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Santa Barbara Film Festival Announces 2017 Award Winners

Variety logo Variety 2/11/2017 Sarah Ahern
© Provided by Variety

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced the winners of the 32nd fest on Saturday.

Eleven awards were doled out at the annual breakfast, all leading up to the audience prize, which went to “My Hero Brother.” Director Yonatan Nir’s touching movie follows a group of young people with Down syndrome who embark with their siblings on a trip through the Himalayas. The film also received the best documentary award.

Three awards were handed out for short films. Cameron Fay’s “It’s Been Like a Year” nabbed the Bruce Corwin Award for live action short film, while “Confino,” directed by Nico Bonomolo, received the same prize for animated short film. Documentary short film went to two films with nearly identical titles: “Refugee,” a portrait of a West African woman who leaves her children to come to the U.S. in pursuit of the American Dream, directed by Joyce Chen and Emily Moore; and “Refuge,” directed by Matthew K. Firpo, about the European refugee crisis .

The nueva vision award for Spanish/Latin American cinema was given to Martin Tuta’s “Tamara,” chosen by jury members for its bold stance on transitioning genders.

Paul Shoulberg’s “The Good Catholic” won the Panavision spirit award for independent cinema. “Every once in a while you get the privilege to watch a film that pulls you in emotionally from the opening moment, ‘The Good Catholic’ is that movie,” jury members Joanna Kerns and Richard Harris said of the film.

The social justice award for documentary film went to “Angry Inuk,” directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. Jury members said they chose the film for its deep dive into the central role of seal hunting on the lives of the Inuit. “The Constitution” received the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for international film. It’s an ambitious look at neighbors in a building who avoid each other because of their differences in assets, sexual habits, nationality, and religion.

The ADL Stand Up Award went to Wiktor Ericsson’s “Strawberry Days” — an exploration of the exploitation of foreign workers. The award recognizes the impact that storytelling can have in fostering mutual understanding.

The Valhalla Award for best Nordic film was handed out to “Sami Blood,” directed by Amanda Kernell.

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