Jennifer Strube

Jennifer Strube

Educator. Author. Learning Designer. Outdoor Enthusiast. Dark Chocolate Fiend.
Follow her blog The Wild Awakeness Project at or grab her book The Virgin Asanas on Amazon. And remember to just keep dreaming.

Each year, the Santa Barbara Film Festival honors directors who have gone above and beyond in their filmmaking to present them with the Outstanding Directors Award. This year was no exception. Moderated by Pete Hammond and featuring five directors from five Oscar-nominated films, the evening was a delightful discussion on how scripts are given life.

“It was a losing proposition at first,” remarked Damien Chazelle, writer and director of La La Land, who began working on the film in 2011 at age 27. To his dismay, Chazelle gathered very little interest in his tap-dancing vision. To offer proof-of-concept of himself as a director, he wrote and directed another film Whiplash (2014). When Whiplash stole the hearts of the audience at Sundance Film Festival, Chazelle used the opportunity to repitch his La La Land dream. It sold, and in preparation for the film’s eventual production, the cast visited Gene Kelly’s archives, paging through Kelly’s directorial notes. “Trying to find what’s still vital in these forms,” Chazelle reminded, allowed me to “use fantasy to comment on the real world.” Blending a by-gone era of cinemascope with traffic-infused highways brought the past to kiss the present…

Each year, the SBIFF honors actors who have achieved a breakthrough performance in film with the Virtuoso Award. While we expect these recipients to be well-studied and glamorous, we might not expect their casual words to cause breakthrough for us as mere Saturday night audience members of the awards ceremony. We might better expect Hollywood to put stars in our eyes but miss our hearts. Yet this year, the panel of eight Virtuosos did just that, becoming champions of virtue on a rainy Saturday night. Hosted by awards expert, Dave Karger, the evening showcased video montages of and fifteen-minute interviews with each honoree. Each of the eight, each star used their spotlight for the justice that art must defend. Through vulnerability, passion, and precision, whether 26 or 67, each star was a monument of character.

Lights. Glamour. Song. Jazz. Tap. Love. Heartache. Folly.

It doesn’t take much to woo a sold-out performance into the Arlington Theatre to honor Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone for their cinematic feat of nostalgia and present-day fervor.

La La Land: a phrase first coined print in the Los Angeles Times in 1925, which has evolved to embody a sentiment of fantasy, bliss, and a reach beyond reality. Intricately tied to Los Angeles, the city of Hollywood hopes and romantic visions, the term La La Land has been recaptured anew by the depth of this film, blending cinematic imaginations with realistic endings where lovers don’t always live happily ever after.


“A dream come true,” was the sentiment on Roger Durling’s lips upon announcing the arrival of Denzel Washington to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

It was certainly a night of dreams, as film critic Leonard Maltin graced the Arlington Theatre stage for the 27th time to moderate the evening. With a standing ovation welcoming Denzel to the stage, the two conversed candidly about theatre, film, and finding the proper outlet for one’s artistry in the world.

“I was set on the t-h-e-a-t-r-e kind of theatre in my youth,” said Denzel. “The whole avoid-L.A.-and-make-$500-a-week kind of thing.” A pre-med student in his late teens, Denzel stumbled into acting while taking an elective class at Fordham University in the Bronx. Shortly after, he fell in love with the medium and completed classical training at the American Conservatory Theatre. Influenced by theatrical giants such as Sidney Poitier and James Earl Jones, Denzel’s dream took hold in 1981 while starring as Malcolm X in the off-Broadway play When the Chickens Come Home to Roost. When the hundred-person audience overflowed into thousands, Denzel felt at home. “The feeling of finding your place in the world, the buzz… not to say I’m a messenger, but I do the best I can.”


Thursday, 01 December 2016

So much fun! Keep laughing, America.

It’s been a big week for America. Regardless of your political leaning, the state of the world has undergone huge and heated changes. So when headlines seem daunting and when your Facebook feed has been full, there is nothing left to do but stroll yourself into the Arlington and watch the fish slap dance.

“He wrote Rocky in three days and refused to sell it unless he starred in it.”

Need there be any further introduction for Mr. Sylvester Stallone, recipient of the SBIFF prestigious Montecito Award hosted by film critic Pete Hammond.

“It’s more than just a film,” spoke Roger Durling while introducing Friday night’s American Riviera Award at the Arlington Theater. “It’s music. It’s a liberation!”

It’s Spotlight.


US film premiers easily conjure up images of Hollywood stardom at its spectacular best, and the opening night gala of the 31st annual Santa Barbara International Film Fest did not disappoint. A camera-lined red carpet full of glamour and gowns brushed shoulders with expectant film fans, eagerly awaiting cinematic bliss. 

“Up-and-coming actors who have achieved a breakthrough performance.” According to the SBIFF, this is the definition of a Virtuoso. 

When Nicole Kidman tells you she gets frightened, you listen. When the fearless and iconic Australian actress tells you courage is difficult, your ears perk. “It’s hard to stay brave when you get older,” Miss Kidman said in her 2011 acceptance of the Cinema Vanguard Awards. “You are suddenly aware of the risks.”

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