Your Guide to the

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

In true new year’s fashion, Santa Barbara kicks off the 2020 award season with a glamorous, star-studded performance. From January 15 to 25, 2020, the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) gathers film lovers from all over the world to enjoy special panels, award ceremonies and 200+ films at some of the city’s most historic theaters.

Founded in 1986, SBIFF has grown to become one of the leading film festivals in the U.S. Last year the event attracted an astonishing 92,000 attendees, with visitors ranging from A-list celebrities to film loving locals and tourists. As Hollywood’s elite flocks to Santa Barbara for 11 special days, Santa Barbara herself takes center stage, offering award winners and attendees a picture-perfect getaway. To help you celebrate this year’s standout film stars, while savoring all Santa Barbara has to offer, we’ve put together an event-by-event guide to help you make the most of your time in The American Riviera®.

Book Your Stay

Festival Passes

Consider yourself a cinephile? Treat yourself to the full festival experience with one of the full coverage Festival Passes. Covering your entrance for the entirety of the festival, Festival Passes range in access depending on the type of events you’re interested in. Choose from four different passes ranging from $350-$5,000: State Street Pass, Cinema Pass, Platinum Pass and Concierge Pass.

If you’re more of a film-fan and not looking for a full access pass or priority admission, you can buy an individually selected package of tickets to the type of event you are most interested in. Choose from three different passes ranging from $325-$675: Intro Package, Film Geek Package and Tribute Package.

Just interested in attending a specific event? Choose from Individual tickets, MiniPaks, (A 10-screening pack in the form of a punch card), or a Rush Ticket (wait in the rush ticket line to see if there are any remaining seats).

For budgets that are tight after the Holidays, don’t fret! As a ‘thank you’ to the community, SBIFF offers a handful of free community events: Free film screenings, Super Silent Sunday and AppleBox.

Not-to-be-Missed Events

From film geek to newbie, SBIFF is eleven full days dedicated to the best in cinema. No matter if you are a dedicated film lover who has already bought passes, or if you find yourself in town during these eventful days, here are some festival highlights that are not-to-be-missed.


Opening Night Film

In its U.S. Premire, “A Bump Along The Way” will be the Opening Night Film at the 2020 Santa Barbara Film Festival. A female-led, feel-good comedy drama set in Derry, Northern Ireland, about a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life.

American Riviera Award

Santa Barbara has long been described as The American Riviera®. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival proudly places this name on their award for outstanding achievement in American film. This year’s award goes to Renée Zellweger. Learn More

Virtuosos Award presented by UGG®

The Virtuosos Award presented by UGG ® is given to up-and-coming actors. This year, SBIFF will be honoring Awkwafina (The Farewell), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Aldis Hodge (Clemency), George MacKay (1917), Florence Pugh (Little Women, Midsommar), and Taylor Russell (Waves). This award will be moderated for the tenth year by Turner Classic Movies host and IMDb special correspondent host Dave Karger. Learn More

Maltin Modern Master Award

Brad Pitt is set to receive the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award for his long-standing contributions to the film industry, most recently gracing the silver screen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood from Columbia Pictures and Ad Astra for New Regency. Leonard Maltin will return for his 29th year to moderate the evening. Learn More

Outstanding Director of the Year Award

The recipients of this award are the year’s top directors who have pushed the boundaries in their storytelling and created films that showcase the art of filmmaking at its best. Honorees to be awarded are TBD. Learn More

Names of award winners and panel attendees are updated as they’re announced. Please check back later for more information.