Isabelle Huppert and French Cinema Honored at SBIFF

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Denzel Washington, Jeff Bridges, Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, and…. ISABELLE HUPPERT(!) will all be at the 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), happening February 1st-11th.

The last big film festival before the Oscars, SBIFF has a reputation for predicting Academy Award winners in advance. Isabelle Huppert already scored at the Golden Globes, winning Best Actress in a Drama for her role in the French film Elle. On February 8th, Huppert will take home SBIFF’s Montecito Award, which is “given to a person in the entertainment industry who has made a great contribution to film”. If this winning streak continues, Huppert will be a front runner for Best Actress at the Academy Awards on February 26th.

Unlike the Oscars, SBIFF is open to the public. French Cinema lovers can purchase tickets to attend the award ceremony honoring Huppert at the Arlington Theatre. Afterwards, Anne Thompson will moderate a conversation with Huppert. “We discuss her career, her work, her projects, and her ideas about American cinema. It will be an ‘intimate’ conversation with the 2,000 audience members.” A complete events schedule for SBIFF is available here.

Besides Huppert, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival pays homage to French cinema with a heavy showing of new French films. Here is the full list of films in SBIFF by French creators, or set in France:


Directed by Camille Fontaine, Written by Camille Fontaine and Marcia Romano;  (85 min)
Country of Origin: France.

“Amra and Lyès are two young Algerians who have been living in France for five years. Amra has begun the process to legalize her immigration status, whereas Lyès is still an illegal immigrant. One evening, as she searches for her cell phone while driving, Amra runs over a pedestrian. Amra is desperate and doesn’t know what to do when a young woman, Angélique, suddenly appears and clears her of any blame, claiming that the pedestrian threw himself under the car. The two young women become friends. But over time, Angélique’s behavior grows increasingly strange — indeed, rather disturbing.”

All screenings in Metro 4 Theatre 4
Sunday, February 05 – 6:00 pm – 7:25 pm
Monday, February 06 – 9:00 pm – 10:25 pm
Tuesday, February 07 – 12:00 pm – 1:25 pm


Directed by Frédéric Mermoud;  (89 min)
Country of Origin: France/Switzerland

“Equipped with a few items of clothing, a little bit of money, and a weapon, Diane Kramer leaves for Évian. She has a sole obsession: to find the driver of the mocha-colored Mercedes who ran over her son and turned her life upside down. But the path of truth has more bends than it appears. Diane discovers that she must confront another woman in her pursuit, a woman who is both endearing and mysterious.”

Wednesday, February 08 – 8:40 pm – 10:09 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 4)
Friday, February 10 – 2:40 pm – 4:09 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 3)
Saturday, February 11 – 3:00 pm – 4:29 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 3)


Directed by Yariv Mozer; Written by Yariv Mozer (61 min)
Country of Origin: Israel/France

“In the great depths of the Jewish Film Archive, six hours of interview footage was discovered with one of modern history’s greatest leaders — David Ben-Gurion. It is 1968 and he is 82 years old, five years before his death. He lives in his secluded home in the desert, removed from all political discourse, which allows him a hindsight perspective on the Zionist enterprise. Ben-Gurion’s introspective soul-searching is the focus of this film, and his clear voice provides a surprising vision for today’s crucial decisions and the future of Israel.”

Thursday, February 09 – 7:00 pm – 8:01 pm (Fiesta 5 Theatre 1)
Friday, February 10 – 11:00 am – 12:01 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 1)


Directed by Asghar Farhadi; Written by Asghar Farhadi; (125 min)
Country of Origin: Iran/France

“Forced to leave their collapsing house, Ranaa and Emad, an Iranian couple who happen to be performers rehearsing for Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” rent a new apartment from one of their fellow performers. Unaware of the fact that the previous tenant had been a woman of ill repute with many clients, they settle down. In a nasty turn of events, one of the clients pays a visit to the apartment one night while Ranaa is alone at home taking a bath, and the aftermath turns the peaceful life of the couple upside down.”

Both screenings at Metro 4 Theatre 3
Friday, February 03 – 8:20 am – 10:10 am
Thursday, February 02 – 2:40 pm – 4:30 pm


Directed by Claude Barras; Written by Gilles Paris, Céline Sciamma; (66 min)
Country of Origin: Switzerland/France

“When nine-year-old Icare accidentally causes the death of his alcoholic mother, he is accompanied to a group home by kind policeman Raymond. He at first finds it difficult to fit in, and is desperately homesick: the only reminders of his former life are an empty beer can and his mother’s nickname for him, “Courgette.” He soon learns that the other children in the home have endured similarly traumatic circumstances. With the help of the other kids at the centre — and the gentle-hearted Raymond — Courgette begins rebuilding his life, and gradually he comes to find comfort and acceptance in his new home.   — adapted from Toronto International Film Festival, Elizabeth Muskala”

Saturday, February 04 – 8:20 am – 9:26 am (Lobero Theatre)
Friday, February 03 – 2:40 pm – 3:46 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 3)
Thursday, February 02 – 7:00 pm – 8:06 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 3)


Directed by Ralitza Petrova Written by Ralitza Petrova (99 min)
Country of Origin: Bulgaria/Denmark/France

“A young physiotherapist lives in a poor town, where she earns a living by assisting the elderly — and supplements her meagre income by selling her patients’ ID cards on the black market. She’s stuck in a loveless relationship, and her existence seems to mirror that of the town itself: a life cycle deprived of beauty and desire by post-Communist survivalism. As if by providence, a glimmer of hope arrives in her companionship with an elderly patient. – adapted from Toronto International Film Festival, Dimitri Eipides”

Thursday, February 9th – 4:00 pm – 5:39 pm (Fiesta 5 Theatre 1)
Friday, February 10th – 9:00 pm – 10:39 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 4)


Directed by Katell Quillévéré; Written by Katell Quillévéré, Gilles Taurand, Maylis de Kerangal(Novel) (104 min)
Country of Origin: France/Belgium
“Unintended consequence is the theme of this potent, pulsing drama, which draws seemingly unrelated stories together into a narrative about the moment when tragedy meets hope. … The film begins in innocence as a French teenager leaves his girlfriend’s apartment and joins his friends on a trip to a seaside surfing spot. In another town, a woman learns that her heart condition has become more serious. Elsewhere, medical staff at a regional hospital work through the critical daily details of saving lives. These stories are destined to intersect, but not before we are led through a series of intense and carefully balanced scenes in which people are forced to deal with the unexpected.  — adapted from Toronto International Film Festival”

Friday, February 10 – 7:00pm-8:45pm (Lobero Theatre) 


Directed by Maysaloun Hamoud; Written by Maysaloun Hamoud (102 min)
Country of Origin: Israel/France
“Lalia (Mouna Hawa), Salma (Sana Jammelieh), and Nur (Shaden Kanboura) share an apartment in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv. Lalia, a criminal lawyer with a wicked wit, loves to burn off her workday stress in the underground club scene. Salma, slightly more subdued, is a DJ and bartender. Nur is a younger, religious Muslim girl who moves into the apartment in order to study at the university. Nur is both intrigued and intimidated by her two sophisticated roommates. … These three very different women find themselves doing the same balancing act between tradition and modernity, citizenship and culture, fealty and freedom.  — Toronto International Film Festival, Jane Schoettle”

Thursday, February 2nd – 5:40 pm – 7:24 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 3)
Friday, February 3rd – 11:40 am – 1:24 pm (Metro 4 Theatre 3)
Sunday, February 5th – 7:20 pm – 9:04 pm (Fiesta 5 Theatre 2)

Featured image: Stock Photos from Denis Makarenko /Shutterstock

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