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Santa Barbara Film Festival Unveils Radical 2020 Date Shift

The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will run from Jan. 15 to Jan. 25, 2020 — a radical shift in dates that will affect Oscar strategies as well as other festivals.

Next year, Academy Award nominations will be announced Jan. 13, two days before the start of the Santa Barbara Festival. The Oscar ceremony will be Feb. 9, which is two weeks earlier than this year’s event. Those changes will continue to have a ripple effect on the dates of other festivals as well as awards planning.

The Santa Barbara Fest has enjoyed a long (but unofficial) Oscar connection. This year, Variety presented its annual Artisan Awards earlier this week to nine behind-the-camera creatives who are all Oscar nominees; other contenders saluted at SBIFF this year include Glenn Close, Viggo Mortensen, Rami Malek, Melissa McCarthy, and Richard E. Grant.

Santa Barbara next year will overlap with Sundance, which will run from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2. This means Santa Barbara could conceivably offer more world premieres and showcases for new films and talent, since it’s more accessible for industry folk who live and work in Southern California. The BAFTA Awards will be Feb. 2, while the Berlin Film Festival will start Feb. 13.

This year’s Santa Barbara fest ran from Jan. 30 to Feb. 9.

The 11-day fest, under SBIFF executive director Roger Durling, offered 200-plus films, including many world premieres, as well as industry panels and celebrity tributes. The screenings and events are held throughout Santa Barbara, including the Arlington and Lobero theaters downtown.

Santa Barbara also announced award winners for the 34th festival at a breakfast on Sunday held at Belmond El Encanto. The audience choice award, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Independent, went to Kasper Torsting’s “In Love and War” (I krig & kærlighed), which also won the valhalla award for best Nordic film.

Other winners chosen by a 12-person jury: documentary short, Leslie Iwerks’s “Selling Lies”; live-action short, Christopher Wollebekk’s “My Brother Amal” (Min bror Amal); animated short, Rachel Johnson’s “Henrietta Bulkowski”; documentary feature, Johnny Sweet’s “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story”; international feature, Bettina Oberli’s “With the Wind” (Le vent tourne); award for independent cinema, Sam Friedlander’s “Babysplitters”; nueva vision award for Spain/Latin America cinema, Celia Rico Clavellino’s “Journey to a Mother’s Room” (Viaje al cuarto de una madre); ADL Stand Up Award, Javier Fesser’s “Champions” (Campeones); and social justice award for documentary, Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei’s “Laila at the Bridge.”

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