no for an answer said “Everybody on this panel has been told ‘no, you can’t do this, it’s not gonna work’. I’ve been told that so many times, it’s like ‘fuck you, yes I’m gonna do it!’ …I read something once that said you've gotta be dyslexic when you hear the word ‘no’ so then, it’s ‘on’!”

Jessica Kingdom getting the film done said “When we first got our funding from our sales agent, they gave us a small loan to go and do the initial shoot…. We didn’t know if we could pull this off or not because the vision was so ambitious… I told the other producer, ‘the loan says we have to deliver a movie by this date, but it doesn’t say it has to be a good movie!’ …that was the mindset I was going into it with, just try to finish it. You don’t have to shoot for greatness, you just have to shoot for finishing it. And this is what we ended up with!”

Amber Richards said US is important source for set decor. “I got to come over and go to prop houses here, because we don’t have that in New Zealand. I was completely blown away by the access that you have here to critical collections. I spent four and a half days here and filled a forty-foot container!”


Closing Film 37th SBIFF "Dionne Warwick Don't Make me Over"


2022 SBIFF Honorees:

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, will take place LIVE on March 2 through March 12, 2022. Official events including screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout the city, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. This year’s lineup will be announced February 2022. For additional information or to buy passes, visit sbiff.org.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

 The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.



March 1 and 3, 2022
Harmony Gold Theatre, Hollywood
7655 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

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