Bringing Movies Back to the Big Screen

By Steven Libowitz   |   June 18, 2020
The Trip to Greece will be one of the first films shown at the Riviera Theatre when it reopens June 19

COVID-19 has certainly crushed a lot of dreams since forcing a shutdown back in March. But it’s also had a silver lining or two: After having closed its doors, supposedly forever, just a little more than a year ago, the Westwind Drive-In movie theater reopened a couple of weeks back, and immediately became a desired destination for families and others sick of being stuck at home watching Netflix night after night.

Now, with the most recent relaxing of the shelter-in-place orders, Metropolitan Cinemas has announced plans to reopen two of its most cherished theaters – the Metro 4 in downtown Santa Barbara and the Camino Real Cinema at the Marketplace in Goleta – next Friday, June 26. (Much more about that next week.) In between, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Riviera Theatre is slated to start screening art films once again this Friday, June 19, at the cinema that SBIFF renovated after acquiring it from Metropolitan.

The folks over there say they’ve “implemented every recommended safety precaution… and then some,” meaning in addition to touchless ticketing and social distancing seating, SBIFF has reconfigured its hospital grade custom-built industrial AC/heat/filtration system so that air recirculation has been disabled, with negative pressure pulling out stagnant air to be exhausted externally, replaced by filtered outside air. Disposable seat coverings will be changed for every screening, while all staff and guests will be required to wear masks at all times. Meanwhile, film-wise, the first offerings include The Trip to Greece, written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, and Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, playing in repertory for the first full week.

In other SBIFF news, the public is invited to view and vote for the Audience Award winners in the festival’s Student Showcase-in-Place in high school and college divisions, in which the students, who have submitted their end-of-year films for the community and a panel to view, are vying for the Jury and Audience Awards. Voting ends at 12 noon on June 22, and people are limited to one vote per day for each division. Winners will be announced the following day. Visit


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