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Santa Barbara's new film festival presents cinema focused on improving the world

The Illuminate Film Festival has moved from Sedona, Arizona to Santa Barbara.
Illuminate Film Festival
The Illuminate Film Festival has moved from Sedona, Arizona to Santa Barbara.

The Illuminate Film Festival moves to Santa Barbara from Sedona, Arizona. It's focus is on films like social action, the environment, and health.

Santa Barbara is the new home to a unique film festival which features movies intended to help make us, and the world a better place by inspiring social transformation.

Some 20 films are being featured at this year’s Illuminate Film Festival, which kicks off Friday night at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater.

"Illuminate was established ten years ago in Sedona, Arizona. It is dedicated to leveraging the power of cinema to help us become better versions of ourselves, both individually and as a human family " said
Teana David, who is the Film Festival's Executive Director.

"The time is now for us to evolve in order to us to care for the Earth, care for each other, and frankly give us a chance at a healthy and happy future," said Davis.

It features films focused on issues like health and well-being, spirituality, science and education, ecology, plus social action and democracy.

David admits finding quality films which fit the festival’s focus isn’t easy.

"It is incredibly difficult to find films whether they be about social change, or women's equality, or kelp forests in the ocean," said Davis. "But, at the heart of them is a shift in consciousness. To find that magic combination of a solution oriented film that at its core is about shifting ourselves at the root...that's difficult in itself."

The festival is a mix of in-person screenings at Santa Barbara theaters this weekend, and then a series of virtual showings.

It opens at the Lobero Theater Friday night, and then shifts to the Fiesta Five theaters over the weekend. It then picks up on Monday, and runs for a week online. She said they normally have people from more than a hundred countries watching the online version.

The festival moved to Santa Barbara this year, with David taking over as Executive Director.

Davis says they went to Santa Barbara International Film Festival Executive Director Roger Durling for advice. Because the Santa Barbara festival is so successful, they wanted his take on whether this specialty event would work well in the community:

They say he thought, and they feel Santa Barbara is the perfect place for a festival of this type.
It kicks off Friday night at the Lobero Theater with the documentary Love Over Money. It looks at the story of John Robbins, who walked away from a life of luxury from the family’s Baskins-Robbins ice cream empire to create his own path in the world.

Internationally known author Deepak Chopra will speak at the opening night event.


Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.