SBIFF Celebrates Global Talent: Award-Winning Films Spanning the Globe Unveiled at 39th Edition

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) concluded its 39th edition with the announcement of the award-winning films. The awards ceremony took place at the El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, in Santa Barbara, where the jury, filmmakers, and industry professionals gathered.

SBIFF’s Programming Director Claudia Puig expressed gratitude to the jury for their meticulous selections. The winning films showcased diverse stories from around the world, including the mesmerizing magic of movie palaces in the Atacama Desert, the enchanting mysteries of ice caves in Antarctica, and the thought-provoking exploration of cancel culture in Indonesia. Puig commended the filmmakers for their captivating narratives and originality, and congratulated the winners on behalf of SBIFF.

The winning films were carefully chosen by a panel of notable individuals, including Lesley Chilcott, Alex Keledjian, Chris Landon, Lael Loewenstein, Jacqueline Lyanga, David Magdael, Gail Mancuso, Greg Nava, Pituka Ortega Heilbron, Carla Renata, Gil Robertson, Ondi Timoner, Clay Tweel, and Ali Wolfe.

Among the winners was Claudia Sanchez, who received the Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent for her film “TRANSMEXICO.” Other notable winners include Sophia Sabella and Pablo Feldman, who received the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema for their film “EDGE OF EVERYTHING.” The award comes with a prize of a $60,000 camera rental package from Panavision.

Wregas Bhanuteja’s film “ANDRAGOGY” was recognized with the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for Best International Feature Film. Nays Baghai’s documentary “DIVING INTO THE DARKNESS” received the Best Documentary Award, while Javier Macipe’s “THE BLUE STAR” (La estrella azul) was honored with the Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema. Anders Walter’s “BEFORE IT ENDS” (Når befrielsen kommer) took home the Best Nordic Film Award.

The Social Justice Award for Documentary Film went to Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt for their film “THE LAST DAUGHTER.” Lone Scherfig’s “THE MOVIE TELLER” received the ASC Award for Cinematography sponsored by The American Society of Cinematographers. The ADL Stand Up Award, sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, was awarded to “THE LAST DAUGHTER,” directed by Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt.

Several short films were also recognized. Myles Desenberg’s “A MAN’S MAN” received the Best Documentary Short Film Award and became eligible for the 2025 Academy Awards. Iggy London’s “AREA BOY” was honored with the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live-Action Short Film, and Agathe Sénéchal, Alicia Massez, Elise Debruyne, Flavie Carin, and Théo Duhautois won the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film for their work on “ON THE 8TH DAY.” These short films have now become eligible for the 2025 Academy Awards.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization, has been dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema for the past 39 years. With its mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film, the festival has become one of the leading film events in the United States. Offering screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, tributes, and symposiums, SBIFF attracts 100,000 attendees and continues to make a positive impact on education and the local community. SBIFF’s state-of-the-art year-round home, the Riviera Theatre, and its Education Center on State Street are testament to its commitment to fostering creativity and learning.