Now in its 36th year, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization with a mission to engage, enrich and inspire people through film.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is an eleven day event held in the seaside city of Santa Barbara, California (90 minutes north of Los Angeles). SBIFF is proud to present a diverse slate of more than 200 films to over 90,000 film enthusiasts. Our audience is a unique combination of film industry professionals, local, regional and International attendees, and a large student population.

SBIFF has devoted sections for documentaries that address social justice issues, nature and oceanography, food and wine, and the performing arts. Additional sidebars highlight contemporary world cinema from Nordic countries, Israel, Eastern Europe, Asia and Spain/Latin America.

In addition to showcasing a diverse spectrum of films, tributes and galas. SBIFF also offers seminars with industry professionals including Directors, Writers, Producers and Women in the Business Panels, as well as Q&A sessions with a diverse selection of filmmakers.

SBIFF has established itself as one of the premiere international film festivals and we look forward to building on that success in 2021 and creating opportunities for participants to network with some of the world's leading independent distributors and filmmakers. In addition to expanding our slate each year to highlight emerging genres, styles and regions, SBIFF is growing our free children's educational and community outreach programs which cumulatively serve over 18,000 students and families. Please visit our website for more information on these and other SBIFF programs at

All categories juried by industry professionals. Awards and prizes are subject to change

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema
Prize: camera package worth approximately $60,000
Award for Best Independent Film

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award for International Cinema
Award for Best International Film

Nueva Vision Award
For the best Spanish-language film

Best Documentary Award
For the best documentary feature

Valhalla Award
For the best Nordic feature

The Social Justice Award
For a documentary feature film that addresses social justice issues

Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film
Winning film will be eligible for Academy Award nomination.

Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film
Winning film will be eligible for Academy Award nomination.

Best Documentary Short Film

Audience Choice Award


-Submission fee is non-refundable.

-We prioritize US and World Premieres.

-Films that have been publicly broadcast in the United States and/or films that are publicly streaming online prior to the 2021 film festival are not eligible.

-Finished projects must be completed no earlier than November 2019 to be eligible for the 2021 film festival.

-Films that have received national U.S. network television (including cable) or theatrical release prior to Festival are not eligible.

-No music videos or commercials.

-More than one entry may be submitted. Each entry must be accompanied by its own online entry and entry fee.

-The filmmaker will assume shipping costs of materials and print to SBIFF.

-If your feature film is selected, you will be asked to provide: digital stills from the film; digital press materials; and three 27x40 printed poster (no other poster size will be allowed).

-Films produced in languages other than English must have legible English subtitles.

-Not all invited films officially selected will be eligible for competition.

-The selection committees' and juries' decisions are final.

-If paying by check, the check MUST include the film title and FilmFreeway ID #

-Entrants must assume all responsibility for clearing films through U.S. and/or foreign customs officials.

-SBIFF reserves the right to make any necessary changes in regulations or Festival scheduling.

* Exception for Santa Barbara Local Filmmakers

-Local Filmmakers must request fee waivers through SBIFF website:

-In order to be considered for the local category, filmmakers (producer[s] and/or director) must have Santa Barbara County residence OR more than 50% of film must have been filmed in Santa Barbara area (Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta, Carpenteria, Summerland).

Overall Rating
  • 20 Steps Productions

    It was great to attend the festival, very good events, and a good audience.

    February 2020
  • Vjosa Berisha

    Great festival, totally recommended. Audience is great!

    February 2020
  • Mitchka Saberi

    A fantastic festival! SBIFF is extremely well-run and we really enjoyed having our film there. The events you get to attend where you can talk with fellow filmmakers and pass holders are definitely a highlight, we met so many people. The theatres they screen in are also wonderful, the panels are so informative, and tributes are so fun! Everyone who attends and runs the festival is so kind and we had a great time watching other films as well. We really appreciated that the programmers are willing to take risks and push boundaries with some of their selections, even when they know it won't please all of the audience.

    February 2020
  • Lynn Cunningham

    Wonderful film festival. Its really great how the festival seems to a major city wide event. The films are shown in several old style theatres that line the towns long Main Street. The whole city turns out in force including the college students. Screenings are all very well attended. We were thrilled that we were able to premiere at SB! ( and staff is super nice)

    February 2020
  • Luca Severi

    Great Experience. The staff was friendly and responsive.
    The community surrounding the festival was incredibly welcoming. We had 3 screening (one at 8.30 am) all sold out!! Highly recommended!

    February 2020