By Lauren Bray
Three films featured in the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) are centered around local happenings including a beloved pub, small town history, and a short film from UC Santa Barbara alumni.
Here’s a recap of them:
Locals Only – The BIG Little Pub
This film tells the story of The Press Room, a British Cocktail pub in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. It may only be 850 square feet, but it has the heart and soul of a big pub. The home for local football (soccer) fans the pub is more than just a quaint watering hole. Over the past 25 years, it has become a home away from home for people from all walks of life thanks to its owner, James Rafferty, and his family. Abruptly faced with demolition to make way for luxury housing, its regulars and the wider community rally to its side to save it.
“In England ‘pub life’ is a thing and an important thing at that. It’s one of the things I miss most living in the U.S. A place like Cheers, where everyone knows your name, a place you can walk into, see a friendly face, have a chat about anything, and know you’re in a safe and loving environment. A place we call a ‘local’. It may be small but this ‘local’ occupies a big piece of many people’s hearts including my own. Add football into the mix and I knew I had to make a film about this special place especially as it faces an uncertain future,” said the film’s writer and director Gareth Kelly.
This is Kelly’s second film at SBIFF in as many years following up on the critically acclaimed short documentary film Fresh to Frightening – The Sharon Green Story. Kelly also produced the narrative short film, The Golden Cage also having its world premiere at this year’s festival.
The world premiere screening will take place on Tuesday, February 14th at 7.40 pm at the Fiesta 5 Theater with an additional screening on Wednesday, February 15th at 5.40 pm at the Metro 4 Theater in Santa Barbara as part of the Santa Barbara Shorts – Community, Arts & Connection shorts block. Both screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Kelly and producer Travis Vassallo.
Building on the success of last years Bowline Films, People’s Premiere Festival Party both Local’s Only and The Golden Cage will have an additional screening as part of their own People’s Premiere and festival afterparty on Saturday, February 18th at The Press Room, 15 E. Ortega St, Santa Barbara at 7.30 pm. All are welcome.
Voces de Old Town Carpinteria
Mexican community in Carpinteria featured in Voces de Old Town Carpinteria (courtesy image)
Brent Winebrenner directed Voces de Old Town Carpinteria, a documentary about the historic Mexican-American community in Carpinteria. It’s a little-known fact that Carpinteria’s Aliso School was one of the last segregated schools in California. The film follows local historian Jim Campos along with the collective memories of a handful of resilient Mexican American children who went to Aliso before integration in 1947. Theirs is a story of perseverance and determination in the face of injustice and discrimination.
It features Salvador Campos, Tomás Castelo, Lorenzo Martinez, Benito Villegas and Josephine Villegas. Producer Leslie Westbrook assisted with the film along with Assistant Producer Suzanne Requejo, Latino Art Project Historian Dr. Jim Campos and Artist Larry Vigon.
The film will be screened as part of the Santa Barbara Shorts 1 – “Turning Trauma into Resiliency.” Screening times are Thursday February 16th, at 7:40PM at the Fiesta Five Theatre Auditorium #4 and on Saturday February 18th at the Metro 4 Theatre Auditorium #3.
The Golden Cage
Inspired by the challenges faced by immigrants living in the United States and the harsh realities of being separated from their families across the US-Mexico border, The Golden Cage, written and directed by former UCSB students Francisco Lopez and Mitchka Saberi, tells the story of a mother and son who travel towards opposite sides of the border wall to reunite after decades apart.
“There are many ways to make a political statement fighting back against the injustices of a system that puts a wall between two countries, separating thousands of people from their loved ones and families. But for us, the best way to communicate the true effect of these larger societal circumstances is to boil it down to something far more simple, relatable, and interpersonal: a relationship between one mother and son,” Mitchka Saberi, Co-Writer/Director.
Shot on location at the Salton Sea in Imperial County, in Nueva Italia, Michoacan in Mexico, and on the Mexico side of the border wall, the short film is a quietly emotional story that many immigrant families will relate to.
“When we think about the border, many of us automatically think of the stories of those trying to get to the United States from Mexico. We much less often think about how this country is a sort of cage for the people already inside, barring them from ever leaving to see their families. We hope that this film will show another more intimate side of the stories surrounding immigration and the border,” said Francisco Lopez, Co-Writer/Director
The world premiere screening will take place on Thursday, February 16th at 7:40pm at the Fiesta 5 Theatre with an additional screening on Saturday, February 18th at 11:40am at the Metro 4 Theatre in Santa Barbara as part of the Santa Barbara Shorts – Turning Trauma into Resiliency shorts block. Both screenings will be followed by a Q&A with co-writers and directors Francisco Lopez and Mitchka Saberi and Producer Gareth Kelly. Additionally, Co-Director Mitchka Saberi will be appearing in a free and open to the public filmmaker seminar at the festival, The Long and Short of Short Filmmaking, taking place on Friday, February 17th at 11:00am at the Tamsen Gallery.
The 38th Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs through February 18. Official events including screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout the city, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. Passes and tickets are on sale now at.