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Montecito Student Film Fest Gains Popularity

March 23 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm PDT

The second annual Montecito Student Film Festival has exploded in popularity and gone global. Student filmmakers from 65 countries have submitted more than 500 films for the free event. Attendees can watch films throughout the day, Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. in Westmont’s Porter Theatre.

Westmont junior Tamia Sanders of Pearland, Texas, won the Wendey Eley Jackson Award for Best Documentary for “Before There Was Columbine.”
Tamia Sanders won the 2023 Wendey Eley Jackson Award for Best Documentary (Courtesy)

Festival producer Tamia Sanders ‘24 says last year’s event served as a trial run for organizers to settle in and gain momentum. “We got the opportunity to put something together for the first time at Westmont,” she says. “This year’s growth results from a team of people with a clear vision of what we’re doing and the ambition to get it done.”

Festival Director Wendy Eley Jackson, a catalyst for the film studies minor the college launched in 2019, says filmmaking has always been popular among students, including the global student community that desires to tell stories. “Through the advent of social media and technology, people tell stories every day,” she says. “We’re now providing a platform for them here at the Montecito Student Film Festival to display what they’ve crafted.”

Jackson and her team, including Jonathan Hicks ‘04, festival executive producer, have been reviewing all the films and feel excited about what they’re watching.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s film festival does for students who are honing their skills and crafts and getting introductions to people willing to provide knowledge and experience in an industry they’re venturing into,” Hicks says.

The Director’s Roundtable guest speaker is Michael Swanson, senior vice president of NBC/Peacock Production. The Producer’s Roundtable guest speaker is Cheryl Bayer, president of Living Pop Ups Media, and former head of ABC Network Programming and FOX Programming. The Screenwriters Roundtable guest speaker is Holly Sorensen, showrunner and writer for “Step Up High Water” (Starz Network), “Make it Or Break It” (ABC Network) and “Recovery Road” (ABC Network).

This year judges will present six prizes, including Audience Award, Critics Choice Award, Best Documentary, Best Animation, Best Screenplay and Best International Film.

Other festival staff include co-producer Grace Redford ’26 and programmers Campbell Ralph ‘25, Will Otterson ‘25, Emma Silver ‘25, Jacob Spears ‘26 and Wesley Yowell ‘25.

Montecito Home to Inaugural Student Film Fest


March 23
10:00 am - 5:00 pm PDT
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Westmont College
955 La Paz Rd
Santa Barbara, CA 93108 United States
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+1 805-565-6000
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