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2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival award winners
Winners of the Audience Choice Award for ‘26.2 To Life’ Carolyn Mao, Christine Yoo, and Sara Jane Sluke at Santa Barbara International Film Festival. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

26.2 To Life directed by Christine Yoo won the Audience Choice Award at 38th Santa Barbara International Film Festival which took place February 8 – February 18, 2023.

Other top awards including Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema went to I Like Movies directed by Chandler Levack; Best International Feature Film went to A Man (Aru Otoko) directed by Kei Ishikawa; and Best Documentary Award went to A Bunch of Amateurs directed by Kim Hopkins.

The Moisture (Rutubet) directed by Turan Haste won the Award – Best Live-Action Short Film and Epicenter (소문의 진원지) directed by Heeyoon Hahm won the Award – Best Animated Short Film making both films now eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards.

“This 38th edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival drew filmmakers from as far as Turkey, India, Israel, and Sierra Leone, half of whom were women. We were delighted with the enthusiastic reception to our diverse program of 200 films from 43 countries. Cinema is one of the most powerful vehicles for empathy, providing a window of understanding to all who seek to look through it. We thank the filmmakers in attendance and our avid Santa Barbara audience for so heartily embracing the festival experience. Several films prompted standing ovations and packed theaters, marking 2023 a full-throttled return to celebrating cinema from around the globe” commented SBIFF’s Programming Director Claudia Puig.

Complete list of winners of 2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Audience Choice Award
Independent: 26.2 TO LIFE Directed by Christine Yoo

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema:
I LIKE MOVIES Directed by Chandler Levack

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film
A MAN (ARU OTOKO) Directed by Kei Ishikawa

Best Documentary Award
A BUNCH OF AMATEURS Directed by Kim Hopkins

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema
MANUELA Directed by Clara Cullen

Best Middle Eastern/Israeli Film Award
THE TASTE OF APPLES IS RED (TA’AM AL TUFAH, AHMAR) Directed by Ehab Tarabieh

Best Nordic Film Award
SUMMERLIGHT AND THEN COMES THE NIGHT (SUMARLJÓS OG SVO KEMUR NÓTTIN) Directed by Elfar Aðalsteins

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film
BLACK MAMBAS Directed by Lena Karbe

ADL Stand Up Award, sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, the Skinner Social Impact Fund, and Steve & Cindy Lyons
THE QUIET GIRL (AN CAILÍN CIÚIN) Directed by Colm Bairéad

Best Documentary Short Film Award
NOWHERE TO GO BUT EVERYWHERE (行き止まりのむこう側) Directed by Masako Tsumura, Erik Shirai

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film
THE MOISTURE (RUTUBET) Directed by Turan Haste
*Now eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film
EPICENTER (소문의 진원지) Directed by Heeyoon Hahm
*Now eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards

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