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Interview: Iranian filmmaker Bahram Beyzaie discusses “Downpour,” his newly-restored, pivotal classic of Iranian cinema, screening at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, Sunday, April 28, 2013

Iranian film director and playwright Bahram Beyzaie will appear at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival for a screening of “Downpour,” (Ragbar, 1971), a classic of Iranian cinema, newly restored by the World Cinema Foundation. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

Iranian film director and playwright Bahram Beyzaie will appear at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival for a screening of “Downpour,” (Ragbar, 1971), a classic of Iranian cinema, newly restored by the World Cinema Foundation. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

Over the years, the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 56) has showcased some remarkable Iranian films and this year is no exception.  Bahram Beyzaie’s Downpour (Ragbar, 1971, 128 min), poetic and executed in a neo-realistic vein, was pivotal in shaping Iranian new wave cinema.  It hasn’t been screened in the Bay Area publicly for years but the newly-restored classic screens twice at SFIFF—Sunday, April 28 and Sunday, May 5.  Beyzaie, one of Iran’s most esteemed filmmakers, playwrights, and scholars of the history of Iranian theater, will attend on Sunday, April 28, participating in a post-screening Q&A with the audience.   This event almost immediately went to rush sales but, so far, tickets are available for the second showing.

Beyzaie, currently teaching at Stanford, is part of the generation of filmmakers referred to as the Iranian New Wave which emerged in the late 1960’s.  Blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, and transcending the realism of Iran’s pre-revolutionary era with a highly poetic approach to editing, dialogue and context, Downpour, was an early pillar of the new wave.  Remarkably, it was Beyzaie’s first feature film.   He was heavily into theatre at that time.  Despite being regarded as one of the best and most influential Iranian films ever made, Downpour was nearly considered lost as it screened so rarely.  Beyzaie had the only known surviving copy and was reticent to show it.  All other copies had been seized and presumably destroyed.  Thanks to Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, the surviving print, badly damaged with scratches, perforation tears and mid-frame splices, was restored in 2011 at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/ L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory.  Over 1500 hours went into its repair.

Downpour’s story revolves around Mr. Hekmati (Parviz Fannizadeh), an educated and progressive teacher who is transferred to a school in the south of Tehran, a poor conservative area.  When his pupils become unruly, he expels one young boy. The boy’s older sister, `Atefeh (Parvaneh Masoomi), comes to the school and protests the expulsion, speaking to Hekmati in private.  Another student sees them together and spreads rumors that Mr. Hekmati and `Atefeh are having a love affair.  As Hekmati tries to set the record straight, he suddenly finds he really is in love with her.  Caught between the overactive imaginations of his students and the idle gossip of neighborhood busybodies, the idealistic Mr. Hekmati quickly finds himself at the center of controversy.  Soon all eyes in the community are on him.  A rich story that explores love as much as it does control and morality, Downpour addresses Iranian society in a way that reveals what is intimate and poignantly familiar in our human condition.

I spoke with Bahram Beyzaie last week. He has been at Stanford for three years now and teaches courses in Iranian cinema, Iranian contemporary theater, and cinema and mythology.  His career as a filmmaker has spanned four decades and he has made ten feature and four short films and has more than thirty-five plays and fifty screenplays to his credit.  He is also quite active in theatre and his latest theater work, “Jana & Baladoor: A Play in Shadows,” was produced by Stanford University’s Iranian Studies Dept. and performed at Palo Alto’s Cubberly Community Center in 2012.

To what does the title “Ragbar” or “Downpour” refer?  It is about intellectual life in Iran at that time?

Bahram Beyzaie: It refers to intellectual life in Iran in general and not just at that time. The appearance of the main character in Downpour is very short, like a flash of a lightening.

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie's “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the greatest Iranian films,  restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, screening at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance.   Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie’s “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the greatest Iranian films, restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, screening at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

What was it like to make a film in Iran in the 1970’s?  You worked with few resources but produced a beautiful film.

Bahram Beyzaie:  Downpour was an independent film, and had no official or commercial sponsor.  It was spontaneously made with no prior planning.  I wanted to create something that went against Iranian commercial cinema and its affected/ pseudo-intellectual films.  For the first time in Iranian cinema, the protagonist is an educated person who is not ridiculed or humiliated by the filmmaker.  In those days, Iranian traditional thinkers were in the position of humiliating the intellectuals.  This film, as well as my third film, addresses the very common educated figure without exaggerating their intellectualism.

What was it like to make a film in Iran in the 1970’s?  You worked with few resources but produced a beautiful film.

Bahram Beyzaie:  Downpour was an independent film, and had no official or commercial sponsor.  It was spontaneously made with no prior planning.  I wanted to create something that went against Iranian commercial cinema and its affected/ pseudo-intellectual films.  For the first time in Iranian cinema, the protagonist is an educated person who is not ridiculed or humiliated by the filmmaker.  In those days, Iranian traditional thinkers were in the position of humiliating the intellectuals.  This film, as well as my third film, addresses the very common educated figure without exaggerating their intellectualism.

Who is the most interesting character in the film to you and why? And has that changed any over time?

Bahram Beyzaie:  In this story, the central characters are the most interesting to me.  The main male character, Mr. Hekmati, is misplaced and certainly a stranger.  As for the female character, `Atefeh, this was the first time a female central character was not a prostitute, singer, dancer, or a villager who was seduced by rich figures.  Instead, she is a young woman who has a job and tries to find her position to help her family.  In Downpour,`Atefeh is presented in a traditional appearance, but in her hidden self, she wishes for change and independence.

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie's “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the greatest Iranian films,  restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, screening at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance.   Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie’s “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the greatest Iranian films, restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, screening at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

What more can you add about Iranian women in at that time?

Bahram Beyzaie:  There was a diversity of female figures in the 70’s—from deeply religious and fanatic, to traditional, to very sophisticated women who were university professors, painters, writers, poets, theater activists, some filmmakers, administrative personalities, nurses and medical doctors, and so forth.  For example, Downpour’s composer, again for the first in Iranian Cinema, was a woman. It is a great sorrow that Iranian cinema clung so to outdated clichés and portrayed women either as low class singer/dancers, prostitutes, or, if they were educated, as silly, rich, or negative figures.

 How did you select the actors in Downpour and were they well known at the time? Did their participation in the film have any significant impact on their careers and did you ever work with any of them again?

