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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 10:08 pm | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Gives Its Education Programs the Star Treatment

Outreach efforts, including Mike's Field Trip to the Movies, Film Camp and more, put the focus on serving Santa Barbara County children, families and seniors

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Applebox program provides free family-oriented screenings for viewers of all ages on weekend mornings during the festival, running Feb. 1-11 this year. The outings also feature free popcorn and other refreshments. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Applebox program provides free family-oriented screenings for viewers of all ages on weekend mornings during the festival, running Feb. 1-11 this year. The outings also feature free popcorn and other refreshments. (Santa Barbara International Film Festival photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: Second in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first article.]

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is not just a high-quality festival with films featuring high-profile celebrities. The organization also conducts extensive educational outreach with schools and youth organizations in Santa Barbara.

“Our education programs serve 20,000 children, families and seniors each year mdash; many from vulnerable and underserved populations,” said Roger Durling, SBIFF executive director.

All of SBIFF’s education programs are offered at no cost, helping to develop competency in analyzing and appreciating visual media.

The programs run the gamut from a youth-oriented film camp with the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County to new efforts to get seniors involved from nearby retirement centers — all providing a full range of benefits to the community.

AppleBox and Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies are programs offered during the annual SBIFF, coming up Feb. 1-11.

And, with its new Riviera Theatre location, SBIFF expects to serve thousands more through all of the organization’s efforts. Cinema Society, The Showcase and The Wave Film Festival are all also based at the Riviera, 2044 Alameda Padre Serra.

“We have an amazing strategic plan that focuses on various communities — the underserved K-12 population, adult learners, high-schoolers, teachers and the elderly,” board president Lynda Weinman told Noozhawk.

“We cannot wait to have a full-time venue to share the stories that films can only tell. It’s such a great moment in our history, and I am honored and privileged to be in a leadership role with the amazing staff and dedicated board of SBIFF.”

Upon completion, the Riviera Theatre Project will offer year-round screenings for festival audiences as well as an expansion of the SBIFF education programs that foster academic and cultural enrichment opportunities to thousands of students throughout Santa Barbara County.

“Acquiring the Riviera Theatre is the next natural step in SBIFF’s evolution as it crystallizes the expansion of all of our different programs,” Durling said.

The long-standing Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies program was developed 12 years ago by the late Mike deGruy, who with his wife, Mimi, produced numerous hours of award-winning television and documentary work for the National Geographic Channel, British Broadcasting Corp. and other broadcasters from their home base in Santa Barbara.

Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, an SBIFF program, is designed to inspire in younger students a love of film.
Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, an SBIFF program, is designed to inspire in younger students a love of film. (Santa Barbara International Film Festival photo)

Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies started as a panel with natural history filmmakers discussing their craft, including directors, producers, sound recordists and composers.

As the audiences grew, “the event morphed into a group of younger students to whom they would show a film and the director would then do a Q&A following the film,” Mimi deGruy said. “That then grew into the several-thousand-student audience that now fills the audience for Field Trip.”

Before deGruy’s death in 2012, the couple also were enthusiastic supporters of nonprofit organizations supporting children’s education about environmental change. Mimi deGruy continues to honor this legacy with a new film, Diving Deep, and a wholehearted belief in community and its ability to effect change.

“Those who knew and loved Mike know that he would be celebrating and championing what now exists as Field Trip,” she said. “He loved kids and their unbridled curiosity, excitement and enthusiasm. Funny, those are words I use to describe Mike, who was, I guess, just a big kid at heart.”

The success of the program recognizes his impact in the community and is an ongoing reminder of special memories.

“I loved watching Mike up there on the stage, energized by the students’ excitement and curiosity — he fed off that,” Mimi deGruy said. “And I really enjoyed talking with him about different ways of engaging students of all ages in understanding the ocean.”

SBIFF’s newest program, Programs for Seniors, was created to provide transit-dependent seniors with entertainment and socialization.

At Film Camp, one of SBIFF’s programs launched in 2016, young attendees spend a week developing their filmmaking skills at the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County’s Camp Whittier.
At Film Camp, one of SBIFF’s programs launched in 2016, young attendees spend a week developing their filmmaking skills at the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County’s Camp Whittier. (Santa Barbara International Film Festival photo)

In partnership with Easy Lift Transportation and a generous grant from the Mosher Foundation, Easy Lift provides the transportation to the Riviera Theatre, and SBIFF provides a fun and safe movie-going experience complete with popcorn and refreshments — all at no cost to the seniors.

Two more programs launched in 2016 are the Rosebud Program and Film Camp.

Rosebud was made possible by a grant from the Towbes Fund for the Performing Arts to benefit students enrolled in any Santa Barbara County university or college. The program provides participants with access to a membership-only film society, the Cinema Society, and currently offers 10 students the opportunity for networking and mentorship with the film community to inspire creativity and critical thinking.

Film Camp is a partnership with the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County created with the desire to support underserved children and teach them filmmaking skills at Camp Whittier, a one-week overnight camp in the mountains above Santa Barbara.

“The skills learned at the camp translate to better self-esteem and self-expression, providing for greater future job readiness,” Durling explained.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a nonprofit and educational organization dedicated to showcasing the best in independent and international cinema, and it is favored as one of the leading film festivals in the United States, attracting more than 90,000 attendees annually.

“Film has the unique ability to both entertain and educate,” Durling said. “The visual component of cinema allows individuals to connect with complicated subject matters that they may not otherwise be able to grasp — making it the most influential medium to make a difference and inspire change.”

The ever-popular festival spans 11 days with more than 200 films, symposiums and panels for producers, women, directors and writers.

An impressive set of eagerly anticipated tributes and awards will be hosted again at the Arlington Theatre with another year of inspiring and legendary names, starting with Denzel Washington on Feb. 2 receiving the Maltin Modern Master Award, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling honored Feb. 3 with the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award, Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams on Feb. 5 receiving the Cinema Vanguard Award, Isabelle Huppert honored Feb. 8 with the Montecito Award, and Jeff Bridges on Feb. 9 receiving the American Riviera Award.

Click here for more information about SBIFF and its educational programs, or call 805.963.0023. Click here to make an online donation.

— Noozhawk contributing writer Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

The late Mike deGruy, front, founder of Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, with students from Santa Barbara Middle School in front of the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. “He loved kids and their unbridled curiosity, excitement and enthusiasm,” his widow, Mimi deGruy, says of the filmmaker who died in 2012. “Funny, those are words I use to describe Mike, who was, I guess, just a big kid at heart.” Click to view larger
The late Mike deGruy, front, founder of Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, with students from Santa Barbara Middle School in front of the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. “He loved kids and their unbridled curiosity, excitement and enthusiasm,” his widow, Mimi deGruy, says of the filmmaker who died in 2012. “Funny, those are words I use to describe Mike, who was, I guess, just a big kid at heart.” (deGruy family photo)

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