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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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SBCC film studies class attends city’s international film festival

Ryan Cullom
Producers from several Oscar nominated films talk at the Producers Panel on Saturday, February 6, at the Lobero Theatre. Students enrolled in the Film Festival Studies class at Santa Barbara City College get the opportunity to attend many of the panels and events throughout the 10 day Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

It’s early Saturday morning and students are gathered at Antioch University in downtown Santa Barbara for another day at the film festival as their instructor presents a schedule for the day, going on from early in the morning to late in the evening.

About 30 City College students have enrolled in Film Studies 108A, “Film Festival Studies,” this semester. They will be attending the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for 10 full days of talks, screenings and panels with both American and international filmmakers.

“We are covering one semester in 10 days,” said Associate Professor Nico Maestu, chair of the film and media studies department. “It requires dedication.”

Over 200 films are participating in this year’s festival, and Oscar nominated actors, writers and producers will attend. With more than 60 students from all over the country visiting on Saturday, Feb. 6, private talks and Q&A’s with the filmmakers are taking place. Maestu’s class met with novice filmmaker Casey Cohen, who shared his experiences of making his first film “A Matter of Time” after only taking a few film production classes.

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“The best experience I got was from making this film,” Cohen said. “The learning curve was learning by doing.”

At a lively and sold out Lobero Theater, the students got to attend panels with writers and producers for major films such as “Room,” “The Martian,” “Spotlight” and “The Revenant.” With great humor and enthusiasm, the filmmakers discussed diversity in the industry, awards and the filmmaking process. To wrap it up, they gave advice for aspiring filmmakers in the audience.

“You have to be like a shark,” said Alex Garland, writer for the film “Ex Machina.” “You got to keep going.”

This year, the class received a donation from Founder of Lynda Weinman that provided the students with free tickets for the festival. During previous years the students had to pay for the tickets themselves.

“This is an improvement,” said Maestu. “Now everyone can go. There is no hindrance.”

After attending the festival, the students are asked to write film reviews and criticism for the Film Review website. It is not rare that these reviews are the first for some movies, and they could be a way for students to gain access to other film festivals, Maestu explains.

The group of students in the class is varied in many ways. With the youngest at 18 years old, some are over 65. Some of them are aspiring film critics, producers or writers while others are there for the experience, inspiration and film screenings.

“I’ve always been interested in movies and wanted to learn about the film world,” said Student Ashley Gatimu, 19, psychology major. “I’m going to switch majors now.”

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