Bahram Beyzaie:  Some of the actors, including the two main male characters— Parviz Fannizadeh (Hekmati) and Manouchehr Farid (the butcher) were my friends and colleagues in theater, talented but not as successful in their careers as they deserved to be.  Before Downpour, they had one or two film experiences with very short parts.  The central female character `Atefeh (Parvaneh Masoomi) was unknown to the audience at that time. We discovered her from a TV commercial, maybe her first and last.  Later, I acknowledged that she had a film experience in a supporting role.  All the boys were my neighbors and had parts in my first short film. I worked with a couple of these boys in my next short film.  I worked with Parvaneh Masomi and Manouchehr Farid in three other movies, and Parviz Fanizadeh won his life’s sole acting prize for his performance as Mr. Hekmati in Downpour.

How would you describe the storytelling style you employed in “Downpour,” other than allegorical?

Bahram Beyzaie:  Poetic maybe. A poem about daily life.  Most of Iranian artistic language is allegorical, metaphoric, or poetic. More or less, you can find metaphors in other countries’ artistic languages as well, but it may be the core of Iranian artistic expression.  So is mine in my own way. You know, my father and grandfather were poets too, but their styles were different from mine.

Bahram Beyzaie in the 1970’s, a pioneer of Iranian new wave cinema.  His father, uncle and grandfather were famous poets.

Bahram Beyzaie in the 1970’s, a pioneer of Iranian new wave cinema. His father, uncle and grandfather were famous poets.

What are the characteristics of a great story?

Bahram Beyzaie:  I don’t have a good short answer for all tastes.  I wish you could watch my last theater work “Jana & Baladoor: A Play in Shadows” which was produced by Stanford University’s Iranian Studies Department —it had music, poetry, puppets, myths, and was a legend of the four mythic siblings representing the four basic elements of earth, water, air, and fire, who battled to redeem the world.

You have written a book about Hitchcock; tell me about your early cinema experiences in Iran. What did you like and was anything restricted?

Bahram Beyzaie:  After watching Chaplin’s “City Lights” I began to discover serious cinema by watching three black and white films: Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”, Ophüls’ “Letter’s from an unknown woman” and Carol Reed’s “Third Man”. Later Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” was a shock to discover oriental culture and cinema and great heritage of theater forms. In addition, I loved the great films of German expressionism, work of French masters, Italian neo-Realism, Russian epic cinema, Nordic classic films, British iconic films and American classic cinema. Tehran had a Cine-club and a very important film center which showed all these films on the big screen. Furthermore, the Italian, French, German, American, and USSR cultural centers were active as well in screening their classical films and they were all open to the public.  I remember watching Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin in the Russian cultural center.  I will never forget the joy of watching Satiyajit Ray’s “Paterpanchali” in the Indian Cultural Center. I remember the Americans had three weeks of American Classical Cinema and I watched all of them. It was usual and normal to watch international films in Tehran at that time – when I was twenty.

How did you eventually become the chairman of Dramatic arts at Tehran University?

Bahram Beyzaie:  It was the subsequent of my theater background. In high school I discovered Shakespeare and Greek masters of tragedy, and then suddenly I returned to Iranian traditional theater forms to research the Oriental theater — Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian. I started to write plays and became a stage director. Because of my works I was invited to teach theater at the Tehran University.

What was your involvement in the restoration?

Bahram Beyzaie:  It happened by the kindness of others. One of my colleagues attending a film festival met someone from the World Cinema Foundation and they spoke of Iranian films and me. My colleague was asked about my films and she explained that Downpour was the only film that was here and had English subtitles but could not be screened due to being the only subtitled copy of the film that existed. Hearing this, the World Cinema Foundation agreed to restore it and they did all the work in Bologna and it took about a year. Thanks to their hard work!

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie's “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the greatest Iranian films,  restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, screening at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance.   Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie’s “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the greatest Iranian films, restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, screening at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

What are you teaching at Stanford?

I’ve been at Stanford (visiting lecturer in comparative literature) for three years now, teaching Iranian cinema, Iranian cinema diaspora, Iranian contemporary theater, and cinema and mythology, which is an analytic view on numerous great films in general from the angle of mythology.

To view a 10 minute trailer of the unrestored Downpour click here.

Downpour/ Ragbar (1971): Directed by Bahram Beyzaie, Screenwriter: Bahram Beyzaie. Cast: Parviz Fannizadeh, Parvaneh Masumi, Manuchehr Farid.  DigiBeta, b/w, in Persian with English subtitles, 120 min.

Bahram Beyzaie Films: Vaqti hame khābim (When We Are All Asleep) (2009), Qāli-ye Sokhangū (2006), Sag-Koshi (Killing Mad Dogs)(2001), Mosaferan (The Passengers)(1992), Bashu (The Little Stranger)(1989), Shayad Vaghti Deegar (Maybe Some Other Time)(1988), Marg Yazdgerd (Death of Yazdgerd)(1982), Tcherike-ye Tara (Ballad of Tara)(1979), Kalagh (The Crow)(1976), Gharibe va Meh (The Stranger and the Fog)(1974),  Safar (The Journey)(1972), Ragbar (Downpour)(1971); Amoo Sibilou (1969)

(Other restored films which have screened at SFIFF in recent years include Federic Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (Italy, 1960) SFIFF 54; Satyajit Ray’s The Music Room (India, 1958)

DETAILS:  Downpour Screens Sunday, April 28, 12:15 PM, Kabuki AND Sunday, May 5, 3:20 PM BAM/PFA).  Check ticket availability here.

SFIFF56: April 25-May 9, 2013.  5 Screening Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Theatre, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. Tickets: $15 for most films with a variety of multiple screening passes. Special events generally start at $20  More info: (415) 561-5000, www.festival.sffs.org

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April 27, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival opens Thursday night with a captivating family drama and continues with 14 days of film from all corners of the globe

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer's “Act of Killing,” a documentary executive produced by Werner Herzog, that paints an extraordinary portrayal of the Indonesian genocide.  In Indonesia, a land ruled by gangsters, death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes and the filmmakers challenge them to re-enact their real-life mass killings in the style of the American movies they love.  Playing at SFIFF 56.  Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer’s “Act of Killing,” a documentary executive produced by Werner Herzog, that paints an extraordinary portrayal of the Indonesian genocide. In Indonesia, a land ruled by gangsters, death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes and the filmmakers challenge them to re-enact their real-life mass killings in the style of the American movies they love. Playing at SFIFF 56. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF56) opens Thursday and runs for 15 days, featuring 158 films and live events from 51 countries—67 narrative features, 28 documentary features, 63 shorts, over a dozen juried awards, and over 100 participating filmmakers present.  Organized by the San Francisco Film Society, this is THE premiere festival for film in the Bay Area and is well-known for its emphasis on experimental storytelling, its support of new filmmakers and for championing independent films that are unlikely to screen elsewhere in the Bay Area.  One of the joys of attending SFIFF is getting to see these films the way they were meant to be seen–on a big screen, in digital projection—and, in many cases, getting to participate in Q&A’s with their directors and actors, most of whom reside in other countries.  SFIFF also distinguishes itself with excellent live onstage special events that feature filmmakers in enthralling moderated discussions.  While its parties are great, this festival is all about film.  In addition to this festival overview, stay turned to ARThound for coverage of Iranian films and art-related films.

