Going to the movies is an escape from reality and lets the mind wander, but the beauty of film festivals is that the movies come to life. It is incredible to see and meet the actors, learn why the screenplay was written and hear from those behind the scenes describe their experiences. Photographing for the Santa Barbara Film Festival is truly a highlight of the year. The festival consistently draws the best stars from the year and I had the pleasure of photographing 7 Oscar winners throughout the festival (Casey Affleck, Mahershala Ali, Emma Stone, Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan, Byron Howard, and Barry Jenkins):
A definite highlight of the event was the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award honoring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, stars of La La Land. It was really fun to see how witty and hilarious Emma Stone is! And that opening scene of La La Land with dancing on the cars on a freeway in Los Angeles was incredible!
Another actor with a huge year was Denzel Washington (Fences). Honored with the Modern Master Award at the festival, he was very well-spoken and seemed to really enjoy the experience. I appreciated when he was talking about his awards he keeps at his house… They are next to the college degrees of his children and he said: “There’s life and there’s making a living…when I began, I thought acting was life… ” Another favorite quote he said was: “To give is the most selfish thing you can do.”
The film Manchester By The Sea was a huge success and the festival honored actors Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck with the Cinema Vanguard Award. They seemed to have a wonderful connection between each other:
The Virtuosos Award honors breakthrough performances from the year and the 2017 winners from the SBIFF were Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animals), Dev Patel (Lion), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Ruth Negga (Loving), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins) and Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences). My favorite quote of the night came from Henderson, who said, when he acts he’s “trying to get it TRUE, not ‘right’. Getting it right is a judgement in your head or someone else’s.”
It was hard picking images for a blog post. There were so many highlights and so many recognizable faces! Here are a few more to share, Isabelle Huppert, Bill Nighy, Kevin Costner (who was supporting his daughter Annie from Sound Off Films), David Crosby, Jeff Bridges and Maria Bello:
There were a few more incredible moments that I would like to share to wrap up this post… The festival opened with a movie called, Charged. It’s the story of the incredible Chef Eduardo Garcia, who was very badly electrocuted and nearly died while on his own in the Montana wilderness. I loved meeting Chef Garcia and love his mission of sharing positivity and becoming a better person after tragedy. The next photo shows a classmate from college (Emily) and her business partner Joyce who’s documentary, Refugee won an award for the Best Short Documentary. The next image is of Paula Vesala, a very famous singer in Finland and is pursuing acting. Lastly, a fun moment when Byron Howard took a cell phone selfie in front of 2,200 school kids who had just seen his film, Zootopia: