Santa Barbara International Film Festival: Films directed by women

Santa Barbara International Film Festival has started! The 31st annual SBIFF kicked off at 8pm with the US premiere of THE LITTLE PRINCE at Arlington Theater, followed by the Opening Night Gala in Paseo Nuevo. As usual, I tend to seek some special films directed by women directors and I have to say I'm quite surprised this year. A fair number of films directed by women has been accepted to 31st SBIFF's programme, and I've picked some of them out for a recommendation.
Also, there's a rather interesting panel this year, which centers around women in the film industry. At Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s panel series, highly acclaimed industry professionals come together for lively, informative, and revealing panel discussions. Taking place during both weekends of the Festival, the Lobero Theatre fills with 600+ attendees to hear straight from the mouths of the year’s most notable filmmakers.

Successful women from all corners of film production, from editing, directing, costuming, casting, production design, and producing, come together to discuss their unique experiences in the film industry during the Creative Forces: Women in the Business Panel.

As for the recommended films, you can see them listed below:

155 min / 2015 / Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro / US Premiere / Subtitled

SECTION(S): International
Directed by Ivona Juka

Written by Ivona Juka
Starring Helena Beljan, Lana Barić, Nataša Dorčić, Vojislav Brajović, Filip Križan, Goran Hajduković, Juraj Dabić, Nataša Janjić, Sebastian Cavazza

Three daughters battle for acceptance, redemption and new opportunities. Dora is a neglected girl, who dreams about becoming a football manager. Suddenly, her outlaw father enters her life and they build a close relationship. Ives, a director, nurses her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s. As she loses him, she gradually loses the ground beneath her feet. Nataša, successful producer, is pregnant. When things go awry for her, she decides to confront her estranged father. All three carry their fathers, yet they need them to confront themselves.

85 min / 2015 / New Zealand / US Premiere

SECTION(S): International
Directed by Leanne Pooley

Written by Leanne Pooley, Tim Woodhouse
Starring Fraser Brown, Andrew Grainger, Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Gareth Reeves, Tainui Tukiwaho, Matt Whelan

Director Leanne Pooley (THE TOPP TWINS) fuses documentary, fiction, and state-of-the-art digital animation in this astonishing recreation of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, one of the bloodiest and costliest blunders of the First World War. On the 25th of April, 1915, thousands of young men from New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and Newfoundland (thirty-four years before it joined Canada) stormed the beaches on the Gallipoli peninsula in what is now Turkey. By the time the campaign ended, over eight months later, tens of thousands had died. Although the Gallipoli battles had no impact on the outcome of the First World War, the campaign was a turning point for New Zealand and other Commonwealth nations in the forging of their own identities.
Known to Festival audiences for her documentaries THE TOPP TWINS and BEYOND THE EDGE, Leanne Pooley has chosen to merge her non-fiction filmmaking skills with the narrative form. Utilizing state of-the-art animation to dramatize actual letters written by soldiers and medical personnel while they were at Gallipoli, Pooley sketches a gripping and profoundly moving picture of a battlefront whose name has become synonymous with failure and needless carnage.


83 min / 2016 / USA / WORLD Premiere

SECTION(S): Global Hollywood
Directed by Anne Goursaud

Written by Anne Goursaud
Starring Tony Bill, James Carabatsos, Glenn Close, Rob Cohen, John Dean, Lucy Fisher, Lawrence Kasdan, Cappy Lawton, Mike Medavoy, Marcia Nasatir, Michele Nasatir, Daniel Petrie Jr., Dorothea G. Petrie, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Tommy Swerdlow

