Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Announces 2021 Lineup & Drive-In Screenings

Opening Night Film: Invisible Valley

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, announced today the highly anticipated lineup for the 36th edition, which will run March 31 to April 10, 2021.

The festival will feature 47 world premieres and 37 U.S. premieres from 45 countries, along with tributes featuring the year's top talent, panel discussions, and free community education and outreach programs.

The festival will take on an entirely new look this year, as well, with the build-out of two state-of-the-art, beachside drive-in theaters sponsored by Toyota Mirai, where every film screening will be offered to the community for free, alongside a ticketed online component that will feature the entire film program in addition to SBIFF's notable celebrity tributes, industry panels, and filmmaker Q&As. 

SBIFF's Executive Director Roger Durling stated this morning, "This year's Festival will look different on many fronts, but we are unchanged when it comes to what's most important: our love of film, and our dedication to bringing forward a program of unmatched quality and sharing it with our community. We are so excited to have the opportunity to be a source of joy and optimism."


SBIFF 2021 will start with the Opening Night Film, presented by UGG®, on Wednesday, March 31, online and at both Drive-in theatres with the WORLD Premiere of INVISIBLE VALLEY directed by Aaron Maurer.

INVISIBLE VALLEY skillfully weaves together the seemingly disparate stories of undocumented farmworkers, wealthy snowbirds, and music festival-goers over the course of a year in California's Coachella Valley. The intimate, on-the-ground profiles drive home the incongruity of the lifestyles that coexist in an affluent community. In exploring the history of the region as well as its future, the film uncovers an undercurrent of a looming ecological crisis threatening it all.


For our Closing Night Film on Saturday, April 10, we put the spotlight on Santa Barbara to highlight a series of short documentaries by local filmmakers. This distinctive selection of films covers a range of iconic people and places in the Santa Barbara area including the Chumash people's annual trip to their historical village site, one woman's journey to restore ecosystems with her flock of sheep, a local musician who received care and support from Hospice of Santa Barbara, the story of a community surviving 2020 through outdoor dancing, an artist who specializes in miniature diorama art, and a celebrated local roller-skating icon who sparked a community group known as the SB Rollers.                                      


SBIFF has become an important showcase for Academy Award frontrunners, many of whom have arrived as nominees and gone on to win the Oscar. The 36th SBIFF proudly celebrates some of the year's finest work in film. All tributes will be online live-streamed.

  • Bill Murray will receive the Maltin Modern Master Award on Friday, April 2 at 6:00pm, moderated by Leonard Maltin.
  • The Virtuosos Award, presented by UGG®, will be awarded to Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Sidney Flanigan (Never Rarely Sometimes Always), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian), and Zendaya (Malcolm & Marie) on Saturday, April 3 at 6:00pm, moderated by Dave Karger.
  • Carey Mulligan will receive the Cinema Vanguard Award on Monday, April 5 at 2:00pm.
  • The Variety Artisans Awards, sponsored by Variety, will take place on Monday, April 5 at 6:00pm. Honorees to be announced.
  • The Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, will be Tuesday, April 6 at 6:00pm. Honorees to be announced.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen will receive the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award on Wednesday, April 7 at 6:00pm.
  • Delroy Lindo will receive the American Riviera Award on Thursday, April 8 at 6:00pm.
  • Amanda Seyfried will receive the Montecito Award on Friday, April 8 at 6:00pm.


SBIFF has become renowned for creating smart, insightful panels that feature a who's who in the world of filmmaking, including many Oscar contenders. Returning will be our annual Producers Panel, Writers Panel, and Women's Panel. All panels will be online live-streamed. Date/Time/Panelists to be announced.


Mike's FieldTrip to the Movies – Named for renowned nature cinematographer Mike deGruy, Mike's FieldTrip to the Movies uses filmmaking to stimulate creative, confident, and culturally aware thinkers. This year's Mike's FieldTrip to the Movies Program will be offered to 5,000-6,000 underserved and low-income 4th–6th grade students from Title I schools throughout Santa Barbara County. This year's program will include to-be-announced critically acclaimed films. SBIFF will provide classrooms with a virtual introduction to the art of filmmaking and storytelling through recorded discussions with the filmmakers and artisans from three of this year's top animated films, along with film education study guides and activities. Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust, Patagonia, Union Bank, and Volentine Family Foundation.