BIG NIGHTS:

This year both opening and closing night films address relationships and family and the dirty little secrets that can drive huge wedges in supposedly sacred bonds. OPENING NIGHT  (Thursday, April 24) kicks off with Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s emotional drama What Maisie Knew (USA 2012) starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgård.  The film explores the collateral damage

Juliette Moore and Onata Aprile in a scene from Scott McGehee and David Siegel's “What Maisie Knew” which opens the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 - May 9, 2013. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Juliette Moore and Onata Aprile in a scene from Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “What Maisie Knew” which opens the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 – May 9, 2013. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

 of divorce through the eyes of six year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile) who is silent but, like a sponge, soaks up all the toxic waste her negligent parents put out.  When they do succeed in splitting, they re-partner rapidly. Maisie attaches quite readily to her mother’s new husband, Lincoln, a bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) who has no obvious child-rearing skills but rises to the occasion.  Not surprisingly, this crushing portrait of affluence, indifference, self-absorption, hope and innocence shows that you can’t choose the family you are born into but you’d be better off if you could.  (opens SFIFF56 on Thursday, April 25, 2013, 7  p.m. Castro Theatre, followed by a gala party at Temple Nightclub )

This year’s CENTERPIECE is Saturday, May 4, and celebrates Jacob Kornbluth and his insightful Inequality For All (USA 2013), featuring local UC Berkeley economist Robert Reich, one of the world’s leading experts on work and the economy, Clinton’s former Labor Secretary and named one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last decade by Time magazine.  This powerful documentary, winner of the Special Jury Award at this year’s Sundance festival, makes the argument that capitalism has fatally abandoned the middle classes while making the super-rich even richer.  Based on Reich’s bestselling Aftershock (2011, Vintage Press) which explores the roots of American economic stagnation and blames lack of middle class prosperity and spending, the highly entertaining film is billed as An Inconvenient Truth of the economy.  (Screens Saturday, May 4, 6:30 PM, Kabuki, followed by a party at Roe nightclub from 8:30 -11 PM)

A scene from Richard Linklater's “Before Midnight,” which follows Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), who first met on a train to Vienna (“Before Sunrise”) and reconnected in Paris nine years later (“Before Sunset”), and now another nine years have passed and they are navigating the complications of careers, kids, a long-term committed relationship and unfulfilled dreams. Closing night film at SFIFF 56.  Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” which follows Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), who first met on a train to Vienna (“Before Sunrise”) and reconnected in Paris nine years later (“Before Sunset”), and now another nine years have passed and they are navigating the complications of careers, kids, a long-term committed relationship and unfulfilled dreams. Closing night film at SFIFF 56. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

CLOSING NIGHT: The festival closes with a live on-stage discussion featuring celebrated indie director Richard Linklater (Bernie, SFIFF55 2012) and actress Julie Delpy in conversation about their latest film Before Midnight  (USA 2013), the third film in Linklater’s romantic trilogy starring Delpy and Ethan Hawke.  The film was raved about at Sundance.  It’s now eighteen years later and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), the couple who met on that train from Budapest to Vienna in Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), are vacationing in Greece and living in Paris as a middle-aged couple with two twin girls, and negotiating all the minefields of a committed long-term relationship.  He’s got a young son living in the States with his remarried ex-wife and the pressure of holding it all together and remaining true to their own creative drives has left them exhausted. Before Midnight catches the couple in random conversation that oscillates between clever banter and passive-aggressive swipes and then, suddenly, takes the plunge to full-on below-the-belt game-changing blows.  All unfolds as they are vacationing in Greece—beautiful, troubled, ancient, modern—it too becomes a character in the film.  Before Midnight screens as the Closing Night film at the Castro Theatre on May 9. The screening and conversation will be followed by a celebration party.

ARThound’s top picks: 

Below are capsule reviews of my top picks from this year’s line-up.  Thematically, you can go in any direction your taste takes you.  This festival has something for everyone.  I am focusing on films that tell great and important stories that you aren’t likely to see screened anywhere else.   Stayed tuned to ARThound for full reviews in the coming days.

Jem Cohen, recipient of the 2013 POV Award at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 - May 9, 2013.  Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Jem Cohen, recipient of the 2013 POV Award at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 – May 9, 2013. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Museum Hours (Jem Cohen, (2012, USA 107 min) New York based filmmaker Jem Cohen, who over the past 30 years has made over 60 films, will be presented with this year’s POV Award (2013 Persistence of Vision Award). Cohen will appear in conversation before a screening of his latest feature film Museum Hours, a delicately-paced but psychologically vivid film where ideas and environment are as important as the actors.  The story captures a random encounter between Johann (Robert Sommer) a middle-aged museum guard at Vienna’s grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum, who, over the years, has nearly melded into his splendid surroundings and watches the visiting crowds looking at art works with detachment, and Anne (Canadian songwriter Mary Margaret O’Hara), a woman of roughly the same age who’s visiting Vienna out of duty—she tending to her dear ill cousin and coping with grief.  Sensing Anne’s isolation in the big city, a physically overwhelming sensation that reflects her inner turmoil, Johann breaks from his normal detachment and quickly bonds with her and keeps her company around Vienna.  The museum itself also becomes a character, revealing itself and its rich treasures and, in turn, stimulating a rich dialogue between these two seemingly very ordinary individuals who have a remarkably palpable rapport.  In much the same way that one can pass by or become completely engrossed in a painting, Johann and Anne come into sharp focus as individuals, discussing an accumulation of topics best summarized as the art of living life.  (POV Award, conversation and screening Sunday, April 28, 2013, 5:30 PM Kabuki)

The Act of Killing:  (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, Norway, England, 2012, 116 minutes) In this chilling and highly-inventive new documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), the filmmakers give us Indonesia, like it’s never been seen before.  In 1965-66, Suharto’s anti-communist purge following a failed coup attempt led to the slaughter of an estimated 500,000 people, alleged to be communists.  The pretext for this mass genocide was the assassination of six army generals on the night of October 1, 1965 by The Thirtieth of September Movement made up of some disaffected junior Indonesian Armed Forces Officers. Suharto launched a counter-attack and drove the Movement from Jakarta and then accused the Communist Party of masterminding the Movement.  He then went on to orchestrate a purge of all persons deemed Communists.  Under Suharto’s rule, anti-communism became the state religion, complete with sacred sites, rituals and dates and a sophisticated campaign of controlling the media and planting false stories presenting the opposition as murderers collectively responsible for exaggerated crimes against the State.  The mass killings were skipped over in most Indonesian history books and have received little introspection by Indonesians and comparatively little international attention.   Until Now.  The filmmakers brazenly invited the death squad leaders who carried out these killings, and are now celebrated heroes, to reenact the real life mass killing in the style of the movies they love best.  The result—“An extraordinary portrayal of genocide.  To the inevitable question: what were they thinking, Joshua Oppenheimer provides an answer. Its starts as a dreamscape, an attempt to allow the perpetrators to re-enact what they did, then something truly amazing happens.  The dream dissolves into night mare and then into bitter reality.” (Errol Morris)  (Screens Sat, April 27, 9:15 PM, Kabuki AND Thursday, May 2, 8:55 PM BAM/PFA)

