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Santa Barbara is covering live from Santa Barbara with pictures and videos.
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.


Santa Barbara Interview with the director of THE RIGHT TO READ - SBIFF 2023.


Intervew with Director: Jenny MacKenzie

By Emmanuel Itier and Roxanna Bina

The Right to Read shares the stories of a courageous activist, a teacher, and two American families who fight to provide our youngest generation with the most foundational indicator of life-long success: the ability to read.

Learn more at:





Q: What was the idea behind this project and what was the goal?


Jenny: It came to me in 2018, from one of my backers and after Sundance where I had another film. He convinced me we needed to do a film about early reading and why kids are not learning to read in our country, the USA. I was all in very quickly because learning to read is personal for me. I was not a good reader as a young child. I was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 14. But I was lucky to have resources and educated parents. And I had the opportunity to get tested and then to get help. I had a lot of support. Until I made this film I didn’t know what privilege this was to be taken care of and how fortunate I was. It was daunting jumping into a giant topic like this one and you have to figure out how to make a film impactful. Doing docs for 20 years now and teaching at the university, I can tell you that the keys to make a strong film are: a solid story and great characters. A documentary is a compassion machine, and we bring people into people’s life through the camera and in a very intimate way. You want to make them care and feel.


Q: What were the challenges making this film?


Jenny: The biggest problem was filming during the pandemic. We started filming in 2018 with remarkable families featured in the movie. We met our main character Kareem Weaver at the very beginning of the pandemic. So, during the first six month I couldn’t go to Oakland and film there. It was prior to vaccination. I remember that finally we got together, and we were so prudent. Even so he had to take his mask off at some point for filming.


Q: What is this film about at the end? What is the takeaway?


Jenny: You make me think about my teaching and how I always ask my students: what is this really about? It’s truly about Kareem’s big vision and mission. Which is: for decades and centuries in our country we have included and excluded people from the privilege and the right to read, and to participate in a democracy. To participate in a democracy, you need the basic skills of reading. What resonates is that it’s about racism, and inequity, it’s a film that brings us back in history and it’s a call for action. Do we have the political will to change things. We need to change the way we teach our kids, so this gets better. Reading has to be accessible to all children and not to a small percentage as it is today.


Q: What is the meaning of the Santa Barbara film festival?


Jenny: It is so exiting to be in Santa Barbara and to share this film with an audience. It’s a big celebration and it’s important to get this story out in the world. The big task is to get excited about this festival and then see how we can create conversation and expand the impact of this film. It’s all about firing people up so it provokes change.

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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.

Blogging here with dailies: 
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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