Groundbreaking Documentary ‘Transmexico’ Wins Audience Choice Award at Santa Barbara Film Festival

SANTA BARBARA, California – Claudia Sanchez’s documentary, “Transmexico,” garnered the Audience Choice Award at the 39th edition of the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The festival announced the winners in its various categories on Saturday.

“Transmexico” follows the journey of three transgender women who defy societal norms and inspire change against all odds. This powerful documentary resonated with the festival audience, earning the prestigious Audience Choice Award.

Among the other winners at the festival were Sophia Sabella and Pablo Feldman’s “Edge of Everything,” which secured the Spirit Award for Independent Cinema. Nays Baghai’s “Driving Into the Darkness” was honored as the Best Documentary, while Wregas Bhanuteja’s “Andragogy” from Indonesia won the title of Best International Feature Film.

The festival also recognized exceptional short films. “A Man’s Man” was awarded Best Documentary Short Film, “Area Boy” was named Best Live-Action Short Film, and “On the 8th Day” won Best Animated Short Film. These films have now qualified for consideration at the 2025 Oscars.

SBIFF programming director Claudia Puig expressed gratitude towards the jurors for their exceptional selections. She emphasized that the winning films had captivated audiences with their unique storytelling, tackling global themes that ranged from the enchantment of movie palaces in the Atacama Desert to the enigmatic ice caves of Antarctica and the social challenges of cancel culture in Indonesia. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival congratulated all of this year’s jury award winners.

The complete list of winners for 2024 includes Claudia Sanchez’s “Transmexico” for the Audience Choice Award. The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema went to Sophia Sabella and Pablo Feldman’s “Edge of Everything,” while Wregas Bhanuteja’s “Andragogy” clinched the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for Best International Feature Film. Nays Baghai’s “Driving Into the Darkness” received the Best Documentary Award, and Javier Macipe’s “The Blue Star” won the Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema. Anders Walter’s “Before It Ends” was honored with the Best Nordic Film Award.

Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt’s “The Last Daughter” secured two accolades: the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film and the ADL Stand Up Award. Lone Scherfig’s “The Movie Teller” was recognized with the ASC Award for Cinematography.

The Santa Barbara Film Festival showcased a wide range of talent and storytelling, with these award-winning films standing out among the selection.