On March 25, the official Santa Barbara International Film Festival Instagram page announced a new film series in collaboration with KCSB titled “After Hours,” With various genres and cult films playing every Friday and Saturday night until the end of July.  

Ted Coe, faculty advisor for KCSB, described the collaboration as something he immediately became interested in once he found out that the series was in the works. He reached out to Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Executive Director Roger Durling and Managing Director Sean Pratt, who, as a trio, came up with a way to have KCSB involved in the advertisement. 

“We’re going to help announce it on a weekly basis and help get the word out around campus with posters, that sort of thing. [The sponsorship] was a great opportunity — it had been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Coe said.  

KCSB has had a long history of film-centered collaborations. In March, KCSB sponsored an event held by the Carsey-Wolf Center titled “Revisiting the Classics: Nowhere.” Additionally, in 2022, KCSB collaborated with the MultiCultural Center to screen “Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché,” amongst other events. Coe says that we can expect more KCSB-related events in the future. 

Durling sees the sponsorship from KCSB as a great opportunity to spread the word about this event to a younger audience.

“I think it’s a perfect partnership with [KCSB] to bring a younger crowd to the theater, to introduce the younger crowd to films that they may not have seen,” Durling said

“After Hours” (in its own way) replicates the tradition of midnight movies. However, instead of film screenings starting at midnight, films will screen at 9 p.m. As Coe humorously commented, “Late night in Santa Barbara is nine o’clock,” 

From an array of films being shown, such as David Lynch’s “Dune” to Stephan Elliott’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” “After Hours” aims to show a diverse array of films to the Santa Barbara community. The film schedule was meticulously crafted by Durling to show timeless films that are reflective of the period in which they were released but also simultaneously mirror issues in contemporary times. Durling states each film was intentionally chosen for “a little bit of an educational component,” reflective of his educational career. 

“After Hours” highlights an underappreciated aspect of film: the ability to impart knowledge upon an audience. The stories and themes that many movies have at their core are sometimes underappreciated due to film being seen as media. This is especially prevalent in today’s movie climate, where most things in theaters are remakes or part of a franchise. Most films curated for this late-night series offer something insightful in their screenings, whether it’s anti-war, critiques of capitalism or just insight into another culture. These movies offer a look at other perspectives one may not have considered before. 

This educational element was highlighted in April 19-20 screenings of “The Abyss,” directed by James Cameron. Following an oil platform team working with a military search and recovery team to search for survivors after a U.S. submarine sinking, the film has its fair share of late-80s flare, mixed with themes of environmentalism and anti-war. Despite the movie nearing its 35th birthday, “The Abyss” eerily reflects fears in current society. 

“The Abyss” offers something for any moviegoer: aliens, nuclear tensions, natural disasters, romance and melodrama. The beauty of a genre-spanning film is its ability to attract such a large demographic to the theater, from the nostalgic re-watcher to the analytic film student. 

At its core, “After Hours” aims to offer a place where the community can come together and celebrate these charming films. Durling labels movies as “the universal language due to their unifying nature.

“It’s a language that we all have knowledge of, and then we’re able to converse with one another.”

Despite watching movies in the theater being a communal event, the different points of view and conversations that can be elicited are the true connection that films offer. Being able to grow in each other’s opinions, each person takes away something unique from the watch.The conversations that come with that is one of the most enriching parts of seeing a film on the big screen. 

“In a group or at a film festival, all of a sudden you have a perfect communion. You listen to other people’s reactions, you have conversations and dialogues about it … that’s where film’s power lies. It’s not so much when it’s unspooling in front of you — it’s when it ends and you have a dialogue with everybody,” Durling said. 

From his personal experience growing up queer in Panama, Durling has always appreciated the cohesive force behind the film. 

“Whatever issues separate you from other people inside of the movie theater, all of that’s gone, dissipates, and you’re all equal, and that’s what I’ve always loved about movies.”

The audience of a theater is simply unique in the way where a plethora of people can come together and come together to focus on something that is not each other; they look upon the screen and are transported into a realm beyond our own world. For some, they watch the screen as a story similar to their own unfolds. For others, they are given insight into experiences beyond their own, giving them a new perspective through a cinematic lens. 

SBIFF Riviera Theatre’s “After Hours” series is a great opportunity to experience the raw power of film. In an age where it seems people are the most divided, cinema is needed now more than ever. Its ability to bridge the gap between others and spark conversation is unlike any art form. “After Hours” invites viewers to indulge in a rich movie collection, both from the past and contemporary times that reflect on the diverse human experience.