or Our Experience at SBIFF
by Mandi Harrison
This past weekend, we went to California to attend the Virtuosos Awards at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. This was to honor to last year’s breakout performances. The honorees were Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman- unfortunately she was sick that night), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Hong Chau (Downsizing), John Boyega (Detroit… and Star Wars), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) and MARY. J. BLIGE. (Mudbound). That’s right-
we were in the same room with Mary J.
(Five minute dance party to Family Affair)
Okay, I’m back.
We’ve been to a few film festivals, each one completely different, and this event was very interesting. This isn’t a large festival, but it is held in high esteem because it caters to the press. Watching how the press line worked on the red carpet was fascinating. I always watch the red-carpet arrivals before awards shows on tv, but I only saw that one channel’s view point and it looks chaotic in the back ground. This was a well-oiled machine. Everyone arrived in shifts, and worked their way down. Short and sweet. That was my first aha! moment.
I’m going to come back to my second thought in a little bit. My third take away was how much work the actors had to put into this. Chris loves to follow press tours for movie releases (I do too, but not with the devotion that he does). He tells me all these things that he’s discovered or realized about how the actors are on the tour. It is amazing, and last Saturday, we got to witness it. The actors may have been receiving an award, but it was really a press stop. The majority of them are nominated for the Oscars, so they are still campaigning. This was a night out for us, but it was a day at the office for them.
Back to my second thought. These awards were for the breakout performances of the year. Except for Downsizing, we’ve watched all the honorees’ movies. They all were outstanding. Timothée Chalamet ripped me to shreds in Call Me By Your Name. This year had some amazing movies, some of the best in many years. Women in particular had some incredible performances. Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Sally Hawkins, Margot Robbie, Octavia Spencer, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter- just to name a few. But’s not just the actors who make the movie, or the director or producer or the writer. It’s every person that comes on that set to work, or works on the editing or any one of a hundred roles that make up a production. And every time you go to the theater or buy the blu-ray or watch on a streaming service, you are supporting that person’s livelihood. And validating their dream.
Every time you choose to watch a movie that has a female director, or a female lead, or a person of color in a leading role, you are making a case for more movies like this to be made. Because the language Hollywood speaks is money, and if something is successful, they want more and more and more. Supporting these films is the way to keep them coming.
Another way to support film is to go to a local film festival. Last year was the first time I went to the Phoenix Film Festival and I was impressed. There were several movies that we would never have gotten to see if we hadn’t gone. For a lot of filmmakers, that is the only way their film will be seen by a large number of people. I highly recommend going if you can.
It takes a lot of people to get a movie made. It's all made possible by people who enjoy and support film. We are still in the development of our project, but we feel the support of everyone around us. We appreciate any type of support and will continue to need it as we get closer to putting Sydney, Arizona on the big screen.
Thank you so much!