The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, announced today the highly-anticipated winners for its 31st year at a breakfast held in their honor. Ten winning films in as many categories were announced, culminating in the coveted audience award which went to THE CULPABLE.

Three awards, chosen by jury members Perry Lang and Mimi deGruy, were handed out for short films. The Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Lluís Quílez’s GRAFFITI, chosen for its brave and beautiful use of Chernobyl in winter as a real character in a fictional story about a man in isolation. THE ORCHESTRA, directed by Michael Hill, received the Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animated Short Film not only because of its “lovely” animation and music but the sentiment that demonstrates we all live with our own soundtrack in the hope it can someday work in concert with someone we love. Finally, Best Documentary Short Film was awarded to LEBANON WINS THE WORLD CUP, directed by Tony Khoury, because of the filmmakers’ unique understanding of Beirut and their ability to give us a soulful snapshot of the power of forgiveness.

The Nueva Vision Award for Spanish / Latin American Cinema went to Martin Tuta’s TALIÓN, chosen by jury members Alan Marshall & Geoffrey Cowper for being so bold and straightforward with such an important and relevant issue as child pornography, and for electrifying filmmaking with powerful and emotional performances.

VITA ACTIVA: THE SPIRIT OF HANNAH ARENDT was awarded the Best Documentary Film Award by jury members Phyllis de Picciotto and Margaret Lazarus. When asked why, they said “Ada Ushpiz’s ‘Vita Activa’ is a sometimes critical, but always incisive, biography of the independent thinker Hannah Arendt. We chose this film because after experiencing it and really listening to what she has to say, you will have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a responsible human being.”

Jury members Sean Baker and James Morrison chose Rebecca Daly’s MAMMAL as winner of the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema. They chose to award a film that they found beautifully perverse, truthful, thick, sad, and visually poetic. They felt this is a film that is confident in its bold choices and is never afraid to seek empathy in characters who perform unsympathetic acts. They thought Rachel Griffiths delivers a courageous performance which hopefully continues to be recognized.

The Social Justice Award for Documentary Film went to 10 BILLION: WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE?, directed by Valentin Thurn. Jury members Anthony and Arnette Zerbe chose the film as an alarming glimpse of the imminent disaster of food shortage in the world. They felt the film exposes the precarious balance of greed on one side and creative innovation on the other. “Wake up, GREED is winning!”

Jury members Johannes Kuhnke and Neil Konigsberg chose VILLE-MARIE as the recipient of the Best International Film Award. Kuhnke and Konigsberg praised the performances of the actors and applauded Guy Édoin’s film as a richly conceived and ambitious look at multiple characters coming together through tragedy and subsequent healing. They also noted the unique story elements of the film, particularly the soap opera that was within the unfolding drama.

Sponsored by Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties ADL, The ADL Stand Up Award went to Paddy Breathnach’s VIVA. The purpose of the ADL Stand Up Award is to recognize and celebrate the impact that storytelling can have in fostering mutual understanding and respect. “Viva”, a story about both confrontation and transformation on multiple levels, was chosen because it powerfully stands up for respecting diversity, rejecting bigotry, and celebrating a triumph of self-realization and love over hate.

Sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, the Audience Choice Award went to Gerd Schneider’s THE CULPABLE. The film, which had its US premiere at the festival this week, deals with the life and faith of catholic prison minister Jakob Voelz, who becomes troubled when his best friend and hieratical colleague Dominik is taken in custody under suspicion of sexual abuse.