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Santa Barbara Film Festival: Jennifer Lawrence
Santa Barbara Film Festival
Santa Barbara International Film Festival | Barbara Singer Photo

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is fast becoming the place to be just weeks before the Oscars. Festival tributes were bestowed on this year’s Oscar contenders Ben Affleck (Director, “Argo”), Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor, “Lincoln”), Quentin Tarantino (Writer/Director, “Django Unchained”), Amy Adams (Best Supporting Actress, “The Master”) and Jennifer Lawrence (Best Actress, “Silver Linings Playbook”). All the SBIFF tributes took place at the beautiful historic Arlington Theatre on State Street.

This fabulous festival is a ready-made showcase for new feature films, Oscar-nominated documentaries, shorts, animated films and many more. In 11 days from Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, 2013, more than 200 films were screened, catering to locals, visitors and international crowds in the beautiful seaside resort of Santa Barbara, California.

Santa Barbara Film Festival: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
Santa Barbara Film Festival: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon | Barbara Singer Photo

It’s a non-stop spirited time for film lovers, from the sold-out opening premiere of Henry-Alex Rubin’s complex film “Disconnect” — Rubin was joined by cast members Alexander Skarsgard, Paula Paton, Frank Grillo, Colin Ford, Haley Raman, Aviad Bernstein and screenwriter Andrew Stern — to the dramatic British closing film premiere of Rowan Ahale’s “Wasteland.” Following the opening film, everyone dined and danced at the festive annual downtown opening party at Paseo Nuevo.

The hottest festival tickets were notably the honoree tributes. Golden Globe Award-winning director and star of “Argo,” Ben Affleck, received the MODERN MASTER AWARD for his recognized career achievements. Interviewer for the evening was well-known critic Leonard Maltin, acknowledging that Affleck’s success is reflective of his hard work, integrity and dedication to the facts, as well as his devotion to his family.

Best pal Matt Damon proudly presented this award to his long time friend (both Affleck and Damon received an Academy award for the script of “Good Will Hunting”). Affleck shared that “Argo was a collective effort. “If there’s any mastery here, it is in partnership,” he said.

Santa Barbara Film Festival: Daniel Day-Lewis
Santa Barbara Film Festival: Daniel Day-Lewis | Barbara Singer Photo

Daniel Day-Lewis, two-time Oscar-winning British actor and recent Golden Globe winner who was nominated for his captivating performance as “Lincoln,” was the recipient of the SBIFF 2013 MONTECITO AWARD. This accomplished actor, who hails from a literary family, chooses his films wisely. The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg was on hand to review his career through films and personal observations, but Day-Lewis’ “Lincoln” co-star Sally Field presented the award to him, along with her heartfelt praise.

The SBIFF honors yearly break-out performances with the VIRTUOSOS AWARD, bestowed on actors whose memorable performances will long be remembered. This year, the honorees were Ann Dowd (“Compliance”), Elle Fanning (“Ginger and Rosa”), Ezra Miller (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), Eddie Redmayne (“Les Miserables”), Omar Sy (“The Intouchables”), and nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”). All the actors received their awards after an evening of exploring their careers.

Santa Barbara Film Festival: Quentin Tarantino
Santa Barbara Film Festival: Quentin Tarantino | Barbara Singer Photo

A surprising evening thrilled Santa Barbara when Director Quentin Tarantino received the AMERICAN RIVIERA AWARD. He commented on the secrets to his creative genius on film development and screenwriting, and proclaimed, “This film festival is awesome!”

Everyone agreed that Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Jennifer Lawrence gave a unique and compelling performance in “Silver Linings Playbook,” yet her loyal young fans cheered for her performance as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games.”

Executive Director of the SBIFF Roger Durling compared Lawrence to movie greats Carol Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert, and she was awarded the OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR AWARD. On her role in “Silver Linings,” she said, “I love Tiffany, because she’s different, and she is who she is.”

Santa Barbara Film Festival: Jennifer Lawrence
Santa Barbara Film Festival: Jennifer Lawrence | Getty Photo

On hand to interview SBIFF CINEMA VANGUARD AWARD honoree Amy Adams was Deadline Hollywood’s Pete Hammond, who gave her a whirlwind career review with clips. Her love of acting and a number of breakthrough roles have led to four Oscar nominations, including this year’s role in “The Master” by director Paul Thomas Anderson, who presented the award with co-star Joaquin Phoenix in the audience.

The seaside city of Santa Barbara loves surfing and underwater films, including Joshua Pomer’s “Discovering Mavericks” (a documentary about the huge California wave and surfing), “Storm Surfers 3D” (about surfing legends riding the most dangerous waves), and “The Last Ocean.” The late Mike de Gruy, a beloved festival friend and award-winning Marine biologist and underwater cinematographer, was also honored. The 28th SBIFF sea-inspired poster is dedicated to de Gruy.

Even foodies had their films at Screen Cuisine. The Audience Choice Award went to director Joseph Levy’s “Spinning Plates,” depicting three diverse restaurants in the USA and their chefs. Wines were up-close in “A Year in Burgundy,” and the complications involved in becoming a Sommelier were depicted in “Somm.”

Santa Barbara Film Festival: Amy Adams
Santa Barbara Film Festival: Amy Adams | Barbara Singer Photo

Every year the highly acclaimed panels on directing, producing, screenwriting and women filmmakers bring out aspiring industry hopefuls and well-known professionals.

Screenings filled the 11 exciting festival days with more than 600 city volunteers welcoming guests and locals. Student filmmakers were encouraged to make their own films for the 10-10-10 Competition.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival will be forever grateful to sponsor Lynda.com, software experts, and to executive director Roger Durling, whose love of movies and knowledge have given him the insight to put together this amazing film festival and its tributes for 10 years.

For a list of 2013 film listings and winners online visit the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Web site.

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