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Santa Barbara Film Festival to build drive-in theaters for distanced screenings

By   /   Tuesday, February 16th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Santa Barbara Film Festival to build drive-in theaters for distanced screenings

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A Santa Barbara International Film Festival screening at the Arlington Theatre in 2016. This year’s festival will go on without such crowds. (file photo)

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival plans to create two beachside drive-in theaters so that the public can attend film screenings in a socially distanced environment, event organizers announced Feb. 16.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will be hosted online and in person from March 31 through April 10, and will include more than 80 drive-in screenings at Santa Barbara City College. All of the screenings will be free, though RSVPs will be required.

The pivot to drive-in theaters is to provide patrons with the annual festival they have come to expect every year, but “in the safest way possible,” Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director, said in a news release.

“A virtual component was a given but experiencing movies in socially distanced cars and being by the ocean felt oh so perfectly Santa Barbara, California,” Durling said.

Along with the in-person, socially distanced and outdoor experience, the film festival will offer an online component, including online film screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels and celebrity tributes. 

Celebrities that will be participating in the festivities this year include Bill Murray, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Zendaya and Delroy Lindo. 

The film lineup and schedule will be announced in early March. SBIFF programmers received “a record number of film submissions this year,” the festival’s news release said, and have assembled a diverse lineup of over 100 films, many of them world or U.S. premiers.

“We have poured all of our creativity into this plan and are very proud of the shape it is taking,” Durling said. “SBIFF 2021 will be completely unique and marked by the excellence SBIFF is known for.”

Passes for the 2021 Festival are now on sale as well as the tickets for the celebrity tributes.  

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