‘Madu’ to Open Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The complete program for the 39th Santa Barbara International Film Festival has been announced.

Taking place from Feb. 7-17, the festival will open with the world premiere of the documentary “Madu,” directed by Matt Ogens and Joel ‘Kachi Benson. The film follows a 12-year-old Nigerian boy named Anthony Madu who moves to England to study ballet at a prestigious dance school. SBIFF will close with Heather Graham’s “Chosen Family,” starring Graham, Julia Stiles, Thomas Lennon and Michael Gross. Graham’s feature tracks a yoga teacher named Ann who “is trying to find inner peace despite having a manic family, a miserable dating life, and an inability to say no that keeps her busy trying to fix everyone else’s problems.”

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The festival also features a myriad of tributes throughout the week. Bradley Cooper will receive the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. Robert Downey, Jr. will receive the Maltin Modern Master Award presented by Manitou Fund. Recipients of the Virtuoso Awards include Danielle Brooks (“The Color Purple”), Colman Domingo (“The Color Purple” and “Rustin”), America Ferrera (“Barbie”), Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Greta Lee (“Past Lives”), Charles Melton (“May December”), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”) and Andrew Scott (“All of Us Strangers”).

Furthermore, Mark Ruffalo will receive the American Riviera Award and Jeffrey Wright will be honored with the Montecito Award. The honorees have yet to be announced for the Variety Artisans Award sponsored by Variety, the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award and the Cinema Vanguard Award.

In addition to 19 world feature premieres, 56 U.S. feature premieres, and other screenings, the festival will include various panels and educational programs.

“We have a wonderfully eclectic program this year from 48 countries around the world,” said Claudia Puig, programming director of SBIFF.

Puig continued, “We are especially proud that half of our slate of films are directed by women, and a large percentage by under-represented filmmakers. We know there will be something for everyone at our festival — and likely quite a lot for most. Nearly three-quarters of the films we’re showcasing have never been seen before in the US. We’re excited to introduce these films to audiences and thrilled that filmmakers from nearly every continent will be on hand to meet those attending SBIFF, and share in the communal love of film.”

Visit here for the complete SBIFF lineup.

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