A River Changes Course (Kalyanee Mam, Cambodia/USA 2012, 83 min, GGA Documentary Feature Contender):  If you’ve been to Cambodia, chances are you landed in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap via a transfer from Hanoi or Thailand and hit the breathtaking Angkor Wat, one of the most spectacular sites on earth, and then left.  No matter how little time you spent there though, it’s impossible to overlook the pace of development that is displacing traditional culture and the life and work patterns of the vast majority of Cambodians.  Kalyanee Mam’s new documentary, shot in gorgeous cinéma vérité style, is a moving and intimate portrait of the rapidly vanishing world of rural rice farmers and fisherman told through three Cambodian families who are struggling in the face of rapid and uneven modernization.  

A scene from Kalyanee Mam's award-winning documentary “A River Changes Course,” playing at SFIFF 56.  In a small village outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Khieu Mok must leave and find work in a garment factory to support her familyʼs mounting debt. But life in the city proves no better and Khieu finds herself torn between her obligations to send money home and her duty to be at home with her family. Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Kalyanee Mam’s award-winning documentary “A River Changes Course,” playing at SFIFF 56. In a small village outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Khieu Mok must leave and find work in a garment factory to support her familyʼs mounting debt. But life in the city proves no better and Khieu finds herself torn between her obligations to send money home and her duty to be at home with her family. Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

Mam spent many months deep in the Cambodian countryside capturing the daily rhythms of life there.  She built trusting relationships with and then filmed two female breadwinners and a fishing family, all challenged by the plight of diminishing yields and increasing costs of living.    Her thoughtful film was the first by a Cambodian to have its premiere at Sundance, where it was won the World Cinema Grand jury Awrd.  The Yale and UCLA Law School-educated cinematographer for the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, does not believe the answer to her native country’s problems lie in retaining all old traditions though.  This child of refugees who escaped Pol Pot’s hellish regime and ultimately landed in the U.S.. gives the path forward thoughtful consideration.   (Screens Saturday, April 27, 7 PM, Kabuki AND Monday, April 29 6:30 PM, BAM/PFA AND Sunday, May 5 1 PM, New People) 

Downpour (Ragbar): (Bahram Beyzaie, Iran, 1971, 128 min)  Every year SFIFF screens a recently restored classic of world cinema and this year it’s acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, playwright, stage director and producer Bahram Beyzaie’s 1971 debut feature Downpour. The film was the first Iranian feature to cast a woman in a role other than a prostitute or cabaret girl and ushered in a new filmmaking movement in Iran.  The story revolves around Mr. Hekmati, an educated teacher who is transferred to a school in the south of Tehran, a poor conservative area.  His pupils are unruly and he is forced to expel one of them.  The next day, the boy’s sister, `Atefeh, comes to the school and, thinking that Mr. Hekmati is the headmaster, protests the expulsion.  Another student sees them together and spreads rumors that Mr. Hekmati and `Atefeh are having a love affair.  While trying to set the record straight, he suddenly finds he really is in love with her.  Caught between the hyperactive imaginations of his students and the idle gossip of neighborhood busybodies, the idealistic Mr. Hekmati quickly finds himself at the center of controversy.  Soon all eyes in the community are on him.

A scene from Bahram Beyzai's “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the great Iranian films for its poetic approach to editing, dialogue and context.  Restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, the film screens at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance.   Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie’s “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the great Iranian films for its poetic approach to editing, dialogue and context. Restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, the film screens at SFIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

“The tone puts me in mind of what I love best in the Italian neorealist pictures,” writes Martin Scorsese, “and the story has the beauty of an ancient fable—you can feel Beyzaie’s background in Persian literature, theater and poetry.” This screening presents the film as restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory.  (Screens Sunday, April 28, 12:15 PM, Kabuki AND Sunday, May 5, 3:20 PM BAM/PFA) Bahram Beyzaie will attend and participate in a Q&A following the April 28th screening.

The Daughter (Alexander Kasatkin, Natalia Nazarova, Russia, 2012, 111 minutes)  Life in the unforgiving provinces is a well-explored theme in Russian literature and film.  Russian duo Natalia Nazarova and Alexander Kasatkin, (Listening to Silence, 2007) throw a serial killer into a provincial village to liven things up for naïve 16 year-old Inna (Maria Smolnikova) who’s strict widowed father (Oleg Tkachev) keeps her on a tight leash.  Enter the rebellious and fun vixen Masha (Yana Osipova), a girl from a slightly larger town, who quickly educates Inna about alcohol, sex and how to have fun.  Also new to the village is the family of an Orthodox priest, brimming with traditional Christian virtues and values, and Inna falls for the priest’s son, Il’ia (Igor’ Mazepa).  Meanwhile a serial killer is on the prowl and the suspense builds as those close to Inna are killed and implicated.  Filmed in Elat’ma and Kasimovo, two small villages in Russia’s Riazan’ region, the film’s evocation of the slowed rhythms of rural life, lingering traditions and modern impingements create a bleak post-Perestroika commentary, with the lingering question of what the role of the Orthodox church should be.  (Screens Friday, April 26, 6:15 PM and Sunday, April 28, 1 PM both at Kabuki AND Monday, May 6, 9 PM at BAM/PFA)

SFIFF56 DETAILS:   SFIFF 56 runs April 25-May 9, 2013.  5 Screening Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Theatre, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.  Event Venues (all San Francisco): Bimbos 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Avenue; Roe, 651 Howard Street; Rouge, 1500 Broadway; Ruby Skye, 420 Mason Street; Temple Nightclub and Ki Restaurant, 540 Howard Street

Tickets: $15 for most films with a variety of multiple screening passes.  Special events generally start at $20
More info: (415) 561-5000, www.festival.sffs.org

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tara Erraught—she came she conquered! Monday, April 22, 8 a.m.—Green Music Center 2013-14 Subscription Tickets go on sale to the public

Her career was launched with an unexpected debut, replacing an ailing colleague and scoring great acclaim as Romeo in Bellini’s “I Capuleti e i Montecchi” at Bavarian State Opera. The rest is history.  26-year-old Irish-born mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught has elated critics and audiences ever since.  Today’s recital at Weill Hall included songs by Dvořák, Respighi, Brahms, Wolf, Handel and Rossini.  She was last in this season’s fabulous opera line-up, part of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Vocal Arts Series, which included eight soloists.

