Back to the Garden

By Steven Libowitz   |   August 27, 2020
The Garden is Singing is an 11-minute paean to Ganna Walska’s Lotusland that screened as part of the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Film Talk finds its way to the Montecito hills for a viewing and discussion of The Garden is Singing, Karen Kasaba’s 11-minute paean to Ganna Walska’s Lotusland that screened as part of the 2019 film festival. Singing does a credible job of capturing the beauty, diversity, history, and breadth of the garden in the context of calling attention to one of the purposes public botanic gardens serve, namely to heighten awareness of plant conservation and preservation. The garden of course is a fabulously functioning and stunningly beautiful example of an ecosystem set in a 37-acre corner of Montecito, and the short film takes a brief journey toward capturing the visual, emotional, and spiritual experience of Lotusland on screen.

Viewers are invited to watch the documentary on the garden’s website (, on YouTube or elsewhere and then join director Kasaba and SBIFF programmer Audrey Arn in a live Zoom conversation as they talk about the piece and the place at 6 pm on Thursday, August 27 over Zoom. Register at

In other SBIFF news, the festival has revived its online screening series of new films with the latest from documentary auteur Werner Herzog. NOMAD: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin finds Herzog turning the camera on himself and his decades-long friendship with the travel writer Bruce Chatwin, a kindred spirit whose own quest for truth carried him to all corners of the globe, much like the revered filmmaker. Herzog’s portrait of Chatwin, illustrated with archival discoveries, film clips, and a mound of “brontosaurus skin,” is a deeply personal effort, one that encompasses their shared interest in aboriginal cultures, ancient rituals, and “the mysteries stitching together life on Earth.” The film will be available to stream beginning on August 27, with a portion of the rental fee earmarked for SBIFF’s still-shuttered Riviera Theatre. Visit


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