32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival Announces Award Winners

Photo Credit: SBIFF
February 13th, 2017



Audience Choice Award: MY HERO BROTHER

Best Documentary Award: MY HERO BROTHER

Best Documentary Short Film Award: REFUGE

Best Documentary Short Film Award: REFUGEE

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live Action Short Film: IT’S BEEN LIKE A YEAR

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: CONFINO

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film: THE CONSTITUTION

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: THE GOOD CATHOLIC

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: TAMARA

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: ANGRY ANUK

Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: SÁMI BLOOD


Santa Barbara, CA (February 11, 2017) –The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, announced today the highly anticipated winners for its 32nd year at a breakfast held in their honor. All eleven awards were announced, culminating in the coveted audience award, which went to MY HERO BROTHER. The films were chosen by jury members Richard Raymond, Joanna Kerns, Jesus Lloveras, Martin Gooch, Anthony & Arnette Zerbe, Alan Marshall, Artie Schmidt, Janet Walker, Phyllis de Picciotto, Perry Lang, Mimi deGruy, and Richard Harris.


Three awards were handed out for short films. The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Cameron Fay’s IT’S BEEN LIKE A YEAR, chosen for its humorous depiction of a young man becoming increasingly distracted during a romantic rendezvous. CONFINO, directed by Nico Bonomolo, received the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film. When asked why they chose CONFINO, jury members Mimi deGruy and Perry Lang stated, “With a combination of beautiful rendering, music and heart, it’s a poignant portrait of an artist reaching out in the dark for community.” Finally, Best Documentary Short Film was awarded to two films: Matthew K. Firpo’s REFUGE, and REFUGEE, directed by Joyce Chen and Emily Moore. REFUGEE was chosen because of the filmmakers’ unique portrait of a West African woman that leaves her children to come to the US to provide them with a better future. Jury members chose REFUGE for its impressive chronicle of stories from the European Refugee Crisis, and for its messages of humanity and hope.


The Nueva Vision Award for Spanish / Latin American Cinema went to Elia Schneider’s TAMARA, chosen by jury members for being so bold and straightforward with such an important and relevant issue as transitioning genders, and for electrifying filmmaking with powerful and emotional performances.


MY HERO BROTHER was awarded the Best Documentary Film Award, as well as the Audience Choice Award, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Independent. Director Yonatan Nir’s stirring documentary was chosen for its heartwarming portrayal of a group of young people with Down syndrome embarking on an arduous trek through the Himalayas.


Paul Shoulberg’s THE GOOD CATHOLIC took home the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema. Jury members Joanna Kerns and Richard Harris commented that “"Every once in awhile you get the privilege to watch a film that pulls you in emotionally from the opening moment, THE GOOD CATHOLIC is that movie. Economically written, flawlessly directed, cast and performed, this intimate film about a young priest’s crisis of faith after meeting a woman in confessional, takes you on that journey.”


The Social Justice Award for Documentary Film went to ANGRY INUK, directed by Althea Arnaquq-Baril. Jury members chose the controversial film for its deep dive into the central role of seal hunting in the lives of the Inuit, and the negative impact that international campaigns against the seal hunt have had on them.


Jury members chose THE CONSTITUTION as the recipient of the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for Best International Film. Jury members praised the performances of the actors and applauded the film as a richly conceived and ambitious look at multiple characters that live in the same building but avoid each other because of their differences in assets, sexual habits, nationality, and religion.


Sponsored by Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties ADL, The ADL Stand Up Award went to Wiktor Ericsson’s STRAWBERRY DAYS. The purpose of the ADL Stand Up Award is to recognize and celebrate the impact that storytelling can have in fostering mutual understanding and respect. “Strawberry Days” was chosen for its brave portrayal of the exploitation of foreign workers, and its depiction of the touching bond that forms between a 15-year-old worker and the farmer’s daughter.


The Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film was awarded to SÁMI BLOOD, directed by Amanda Kernell. The film was selected for its powerful and vivid representation of racism in the 1930s and compelling story of a 14-year-old girl determined to leave her life behind.