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SBIFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and education organization dedicated to making a positive impact utilizing the power of film. SBIFF is a year-round organization that is best known for its main film festival that takes place each year in February. Over the past 30 years the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums. We bring the best of independent and international cinema to Santa Barbara, and we continue to expand our year-round operation to include a wide range of educational programming, fulfilling our mission to engage, enrich and inspire our community through film.

In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. The theatre is SBIFF’s new home and is the catalyst for our program expansion. This marks the first time that Santa Barbara has had a 24/7 community center focused on the art of film and is an incredible opportunity to expand our mission of educational outreach. Particularly important to SBIFF is making available high quality learning opportunities for underserved and vulnerable populations. Our programs and reach are more robust than ever before.


Interview with Celia Aniskovich for Taking Back the Groove premiering at SBIFF


SBIFF 2024

With Director: Celia Aniskovich

By Emmanuel Itier

Taking Back the Groove reintroduces the world to Bronx-born ’80s disco superstar Richie Weeks. A writer, singer, and producer who was compared to Quincy Jones at his height, Richie created quintessential New York Disco and performed in the likes of Studio 54 and Paradise Garage, all while maintaining day jobs as a postal worker and bricklayer. His mega-hit Rock Your World made it to #1 on the dance charts in the ’80s and has since become a landmark song in the field of disco and house music.  Maverick director Celia Aniskovich managed the “tour de force” to bring forth the fight for this artist to gain back what was due to him but also to bring into the limelight the fight from so many other artists versus the big companies who exploited them beyond belief. The time of the Revolution is here, and, thanks to Ms Aniskovich, creators can now regain hope that justice will come to their rescue. Just before heading to Santa Barbara, I was lucky enough to have an inspiring conversation with director Celic Aniskovich.


Q: How did this film come together?


Celia: Actually, it’s a funny story. It was all about reconnecting with an older friend from high school. His brother is a big fan of electronic music and music in general. Somewhat he knew Richie Weeks and he was telling me how incredible he was and would I want to meet with him because he thoughts there was an incredible story about him. And I was blown away by Richie when I met him and even, so he is 79. Actually, I think he is more like 25! He has so much life and so many stories within himself. Also, this film was made during the writer’ strike and it is also an important message in this regard. It’s about, for all artists, to reclaim what is yours.


Q: Tell me about the various challenges you faced making this film?


Celia: One challenge was to be able to make a decision about the tracks, the songs we wanted to use from Richie because he has such a huge catalog of songs to choose from. And of course there were the thousands of emails between Jerome Derradji, a music producer and who was fighting for Richie, and BMG. Also, because it was a short documentary, it wasn’t so easy to sell the story in such a short amount of time, barely 32 minutes all together. Also, it was challenging to show the struggle but to show that at the end there is a happy ending. It was amazing to have him performed at the end and to honor his hard work and what he went through.


Q: At the end, what is this film truly about, what is the takeaway?


Celia: I think it’s all about re-affirming that artist have a right to control the rights of what they create. There is a need for conversation and a real call for action that people who create some art retain the control of it and the revenues coming from it. It’s people life and we can allow that it is controlled by the matrix and some algorithm at the end. These artists deserve to benefit from their hard work.


Q: Do you see yourself change from doing such a “political” movie like this one?


Celia: It’s rare you create a movie that you feel can provoke a real change, but I feel that with this movie it might the start of some really incredible change in the music industry, among other industries. I really hope this movie create some sort of synergy, so things change for all the artists out there whose art is controlled by entities who are not respecting their rights and paying what is really due to these artists.


Q: What does be selected in the Santa Barbara film festival means to you?


Celia: It’s fantastic to be in Santa Barbara. As you know it’s a very well respected and valued film festival in the World. We were honored to be chosen. It’s also about being closed to Los Angeles which is the West coast capital of the music industry and so I hope people from that world will pay attention to our movie and even come up and watch it.


Q: What is coming next for you?


Celia: Next I’m about to go in post on a Christmas tree salesman documentary! It’s a feature and I think this is another quite unique movie and it is called: The Merchants of Joy. It’s a beautiful story of entrepreneurship and commitment and joy. It’s about the battle between commercialism and real Christmas magic, and who will win!








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About Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has star wattage and a wealth of premieres in a Mediterrean-style city by the sea.

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The team of editors of the The Santa Barbara Blog:
Carol Marshall, Felicia Tomasko, Vanessa McMahon, Marla and Mark Hamperin, Kim Deisler and Bruno Chatelin

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