Arlington Theatre
There will be no crowds lining up outside the Arlington Theatre when this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival opens March 31, but movie buffs can still participate online and in person at two beachside drive-in theaters. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk file photo)

Film lovers, get ready.

In just a few days, the 36th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will kick off with more than 100 films, celebrity tributes featuring the year’s top talent, industry panel discussions, pre-recorded question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers, free community education and outreach programs, plus drive-in theaters.

The festival, which runs from March 31 through April 10, will feature 47 world premieres and 37 U.S. premieres from 45 countries.

(Scroll down to view the SBIFF guide)

The 11-day festival will have an entirely new look due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year will offer a ticketed virtual component that will include the film program as well as free film screenings at two state-of-the-art, beachside drive-in theaters in Santa Barbara.

All tributes will be live virtual events only, and this year will be primarily online with the exception of the social-distanced drive-in theaters for free in-person viewings of the films at Santa Barbara City College, 140 Loma Alta Road in Santa Barbara. RSVPs for each film will open at 8 a.m. the day before each film’s showtime for the drive-in theaters, and the drive-in will offer a planned schedule of films.

This year’s festival awardees include Bill Murray, who will receive the Maltin Modern Master Award; Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim and Zendaya to receive the Virtuosos Award presented by UGG; Carey Mulligan, who will get the Cinema Vanguard Award; Chloé Zhao, David Fincher, Lee Isaac Chung and Thomas Vinterberg, who will receive the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter; Sacha Baron Cohen, who will receive the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award; Delroy Lindo, who will get the American Riviera Award; and Amanda Seyfried, who will receive the Montecito Award.

A handful of talent will receive the Variety Artisans Award, including Alan Baumgarten, Nicolas Becker, Alexandra Byrne, Sean Faden, Graham Burt and Jan Pascale, Mia Neal, Leslie Odom Jr., Sam Ashworth, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as Joshua James Richards.

SBIFF will offer three levels of passes, and will provide a login to SBIFF’s online platform for access to various online offerings, pending the level of pass, according to SBIFF’s website. Click here to purchase tickets online.

In addition, people can purchase individual tickets for screenings of films, tributes or panels.

“Once you go to the link and input the ticket code, you will have access to that film or event,” the SBIFF website says. “You will have 48 hours to watch the film from that point. For events, they are at a set date and time.”

Click here to purchase tickets for films and events.

An app on Apple TV and Roku will allow people to view SBIFF’s events, including tributes, panels, Q&As and films, and these also can be accessed with any web browser by visiting

“Our live events (tributes and panels) can be watched anywhere in the world, as well as some of our films,” according to SBIFF.

The festival’s opening night film is director Aaron Maurer’s world premiere of Invisible Valley. The film will be available to view online and at the drive-in theaters in Santa Barbara.

The film “weaves together the seemingly disparate stories of undocumented farmworkers, wealthy snowbirds and music festival-goers over the course of a year in California’s Coachella Valley,” SBIFF organizers said.

“The intimate, on-the-ground profiles drive home the incongruity of the lifestyles that coexist in an affluent community. In exploring the history of the region as well as its future, the film uncovers an undercurrent of a looming ecological crisis threatening it all.”

The closing night film will highlight a series of short documentaries by local filmmakers.

The lineup of films will cover a variety of iconic places and people in the Santa Barbara area, including the Chumash’s annual trip to their historical village site, a woman’s journey to restore ecosystems with her flock of sheep, a local musician who received care and support from Hospice of Santa Barbara, the story of a community surviving 2020 through outdoor dancing, an artist who specializes in miniature diorama art, and a celebrated local roller-skating icon who sparked the community group SB Rollers.

New this year is an online chat room for everything SBIFF.

SBIFF organizers said people can visit and share their thoughts with other attendees. A unique login will need to be created at — separate from your login that you create to view the films.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.