Film Studies Program – Returning for its seventh year, the national student Film Studies Program will virtually host 30 undergraduate film students from across the country to attend the Film Festival and take part in a packed curriculum that turns the festival into an interactive classroom. Participants receive priority access to the films, SBIFF's acclaimed Panel Series, filmmaker seminars, Tributes, as well as intimate Q&As with filmmakers, talent, and other professionals. SBIFF also invites an additional thirty college students in Santa Barbara to take an 11-Day Film Festival course through Santa Barbara City College. Sponsored by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin.

10–10–10 Student Screenwriting and Filmmaking Mentorship and Competition – The 10-10-10 Program is made up of 20 high school and college screenwriters and filmmakers from Santa Barbara. This year's program includes virtual workshops and mentorship, with each participant being paired with an industry mentor specifically assigned to them in addition to a Casting, Visual Effects, Producing and Sound Mentor who are there to mentor the students throughout their production process. The screenwriters and directors are paired together and guided through the process of taking a film from script to screen. Other program highlights include pitching sessions, table reads, guest speaker Q&A's and film talks. Sponsored by Final Draft Inc.

Free Filmmaker Seminars – SBIFF will again present educational seminars with filmmakers premiering at this year's festival. These seminars will be FREE to the public and will take place online daily during the Festival. 

The ADL Stand Up Award sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties – This award will be presented to a dramatic film in the festival that represents an important message consistent with ADL's efforts "to secure justice and fair treatment for all."

2021 FILMS

Below is the list of feature and short films at the 2021 SBIFF. For the complete list of films, synopses, and other special events please visit or the SBIFF app.

22 WORLD PREMIERE FEATURE FILMS (listed alphabetically)


Addict Named Hal

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Lane Michael Stanley


Alaskan Nets

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Jeff Harasimowicz


Broken Diamonds

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Peter Sattler


The Cinderella Addiction

Japan – World Premiere

Directed by Ryohei Watanabe


Cinema of Sleep

Canada – World Premiere

Directed by Jeffrey St. Jules



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Neil Myers


The Conservation Game

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Michael Webber



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Jessica Hester, Derek Schweickart


Daughters of the Waves

France – World Premiere

Directed by Lisa Monin, Sébastien Daguerressar


Evan Wood

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Niki Byrne


Highway One

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Jaclyn Bethany


The Hosts (Os donos da casa)

Brazil – World Premiere

Directed by Carla Dauden


Invisible Valley

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Aaron Maurer


The Knot (Uljhan)

India – World Premiere

Directed by Ashish Pant


La Recua – The Mule Pack Train

USA, Mexico – World Premiere

Directed by Darío Higuera Meza, Trudi Angell


Last Call

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Johnny Sweet


Reclaim Idaho

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Laura Wing-Kamoosi, Jim Kamoosi


The Revolution Generation

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Josh Tickell, Rebecca Tickell



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Robin Hauser



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Evan Jackson Leong


Trees of Peace

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Alanna Brown


We Burn Like This

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Alana Waksman


29 U.S. PREMIERE FEATURE FILMS (listed alphabetically)


Akilla's Escape

Canada – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Charles Officer



Spain – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Juanma Bajo Ulloa


Backyard Village

Iceland – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Marteinn Thórsson


A Bruddah's Mind (Cabeça de nêgo)

Brazil – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Déo Cardoso


By Your Side (À la folie)

France – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Audrey Estrougo


Erna at War (Erna i krig)

Denmark, Estonia, Belgium – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz


Fear (Strah)

Bulgaria – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Ivaylo Hristov



Italy – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Silvia Giulietti


The Flood Won't Come (Tvano nebus)

Lithuania – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Marat Sargsyan


The Forbidden Strings

Iran, Afghanistan, Qatar – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Hasan Noori


Fortitude (La fortaleza)

Venezuela, Colombia, France, Netherlands – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Jorge Thielen Armand


Four Mothers

Israel – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Dana Keidar Levin, Rephael Levin


The Ghosts (Los fantasmas)

Guatemala, Argentina – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Sebastián Lojo



Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Juan Pablo Félix


Ladies Of Steel

Finland – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Pamela Tola


The Last Ones (Viimeiset)

Finland, Estonia, Netherlands – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Veiko Õunpuu


Listen, Portugal

UK – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Ana Rocha de Sousa


The Man with the Answers

Cyprus, Greece, Italy – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Stelios Kammitsis


Mirage (Miraggio)

Switzerland – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Nina Stefanka


My First Summer

Australia – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Katie Found


One-Way to Moscow

Switzerland – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Micha Lewinsky


The Pit (Bedre)