Her career was launched with an unexpected debut, replacing an ailing colleague and scoring great acclaim as Romeo in Bellini’s “I Capuleti e i Montecchi” at Bavarian State Opera. The rest is history. 26-year-old Irish-born mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught has elated critics and audiences ever since. Today’s recital at Weill Hall included songs by Dvořák, Respighi, Brahms, Wolf, Handel and Rossini. She was last in this season’s fabulous opera line-up, part of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Vocal Arts Series, which included eight soloists.

For those who missed mezzo Tara Erraught’s recital today at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall, she was FABULOUS.  The young Irish-born mezzo is blessed with a huge expressive voice, blissful tone and a radiant style that enchanted the audience through two encores.  Erraught sang rarely performed songs by Ottorino Respighi and Hugo Wolf as well as Brahms, Handel and Rossini—she explained that the common thread was their engrossing stories.  The repertoire was varied and performed in German and Italian, giving a good opportunity to hear her impressive range as well as linguistic dexterity.  In the second half,  Handel’s “Dopo notte: from Ariodante and Rossini’s “Una voce poco fa” from Barber of Seville, were so enthralling that you could have heard a pin drop as the audience reveled in her dynamic and colorful voice accelerating into divinely executed trills.   This was my first time hearing her live and this repertoire and the acoustics of Weill Hall combined to create the perfect vehicle for her to display what’s so special about her singing.   She topped off the afternoon with an encore that included “Danny Boy” and the rapt audience immediately began sniffling and wiping away the tears.  What a joy to experience a young singer at the top of her game, something we’ll brag about years from now. 

Erraught’s ascent has been rapid, so much so that when the programmers at Green Music Center booked her, it was solely on the basis of her acclaim for jumping in with five-days’ notice to perform Romeo in a new production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Bavarian State Opera.  She nailed it.  Since then, she’s been booked with debuts in several continents.  She is scheduled for a second North American recital tour in 2014, so you may be able to catch her then.  

In all, the GMC’s talent spotting radar has proved impeccable and that’s in large part due to Robert Cole whose connections are golden.  The inaugural season brought well-known delights—Joyce DiDonato, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, and Alison Krauss—and introduced some top world musicians less familiar in these parts—Spanish world-music singer Buika and Mexican-American singer and composer Lila Downs. 

Now is the time to lock in tickets for the second season. Tomorrow at 8 a.m. (Monday, April 22, 2013), subscription tickets go on sale for the 2013-2014 season.

Green Music Center’s 2013-14 MasterCard Performance Series Season:   

Six preset subscription packages are available for purchase at 15% off single ticket prices. Four of these packages are classically focused, featuring an assemblage of instrumental, choral, orchestral, and vocal performances. Two packages separately consist of jazz and world music offerings.

Subscriptions have already been offered to high-level patrons, followed by current subscribers and MasterCard cardholders.  On Monday, subscription tickets will be made available to the general public. ARThound checked with the GMC box office just before they closed on Friday and there are still plenty of great seats to be had, except for Renée Fleming, the season opener.

Opening Night Celebration, Sunday, September 15, 2013—Reminiscent of last fall’s inaugural festivities, this year’s season opener is global celeb soprano Renée Fleming, one of the world’s most beloved vocalists.  The unique rear wall of Weill Hall will be open to the terraced lawns and offers expanded seating for 5,000 additional outdoor patrons. There is very limited inside hall seating for this special performance. The only way to secure a ticket is to buy either a set subscription to one of the six pre-set series and purchase the concert as an add-on OR as part of the “Pick 6” package which allows patrons to select any six performances from the season lineup at a discount of 10% off single ticket prices.

Festivities will continue throughout the month of September with two additional Indian summer concerts utilizing the outdoor seating of Weill Lawn, beginning with world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman on Sept. 21, and followed by jazz legend Herbie Hancock on Sept. 28.

ORCHESTRAL:

Orchestral headliners of the season include the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in March, The English Concert performing Handel’s Theodora, Venice Baroque Orchestra with rising star counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, and returning holiday favorite Handel’s Messiah by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale.

VOCAL:

Acclaimed sopranos Jessye Norman, Ruth Ann Swenson, and Deborah Voigt are featured in a phenomenal vocal lineup, that also includes baritones Bryn Terfel in October and Florian Boesch in May, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau on piano. “An Afternoon of Opera” in March pairs operatic sensations Leah Crocetto and David Lomeli, accompanied by Weill Hall’s resident orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony.

ISTRUMETNAL:

An array of award-winning instrumentalists is intertwined throughout the twenty- three concert season, beginning with a return performance by Chinese superstar Lang Lang. The season also features fellow pianists Garrick Ohlsson and Richard Goode, as well as acclaimed violinist Hilary Hahn, and a performance by The Takács Quartet.

JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC:

Six jazz and world music concerts showcase an impressive range of artistry, including Portuguese fado artist Mariza, Spanish flamenco sensation Estrella Morente, the distinguished Silk Road Ensemble, the inspirational Bahia Orchestra Project, and rising jazz stars Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

Descriptions of all packages and purchase options are at: www.gmc.sonoma.edu

Package prices for three-concert sets range from $78 to $204 and four-concert bundles range in price from $138-$336. The “Pick 6” package allows patrons to select any six performances from the season lineup at a discount of 10% off single ticket prices. SSU students receive a 50% discount on all tickets (limit one per student per event) and SSU faculty and staff receive a 20% discount (limit two per employee per event).

Ticket purchases can be made online at www.gmc.sonoma.edu, or, over the phone with the Sonoma State University Box Office at 866.955.6040. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm.

Single tickets will go on sale this summer.

ADDITIONAL PROGRAMMING:

 Programming in addition to the MasterCard Performance Series includes a full season by Weill Hall’s resident orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony, led by music director Bruno Ferrandis and performing seven triple-sets of classical works and a variety of family and youth concerts.

