Celebrity Tributes


Utilizing the dramatic and beautiful setting of the historic Arlington Theatre, the Festival honors tribute recipients with an all-star red-carpet experience as lines of media, crowds of fans and Festival supporters line the streets. After 2,000 attendees fill the Arlington Theatre, the evening begins with a montage of the honoree’s body of work then the guest of honor takes the stage. Through the moderation of an industry professional, guests are treated to an hour and a half of raw and intimate conversation about the talent’s career. Interspersed, attendees will see clips from the honoree’s resume. The evening will conclude with a special guest taking the stage, speaking to their history with the honoree and presenting the award. The honoree will take a few moments to address the guest and attendees and the evening will come to a close. Every event is different experience and is never to be missed.

Annual awards may include the following:

Modern Master Award : The Modern Master Award is the highest honor presented by SBIFF. Established in 1995, it was created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry. Past recipients: Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.

American Riviera ™ Award : Santa Barbara has long been described as the American Riviera™. SBIFF proudly places this trademarked name on our newest award for outstanding achievement in American film. Past recipients: Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Tommy Lee Jones, Forest Whitaker and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Montecito Award : Named after one of the most beautiful and stylish areas in Santa Barbara the Montecito Award is given to a recipient whose style has been a contribution to film. Past recipients: Oprah Winfrey, Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Bill Condon, and Naomi Watts.

Outstanding Performance of the Year Award : This tribute was created to honor the actor or actress whose role in a film has exceeded greatness. The Outstanding Performance of the Year Award is given to the best performance of the year. Past recipients: Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, and Kate Winslet.

Cinema Vanguard Award : This tribute was created with the intention of honoring actors with the tenacity to forge new ground in their craft. Past recipients: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jean Dujardin, Berenice Nejo, Nicole Kidman, Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ryan Gosling

Virtuosos Award : An award given to multiple “up-and-coming” actors for achieving a breakthrough performance. Past recipients: Daniel Brühl, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, June Squibb, Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy, Quvenzhané Wallis, Demian Bichir, Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, Shailene Woodley, Andy Serkis, Patton Oswalt, Andrew Garfield, John Hawkes, Lesley Manville, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Stuhlbarg, Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, and Michael Shannon.

Outstanding Director : An award given to a director not afraid to push the envelope in the cinematic world and has the eye for the picture they want to present and then does so, with an expertise that is both gracious and bold. Past recipients: David O. Russell, Kathryn Bigelow, and Danny Boyle

David Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking : The David Attenborough Award was created for and first given to Sir David Attenborough for his commitment to nature filmmaking This award is given to a filmmaker who shows passion for nature filmmaking. Past recipients: “The Cove”, James Cameron, Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim.