The 28th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will begin on Jan. 24 at the Arlington Theatre, honoring several prominent members of the film industry and introducing new films to the public.

The festival, which will run until Feb. 3, is an arts organization that presents work from international cinema with a focus on culture, environmental issues and the human condition. Films represent 49 different countries and include independent, international and documentary features as well as short films and animated short films.

The festival will begin with the premiere of LD Entertainment’s fiction feature Disconnect, which is directed by Henry-Alex Rubin, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary Murderball. The drama focuses on a group of community individuals searching for human connection and seeks to challenge societal obsession with social technicalities.

SBIFF’s 2013 lineup contains films featuring 13 Oscar nominees including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence. Nominees will be showcased and honored as Festival Tributes and given awards throughout the festival.

Panel discussions and education programs will also be offered during the event in a series that begins at 11 a.m. on Jan. 26 at the Lobero Theatre. Professionals will cover topics such as directing, screenwriting and producing. According to Film and Media Studies Undergraduate Advisor Joe Palladino, the panels are one of SBIFF’s specialties and provide insight and information for individuals interested in the filmmaking industry and in expanding their networking base.

“The writers and directors panel are often the high point of the festival though they often go way off track with crazy questions from the audience,” Palladino said. “I used to attend many of the lavish post-screening events which have now mellowed, but they are still great opportunities to meet with first time filmmakers and talk about their projects.”

A portion of the festival, called the 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, will feature screenplays written and directed by 10 student finalists chosen from Santa Barbara high schools and colleges. The 10-minute films, which will be judged on Feb. 3, are shot during the 10 days of the festival under the mentorship of an industry professional. Finalists will be announced on Jan. 22.

According to second-year film and media studies major Brittany Vu, who will be volunteering at the upcoming festival as part of the Tribute Team that works at the red carpet events, the festival offers her a unique perspective on the backstage work involved into preparing for the event.

“As a film major student, I look most forward to seeing the behind the scenes of the film festival,” Vu said. “I’ve always been really interested in production and the managing side of the film industry, and the SBIFF lets me experience and learn from that but on a smaller scale.”

Vu said students who are interested in attending the tribute awards section should purchase tickets online in advance, dress semi-formal and arrive early to stand in line.

“I really enjoyed my experience last year and it’s just nice to have a night out that doesn’t involve roaming around I.V.,” Vu said. “You don’t have to be a film major to go to the events or have any extensive knowledge on film. The SBIFF is, in my opinion, a film festival for the community that brings Hollywood to Santa Barbara and is just fun for anyone interested.”


A version of this article appeared on page 3 of January 14th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.