The Grammy award-winning San Francisco Symphony returns to Weill Hall for a second year, featuring four concerts led by Michael Tilson-Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, Alexander Barantschik, and Charles Dutoit.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Chamber Music, Classical Music | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A.C.T.’s “Stuck Elevator,” a new musical-theatre-opera hybrid that will make you want to take the stairs, through April 28, 2013

In “Stuck Elevator,” which has its world premiere at A.C.T., Julius Ahn is Chinese deliveryman Guāng who gets stuck in an elevator for over three days and starts to hallucinate.  The musical-theatre-opera hybrid runs April 4 – 28, 2013, at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne

In “Stuck Elevator,” which has its world premiere at A.C.T., Julius Ahn is Chinese deliveryman Guāng who gets stuck in an elevator for over three days and starts to hallucinate. The musical-theatre-opera hybrid runs April 4 – 28, 2013, at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne

If you’ve ever been stuck in an elevator, the memory never leaves you. In 2005, a 35 year-old Chinese-food deliveryman, Ming Kuang Chen, an immigrant from Fujian province who owed over $60,000 to human traffickers, was trapped in an elevator for 81 hours. Just after he had dropped off a $15 delivery, his elevator, an express lift, stalled out between the fourth and third floors of a 38 floor Bronx high-rise. Talk about being “boxed in”—despite a complete lack of food and water, he was terrified to push the emergency alarm because he was an undocumented immigrant and feared the consequences of being found by authorities even more. His 81 hour ordeal is the basis of Stuck Elevator, a gripping 81 minute musical hybrid by composer Byron Au Yong and librettist, playwright and hip hop poet Aaron Jafferis, which has its world premiere at A.C.T. (American Conservatory Theater).  Obie Award winner director, Chay Yew (currently artistic director of Victory Gardens Theatre), transforms Chen’s traumatic ordeal into a mesmerizing musical of solo and ensemble performances.   Ranging from opera to energizing doses of hip-hop, the music richly captures his physical and mental collapse as well as the symbolic journey of the displaced immigrant in our society.  The songs, all sung in English, have Chinese supertitles and address his memories of his wife and son in China as well as his isolation and stress as an expendable worker in the U.S., omnipresent in our society yet virtually invisible as an individual.  Stuck Elevator runs through April 28, 2013.

Young and Jafferis’s story opens with Chinese food delivery man, Guāng (光), standing at the elevator door, celebrating his good fortune at having made a $15 delivery which yielded a generous tip.  He leveraged everything he had just to get to the States and all he earns isn’t enough to make even a small dent in what he owes to Snake Man, his trafficker—$60,000.  

Julius Ahn delivers a thoroughly engrossing Guāng, a gentle, seemingly honest and hardworking delivery man who, through no fault of his own, was trapped long before he got stuck in the elevator.  His predicament is better than it was in China but as an undocumented worker who doesn’t speak English, he’s living the dark side of the American dream, where the climb up is precarious.   His dreams to bring his wife and son to the States are fanned by frequent phone calls to them in China where he sugar coats the reality of his situation.  Remarkably,  Stuck Elevator opened the very day (April 16th) that our Senate’s “Gang of Eight” revealed a much-anticipated (estimated 1,500 page) comprehensive immigration reform package whose main provision creates a quick path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.    

Julius Ahn as Guāng, Marie-France Arcilla as Míng and Raymond J. Lee as Wáng Yuè in “Stuck Elevator,” playing April 4 – 28, 2013 at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Julius Ahn as Guāng, Marie-France Arcilla as Míng and Raymond J. Lee as Wáng Yuè in “Stuck Elevator,” playing April 4 – 28, 2013 at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Ahn/Guāng carries the show—he’s the only actor who never leaves the stage.  The rest—Marie-France Arcilla, Raymond J. Lee, Joseph Anthony Foronda and Joel Perez—take on multiple roles playing Guang’s family and close associates.   Ahn, a classically trained operatic tenor (Madame Butterfly at Nashville Opera; Turandot at Seattle Opera), delivers solos in a range of styles seamlessly.  He also performs evocative ballads with Marie-France Arcilla (wife Míng) that convey the genuine love the couple share. 

Overall, Stuck Elevator has the energy and feel of a musical you’d see on Broadway  and is a perfect example of the musical theatre hybrid that opera houses and theatre companies alike are experimenting with.  (San Francisco Opera has engaged Francesca Zambello to direct a grand scale production of Show Boat as part of its 2014 fall season.)   Complementing the singing is A.C.T.’s highly creative use of its space—singers perform from the balcony and even come down the aisles, making the songs even more engaging.  At one point when Guāng and Míng exchange letters, they launch paper airplanes across the stage and out into the audience, a simple but clever representation of air mail.  

Daniel Ostling’s stark set is in perfect tune with the drab misery of Guāng’s life. The elevator is a steel open frame box that, in an instant, becomes his cage.  It rises up and down on steel posts but most of the movement in this production is mental—the personalities and demons Guāng conjures as he passes time waiting to be found.

 Kate Freer’s enormous video projections are visible through the elevator’s open walls, illustrating the eerie but rich dialogue between Guāng and his inner demons.  One thing that fascinates about these painterly projections, reminiscent of the early work of pioneering video artist Tony Oursler, is the way in which they awaken emotions.  A particularly compelling projection is a blown up portrait of Guāng’s face which dominates the background as he writhes powerless on the elevator’s floor, compelling us to really see him as an individual.  And that is the journey of this production, coming to a place where we can relate to Guāng’s plight.

Joseph Anthony Foronda as El Elevator and Julius Ahn as Guāng in “Stuck Elevator,” playing April 4 – 28, 2013 at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Joseph Anthony Foronda as El Elevator and Julius Ahn as Guāng in “Stuck Elevator,” playing April 4 – 28, 2013 at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Later, when Guāng melts down and his demons actually come to life, things start to get too busy. When he, in a state of hallucination, does actual battle with a silvery alien robot, or a giant fortune cookie appears urging him to pull a fortune out of her head, the production leers off course to the farcical or absurd, distracting from his very real and poignant emotional journey.  If there’s a weak link in this production this is it—it goes too far.   

While the story is set in the U.S., the writers missed the opportunity to give a overview of the enormity of the global problem—rapid modernization is almost always at the expense of the work force.  Chinese workers, particularly migrant workers, lead lives of extraordinary hardship to offer their children a way out of poverty and are often confronted with a series of choices that all lead to undesirable outcomes, hence the urgency to get to America.  Once here, of course, the reality is often far from the dream.  Guāng again becomes a nameless cog in a wheel, toiling day and night to chaise an elusive dream that, more often than naught, includes more hazards than rewards.  The elevator is indeed “stuck.”

CAST: Julius Ahn (Madame Butterfly at Nashville Opera; Turandot at Seattle Opera) as Guāng. The following actors play multiple roles, with their main rle listed—Raymond J. Lee (Anything Goes and Mamma Mia! on Broadway) as Wáng Yuè (王越), Guāng’s 8-year-old son; Marie-France Arcilla (Working at Off-Broadways’ 59E59 Theaters; Sondheim on Sondheim at the Cleveland Playhouse) as Míng (明), Guāng’s wife; Joel Perez (In the Heights , 1st national tour; Fun Home at the Public Theater) as Marco, the wisecracking Mexican deliveryman; and Joseph Anthony Foronda (Pacific Overtures and Miss Saigon on Broadway) as Zhōng Yi (忠佚), Guāng’s brother-in-law.