A CLASSY BROAD is the story of an eighty-seven-year-old woman, Marcia Nasatir, who transcends generations, a woman with an insatiable curiosity, a woman who worked hard (and still does), a woman who has always loved a good story since she learned to read at the precocious age of three. “If you can read, pay attention. You can conquer the world.” A Jewish girl from San Antonio, TX, Marcia forged a career in the movie business when few women did.
As vice-president in charge of production at United Artists (with Mike Medavoy as head of production), she was involved in the making of some of the greatest films in Hollywood history: THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, CARRIE, ROCKY, COMING HOME, the remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, APOCALYPSE NOW. After seventeen studios turned down THE BIG CHILL, Marcia, then head of Carson Films, got the movie made in 1982. She also produced movies as an independent producer for television and film: IRONWEED (1986), HAMBURGER HILL (1987), and Mrs. Cage (1992). The most recent film she produced was when she was eighty-three years old, DEATH DEFYING ACTS (2008). In 2007, Marcia and her old client and friend, Lorenzo Semple, started to review films on their show Reel Geezers, and they became an instant sensation on YouTube. Through the years, Marcia sold many writers’ first scripts, recommended writers that were unknown, recommended actors to directors that didn’t want them, mentored readers, and gave many people their first jobs. A CLASSY BROAD weaves in and out of Marcia’s current life and friends to recall her past.


105 min / 2016 / USA / WORLD Premiere

SECTION(S): Independent
Directed by Alison Eastwood

Written by Anthea Anka
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Paula Malcomson, Claire van der Boom, Delroy Lindo, Toby Hemingway, Dana Powell, Jeremy Sande, Susan McPhail, Amye Gousset, Jordan Salloum, Elise Fyke

Henry is a loner, living with his overprotective mother in a small Southern town called Battlecreek. Henry has a rare skin disease and must avoid sunlight. He lives his life at night–hanging out at the diner, working the night shift at the gas station, and swimming in the creek under the moonlight. Henry doesn’t know who he is or what he wants, until he meets Alison. When Alison’s car breaks down in Battlecreek, she answers the “help wanted” sign at the diner to pay for the repair. Henry is immediately drawn to the mysterious girl. Alison shows Henry that he can live a life he thought impossible, even at the cost of losing his mom and freeing him from his past.


93 min / 2015 / Austria / US Premiere / Subtitled

SECTION(S): International
Winner, Public Award for Most Popular Film, Montreal World Film Festival

Directed by Sabine Hiebler, Gerhard Ertl

Written by Sabine Hiebler, Gerhard Ertl, Cornelia Travnicek (novel)
Starring Anna Posch, Markus Subramaniam, Thomas Schubert, Steffi Reinsperger, Susi Stach, Lola Khittl

Live. Love. Dance. Now! Mae roams the streets of Vienna as a punk in her dead brother’s Converse shoes. She lives on canned beer, sprays walls, tries her hand at poetry slams. She’s not interested in bourgeois life but in extreme experiences. When she is sent to an AIDS centre to work off a punishment, she meets and falls in love with the AIDS patient Paul. CHUCKS, the new film by Sabine Hiebler and Gerhard Ertl, tells the featherlight story of growing up between life and death. Full of humour, at times rebelliously loud, then utterly tender – completely in the spirit of the literary version it is based on, the popular novel by Cornelia Travnicek about which Clemens J. Setz once wrote: “If I were to get stuck in a lift with a character of contemporary literature, I would want it to be Mae. I don’t know whether I would come out safe and sound, but it would be worth it.” (Montreal World Film Festival)


12 min / 2015 / Australia / US Premiere

SECTION(S): Comedic Shorts
Directed by Bec Peniston-Bird

Written by Beth King
Starring Gillian Jones, Jack Charles, Damian Walshe-Howling, Emily Wheaton

Barb has always been fiercely independent, but as the twilight of life approaches, she struggles with the idea of a lonely future. Her oldest friend, Gus, is tired and dependent on the malicious care of his sadistic wife. When Barb commands her health worker, Tyson, to drive to a late-night rendezvous, she commits to a drastic course of action. What follows will dramatically alter the lives of those around her and force her to confront her true feelings for Gu

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