TW: mentions of sexual assault.
Nearing the end of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award ceremony was hosted at the Arlington Theatre. On Feb. 17, Todd Field, director of the smashing film “Tár,” and Martin McDonagh, director of the emotional yet comforting film “The Banshees of Inisherin,” were presented with the award.
While discussing how he wanted attendees to react to the film festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Executive Director Roger Durling stated that he wants the event to be “an all you can eat. Anybody who has any interest in film will find something nourishing and exciting.” Durling then discussed hosting both high profile and low profile creators: “If you want the celebrity aspect of Hollywood and film, we have that as well.” With so many groundbreaking movies that were directed last year, Durling elaborated on why McDonagh and Field were chosen as recipients of the award.
“The fact that they’re nominated for the Oscars, and then they’re also writers and producers. It’s very unique that they both wrote their films, they produced their films, they directed their films and they’re nominated for all of the above,” Durling said.
Durling spoke fondly of the directors and their film style, stating that the two directors “have a very singular style. When you think of Martin McDonagh, you immediately know what his film is going to look like. The same with Todd Field, he has only done three films, but it’s a very specific world.”
Field may not have directed many feature films, but the three that he has worked on left a lasting impression on the film industry. His films include “In the Bedroom” (2001), “Little Children” (2006) and his critically acclaimed film “Tár,” starring Cate Blanchett. Released last year, “Tár” is based around Lydia Tár, a renowned conductor accused of sexual assault. This film garnered awards from the Critics Choice Awards, the British Academy Film Awards and The Gotham Awards, and leading actress Blanchett received a Golden Globe for her performance.
Durling described the directors chosen as people who have “pushed the boundaries in their storytelling.” Field gave advice for those creating work that can be perceived out of the social norms, and he shared advice he received from filmmaker Carl Franklin.
“[I met Carl Franklin] very early and he encouraged me to go to the American Film Institute as a fellow and gave me one piece of advice which was, ‘When you make your first film give everything. Make sure it’s absolutely important to you. Don’t do it because you think it’s gonna impress anyone … sharpen and die in your own sword because it might be the only chance you ever have and there’s no other reason to do this work, it’s really hard.’” Field said.
Field described these words as the “best advice he ever got from anyone.” With numerous Oscar nominations being released for the film, it is expected that “Tár” will leave a lasting impression on the film industry.
The moderator for the night, Executive Editor of Awards at the Hollywood Reporter Scott Feinberg, sat with Field and McDonagh to discuss their previous films and the structure behind their recently nominated films.
With many accolades, McDonagh has a particular directing style that society has had the pleasure of keeping up with. His most recent film “The Banshees of Inisherin,” stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. “The Banshees of Inisherin”, which takes place in Ireland, is an emotional and comedic whirlwind about their recently ended friendship. This film also reunites Farrell and Gleeson who worked together in McDonagh’s 2008 debut film, “In Bruges.”
Feinberg asked McDonagh about his compelling feeling to return back to Ireland for movie settings even though he grew up in London. McDonagh also discussed his last minute name change from “The Banshees of Inisheer” to “The Banshees of Inisherin,” even though Inisherin is not a real island.
McDonagh responded that “the first plays where I felt free as a writer were all Irish … I had the title mentioned ‘Inisheer’ for maybe twenty years, I wanted to round off this trilogy set off each of the Ireland islands. The play I wrote with that title didn’t work, but the lake and pub are on Achill Island and everything else is on Inishmore.” “The Banshees of Inisherin” received multiple awards from the Golden Globes, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the National Society of Film Critics.
After doing separate interviews of the two, Feinberg invited them both to share their perspectives on film, and the opinions they value the most when creating these films. Field referred to his wife Serena Rathbun, stating “I’ve always made my films for one person and she’s very tough.” On a similar note, McDonagh referred to his girlfriend Phoebe Waller-Bridge by stating that lately he had “been sharing my scripts with my girlfriend.” With gratitude and grace covering the Arlington Theatre, Field and McDonagh accepted their Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, leaving attendees inspired by their words and intrigued on what’s to come from the creatives.