CREATIVE TEAM: scenic designer Daniel Ostling (Endgame and Play and Once in a Lifetime at A.C.T.; Clybourne Park on Broadway); costume designer Myung Hee Cho (Lackawanna Blues at A.C.T.; Emotional Creature at Berkeley Rep); lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols (Endgame and Play at A.C.T.; Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway and Wishful Drinking on Broadway); video designer Kate Freer (Bullet for Adolph at New World Stages; P.S. Jones and the Frozen City); and sound designer Mikhail Fiksel (Black n Blue Boys at Berkeley Rep; In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) at St. Louis Repertory). 

InterACT Programming for Stuck Elevator: InterACT events are presented free of charge to give patrons a chance to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theatre.

Audience Exchanges:  Sunday, April 21, at 2 p.m. | Wednesday Apr. 24, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Learn firsthand what goes into the making of great theatre. After the show, join A.C.T. on stage for a lively onstage chat with the cast, designers and artists who develop the work onstage.

Wine Series: Tuesday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Raise a glass at this wine-tasting event featuring leading sommeliers from the Bay Area’s hottest local wineries.

PlayTime: Saturday, April 27, 12:30 p.m.  Before this matiness performance, get hands on with theatre and the artists who make it happens at the interactive preshow workshop.

Details:  Stuck Elevator runs through April 28, 2013 at American Conservatory Theater, 405 Geary Street, San Francisco.  Performances are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. most Wednesdays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. most Sundays.  Tickets: $20 to $90, phone 415.749.2228 or visit www.act-sf.org

Up Next at A.C.T. — National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch makes its highly anticipated Bay Area premiere May 9, 2013 at The Drill Court at the Armory Community Center, located in San Francisco’s Mission District, a space used as a National Guard facility from 1914 until 1976.  Based on interviews with soldiers who served in Iraq in Scotland’s 300-year-old Black Watch regiment, this powerful depiction of war splices together choreographed marches and Scottish ballads with searing video news footage, capturing war from the perspective of those on the ground—what it really means to be part of the war on terror and what it means to make the journey home again.  Through June 9, 2103.

A.C.T. wraps its 2012-13 season with a new production of Tom Stoppard’s rich comedy Arcadia.  In pursuit of a major literary sensation, two obsessive modern-day scholars piece together the volatile and passionate events that took place centuries earlier.  This enchanting story moves between the 19th century and the present through a series of love stories.  Characters from both eras discover connections, unearth mysteries and unravel hidden truths. May 16 – June 9, 2013.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 16th Sonoma International Film Festival wraps today: ARThound recommends “Rebels with a Cause” and “Project Censored”

This evening, the curtain closes on the 16th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, which has brought  5 nights and 4 days of nearly nonstop screenings— 105 new films from more than 30 countries— with great gourmet food and wine.   Here are two films screening today that ARThound recommends without reservation.  They will connect you to your community, your planet and fire you up to go out and start changing the world!

Rebels With A Cause (U.S., 2012, 74 min):  We who are blessed to live in the Bay Area know how special the communities we live in are.  This valiant documentary connects us with our legacy of progressive thinking and activism.  Produced by locals Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto, who have collaborated on critically-acclaimed documentary and narrative films for the past 25 years, Rebels With A Cause documents the extraordinary efforts of several local citizens who saved the lands of the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area from development.  The film has its long-awaited world premiere at the 2012 MVFF to sold-out screenings and won the Audience Favorite Award for Best Documentary.  The coastal cinematography is stunning, making it an essential to see on the big screen.  With both filmmakers in attendance, and an enthusiastic local crowd, this is a festival experience not to be missed.

In the 1950’s, when California was the nation’s fastest-growing state, the prevailing vision for the coast was one of development—an extension of suburban housing developments with an eight-lane freeway connecting the Richmond Bridge and Point Reyes and marinas and hotels covering Bolinas Lagoon, Limantaur Estero and Tomales Bay.  At the time, most people assumed agriculture in the region was dead and the county’s dairymen and ranchers would become rich selling their land to real estate developers and move their operations elsewhere.   A handful of activists came together to awaken their neighbors, local farmers, and officials to the threat of over-development and the need to preserve open space.  Passionately, tirelessly, they raised support for conservation over time, successfully battling the most powerful opponents of their day in big industry and government.  Their efforts resulted in an 80 mile-long park that supports open space, recreation, agriculture and wildlife and shaped the environmental movement as we know it today, ultimately leading to a system of 14 National Seashores as part of the National Park Service.

“Rebels With A Cause” has it world premiere at the 35th Mill Valley Film Festival. Produced by Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto, the film traces the efforts of extraordinary local citizens who saved the lands of the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area from development.

Narrated by three-time Academy Award nominee Frances McDormand, Rebels includes a montage of news and television clips and a series of fascinating cameos and interviews, including former Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall; local legend, Gary Giacomini, of the Marin County Board of Supervisors who fought development tooth and nail; Katy Miller Johnson, widow of Congressman Clam Miller and mother turned activist; Amy Meyer, author of New Guardians for the Golden Gate: How America Got a Great National Park; and the Ellen Strauss of the famed Strauss Family Creamery, whose Tamales Bay dairy adapted pioneering practices and ultimately became the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi.   The film is living proof that people with vastly different visions and backgrounds can come together and achieve profound change be it from a kitchen table or in Congress.”Rebels With A Cause” was produced in partnership with KRCB, Channel 22, the PBS affiliate for Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties, so it will ultimately be presented nationally on PBS stations.  The film was inspired by the books of naturalist John Hart, The Wilderness Next Door and Farming on the Edge, and conservationist Dr. Martin Griffin, Saving the Marin-Sonoma Coast. (Screens: Sunday, April 14 at noon at MacArthur Place)

Sonoma County real estate professionals Doug Hecker (left) and Chris Oscar spent six years making the documentary “Project Censored: The Movie,” which has its world premiere at SIFF.

Sonoma County real estate professionals Doug Hecker (left) and Chris Oscar spent six years making the documentary “Project Censored: The Movie,” which has its world premiere at SIFF.

