True Stories

Four documentary short films produced by UC Santa Barbara students will screen at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The work of UC Santa Barbara student filmmakers will hit the big screen as part of the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF).

Four short documentaries — all produced by students in the university’s film and media studies department — are featured in the festival lineup, which continues through Feb. 9. Three of the four films deal with the aftermath of the Thomas fire and the subsequent debris flows.  

Three of the films began as class assignments for lecturer and head of production Chris Jenkins’ course in environmental media production, known on campus as GreenScreen.

The fourth film, “805 Strong,” is a product of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s annual Blue Horizons program, which runs for nine weeks each summer and introduces students to the essential elements of producing documentary films.

“We are always proud to showcase some of the strong student films from UCSB at SBIFF,” said Michael Albright, the festival’s programming director. “The environmental documentaries from Blue Horizons and Green Screen are consistently highlights in the Santa Barbara documentary shorts program.”

About the student films chosen for the festival:

• “805 Strong” examines the resiliency of the Montecito community in the face of devastating and fatal debris flows in January 2018 and asks what is next as California faces increasingly unpredictable weather patterns

• “Our Last Trash” follows individuals who are combating the issue of plastic pollution by adopting a zero-waste lifestyle

• “Trail Heads” tells the story of two opposing mountain biking and hiking communities who come together to rebuild common ground after their favorite trail is destroyed by natural disaster  

• “Trial by Fire,” a documentary short, explores inmate firefighters who find purpose through their work helping to fight the Thomas Fire

All four films will be presented as part of the Santa Barbara Documentary Shorts program, a slate of short non-fiction films addressing local issues. The films will screen Saturday, Feb. 9, at 4:30 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre. Rush tickets, for seats not claimed by film festival passholders, can be purchased for $11 at the theatre box office 10 minutes prior to the screening.

More than 20 students collaborated on the crews of the selected films, participating in all aspects of filmmaking, from directing and producing to editing, sound engineering, cinematography and camera operation. More information about the festival, including a complete schedule, can be found at

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