Latvia, Finland – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Dace Pūce


Poppie Nongena

South Africa – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Christiaan Olwagen


Run Woman Run

Canada – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Zoe Hopkins


Six Angry Women

New Zealand – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Megan Jones


Teach Me if You Can

France – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Émilie Thérond


Under My Skin

Australia – U.S. Premiere

Directed by David O'Donnell


We Will Never Die

Argentina – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Eduardo Crespo


When I'm Done Dying

Turkey, USA, Germany – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Nisan Dağ


2021 SBIFF FEATURE FILMS  (non-premieres listed alphabetically)


American Skin


Directed by Nate Parker


Giants Being Lonely


Directed by Grear Patterson




Directed by Maria Sødahl


2021 SBIFF SHORTS – (listed alphabetically) 





Directed by Anthony Gilbert


Anything for You

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Matt Ferrucci


The Beast of Our Time

USA – World Premiere


The Beauty President


Directed by Whitney Skauge


Becoming Eddie


Directed by Lilan Bowden


Black Boys Can't Cry


Directed by Victor Gabriel



USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Henry Burge 


Can't Have It Both Ways


Directed by Morningstar Angeline


The Carousel


Directed by Valerio Berruti


Clara With a Mustache

Kosovo – World Premiere

Directed by Ilir Blakcori


A Critter Fable


Directed by Grace Fisher




Directed by Jonathan Barenboim


Dia De Los Muertos

USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by George Ortega, Ricardo Ortega



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Michael Love



Poland – World Premiere

Directed by Natalia Koniarz


Electric Lady

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Casey McGarry




Directed by Zachary Goodwin, Flynn Harris, Alex Flanagan, Alex Kumph


First Light


Directed by Amy Lee Ketchum




Directed by Leslie Hope


The Great Malaise


Directed by Amy Catherine Lepage



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Jahmil Eady


Homecoming: Journey to Limuw


Directed by Nick Zachar


Hospice of Santa Barbara Presents: Manuel's Story


Directed by Greg Kroes


I, Barnabé


Directed by Jean-François Lévesque



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Sajjad Shahhatami


In White Places

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Brian Keith Powell



USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Jeremy Lethco




Directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe WIlson


Keeping the Sport Alive

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Will Hahn



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Floyd Russ


The Kicksled Choir


Directed by Torfinn Iversen


Language of Dreams

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Peter Sasowsky


The Last Ferry from Grass Island

Hong Kong

Directed by Linhan Zhang


Lion on the Mat


Directed by Asali Echols



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Phinehas L Hodges




Directed by Farnoosh Abedi 


Man with a Broom

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Joel Rader, Lydia Leiber, Caroline Nouhan


A Man with Emotions


Directed by Miki Inoguchi


Mariah: A Boxer's Dream


Directed by Nina Meredith


The Mechanical Dancer


Directed by Jenna Jaillet


Mrs. Taylor's Show & Tell – A Prince Story


Directed by Victor Dean


My Father The Mover

South Africa 

Directed by Julia Jansch


Nickel in the Sand

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Mike Winger




Directed by Jane Musky


Not One More

USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Cameron Leingang


Ocean Stories: Michele's Magic Carpet Ride

USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Patrick Creadon, Greg Goggin


Pant Hoot


Directed by Richard Reens


Project H


Directed by Maharaki



Romania – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Bobby Barbacioru


River Tigers: Giant Taimen of the Russian Far East

USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Andy Maser, Adam Bagger



UK – World Premiere

Directed by Tom Berkeley, Ross White



US – World Premiere

Directed by Josema Roig




Directed by Christopher Oroza-Nostas


Shadow Of The Fox

US – World Premiere

Directed by Nooshin Meraji


Shepherd's Song


Directed by Abby Fuller



USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Kirsten Kearse 


Stoke Chasers


Directed by Jo Anna Edmison


Stormy and the Admirals


Directed by Dan Rybicky


Subtle Body

USA – U.S. Premiere

Directed by Robin Bisio


Sunshine In The Rain

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Benny Chen


Sweet Dreams

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Navid Saedi



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Ryan Oligmueller 



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Alex Astrella 


The Unknown


Directed by Stephanie Marshall



USA – World Premiere

Directed by Sonja O'Hara, Micah Stuart


Vuja De

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Casey McGarry


Waking Up

USA – World Premiere

Directed by James Patrick Nelson


Wally Wenda


Directed by Diane Russo


When It's Late

USA – World Premiere

Directed by Mitch Hadley


The Winter


Directed by Xin Li

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