From Bill Murray to Sacha Baron Cohen: Santa Barbara Film Festival 2021 Highlights | Festivals & Awards


Trump was not re-elected. Mission: accomplished? “We felt we had to make something so that we could look ourselves in the mirror on November 4th and say, ‘We did something,’” Cohen said. “We weren’t bystanders.”

The politically-charged “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” was a project long in gestation. Cohen had auditioned to portray Abbie Hoffman 13 years ago when Steven Spielberg was attached to direct. When it was set to finally move forward with Sorkin as director, Cohen asked his agent to re-pitch him for the role. “Amazingly,” he said, “the casting director and Aaron came back and said, ‘Yes, Sacha is Abbie. There’s no one else that we’d consider.’”

Both films were released about two weeks before the presidential election. “Even in these two really different movies, there’s a common truth and that’s the danger of lies and tyranny,” Cohen reflected. “When I was being hustled (as Borat) out of Mike Pence’s speech or questioned by the Secret Service, I was inspired by Abbie Hoffman and the lesson of his life that, in the face of lies and tyranny, we cannot be silent.”

Alaskan Nets,” a world premiere documentary, was the winner of the SBIFF’s Audience Award. Directed by Jeff Harasimowicz and executive produced by Chris Pratt, “Alaskan Nets” may be formulaic, but it’s a thoroughly winning formula. It is set in Metlakatla, Alaska’s last Native reserve. Here on Annette Island, life is nothing but nets: fishing, which for generations has been the livelihood of the residents, and basketball nets, which is the life blood of the reserve, its own “Friday Night Lights” as one resident remarks.

Harasimowicz chronicles the 2017-2018 season in “the Met” as the high school basketball team, the Chiefs, led by cousins Danny Marsden and DJ King, pursues its first state title since 1984. This is “Hoosiers” territory, and this true story of an economically devastated community, its culture, and a quest for hope is a natural for an eventual Hollywood treatment.

Michael Webber’s “Conservation Game,” which likewise received its world premiere at the festival, is something for the “Tiger King” crowd, but it eschews sensationalism to deliver something much more biting as it exposes celebrity conservationists and “the seedy underbelly of backyard breeders and the roadside zoo.”

You can view the original article HERE.

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