 Project Censored The Movie! Ending the Reign of Junk Food News: We all know and joke about the farcical state of our news media. Since 1976, the very vital Sonoma State-based media watchdog group, Project Censored (PC), has sought to uncover the real agendas of corporate media by publishing an annual list of the top censored stories. Now there’s a thoughtful documentary, by former PC Sonoma State University student and Star editor Doug Hecker and longtime PC supporter Christopher Oscar, which features original interviews about PC and media censorship and PC’s longstanding efforts to expose important stories that are rarely—if ever—reported by corporate media. The 58 minute film captures luminaries Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Greg Palast, Oliver Stone, Daniel Ellsberg, Peter Kuznick, Cynthia McKinney, Nora Barrows-Friedman, John Perkins, Jonah Raskin, and others. Several PC affiliated faculty and students also participate including Dr. Carl Jensen, PC’s former director and Professor Mickey Huff, its current director. (Screens:  Sunday, April 14, 3 p.m., Burlingame Hall)

Determined to break the grip that junk food news has on the American people, two Sonoma County fathers, both with longstanding affiliations to Sonoma State University, uncover the Corporate media’s true agenda.  Project Censored The Movie! Ending the Reign of Junk Food News takes an in depth look at what is wrong with the news media in the US today and highlights the exceptional and important work of Sonoma State’s Project Censored (PC) and its commitment to media literacy education as an antidote to propaganda and censorship.

Closing Night: The festival closes tonight with the North American Premiere of A Monkey on My Shoulder (À coeur ouvert), directed by Marion Laine (A Simple Heart) and starring Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Venezuelan superstar Édgar Ramírez (Carlos), as cardiac surgeons who have two passions: their jobs and each other. When Mila unexpectedly becomes pregnant, the prospect of a baby undermines the balance of their relationship. Javier’s drinking becomes uncontrollable and they spiral downwards from unbridled passion to rage. (Screens Sunday, April 14, 6:30 p.m., Sebastiani Theatre)

Details: the Sonoma International Film Festival runs April 10-14, 2013, in Sonoma, CA. Eight screening venues are all within walking distance of the central town plaza. Street parking is ample.

Ticket Information:   If you are interested in attending a single screening at the festival–tickets are $20 in advance and $15 rush at the door, CASH–don’t dally!  It all ends this evening.  Detailed pass information at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/film-festival-passes.html

All passes can be picked up at the Festival Box Office located on the East side of City Hall on Sonoma Plaza beginning Wednesday, April 10 at 1:00 PM. The box office will be will be open 4/10 (1:00 – 9:00PM); 4/11-4/13 (9:00 AM – 9:00 PM) & 4/14 (9:00AM – 5:00 PM).

The full list of films and scheduling is at  www.sonomafilmfest.org.  “To be announced” screening slots, will be announced by 10 a.m. this morning, ofering a second chance to see some of the festival’s most popular films.

 

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vamos Al Cine! The Sonoma International Film Festival’s contemporary Latin cinema programming starts Friday

Venezuelan director Hernán Jabes (award-winning director of Macuro) adrenaline-fueled crime drama “Piedra, papel o tijera” (“Rock, Paper, Scissors”) was Venezuela’s official submission to the 2013 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language film.   A betrayal is uncovered, leading the paths of two families at opposite ends of the economic spectrum to cross.  Ten-year-old Luis is the unwitting catalyst to a dizzying downward spiral of violence in the overpopulated neighborhoods of Caracas.  Extortion, murder, drug trafficking and several emotionally volatile personalities combine to produce a thrilling and unpredictable outcome in a brutal game of chance.  (Screens Friday, April 12 3:15 p.m., Burlingame Hall and Saturday, April 13, 5:30 p.m., La Luz)

Last year, the Sonoma International Film Festival’s celebrated its 15th anniversary with “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta,” featuring the best of cinema “en español.”  For the first time in Sonoma Valley, both Latino and film festival audiences enjoyed a selection of award-winning films from Mexico to Bolivia.  “La Q” was a huge hit, bringing the beloved Havana Eva, with the presence of lovely Prakriti Maduro, and Hidalgo, the historic epic from Mexico, starring this year’s Spotlight Award honoree, Demián Bichir.   SIFF also celebrated the coming-of-age of Janeth and Lupita with a real Quinceañera party.

Director Javier van de Couter will lead an audience Q&A following Friday's p.m. screening at the Sebastiani Theatre.

Director Javier van de Couter will lead an audience Q&A following Friday’s 9 p.m. screening at the Sebastiani Theatre.

This year, SIFF presents its inagural “Vamos al Cine” program, featuring 9 films all shown with English subtitles.  A rich cinema blend with flavors from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain with an emphasis in Mexican cinema, “Vamos al Cine” will be presented both at La Luz Center’s Booker Hall, in the heart of the Latino neighborhood, and in the festival’s main Plaza venues.

“We hope to bring pride to our Latino community in our award-winning cinema and inspiration with the presence of Spotlight Award recipient Damián Bichir, ” said Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, who organized last year’s “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta” and this year’s “Vamos Al Cine” programming.

Highlights include:

Mia from Argentina will feature an engaging Q&A with its director, Javier van de Couter, coming from Buenos Aires. This narrative feature, which is also part of SIFF LBGT programming, is about the struggles of the transgender community. Alé is a trans woman who lives in disparity in a shanty town of Buenos Aires, surviving by collecting recyclables for cash. She discovers the diary-suicide note of another trans woman named Mia, leading her to become entwined with Mia’s grieving family. The film offers a tender and realistic window into humanity-regardless of whether one is queer or straight. (Screens Friday, April 12, 9 p.m., Sebastiani Theatre)

Director Carlos Osuna will lead audience discussions after the Sat and Sun screenings of his "Fat, Bald, Short Man" ("Gordo, calvo y bajito)

Director Carlos Osuna will lead audience discussions after the Sat and Sun screenings of his “Fat, Bald, Short Man” (“Gordo, calvo y bajito)

Fat, Short and Bald (Gordo, calvo y bajito) (2011), from Colombia, will also have its director Carlos Osuna in attendance. Using bright primary colors and an innovative animation technique, where the faces of the real actors are in animated form, this clever and touching story is about a man who lives a gray life thinking that by being fat, short and bald there is no chance for him… until a man just like him, loved by everyone and very assertive, becomes his boss. (Screens Saturday, April 13, noon, La Luz and Sunday, April 14, 1:45 p.m.Women’s Club)

The films:   Acorazado (México), Borrando la Frontera  (México/EE.UU), En Fuera de Juego (Spain, Argentina), Gordo, calvo y bajito (Columbia), Hecho en China (México), MIA (Argentina), Miss Inc. (Canada), Piedra papel o tijera (Venezuela), La Cebra (México).

Prior to last year’s Quinceañera Film Fiesta, there had been Spanish films in the programming but not a specific programming segment,” said Mendoza-Carruth. “I made a personal commitment to make of film a bridge that would connect our Anglo and Latino communities in Sonoma Valley. We were very successful at doing so last year. Latinos that had never been to a Festival party at the Plaza were dancing celebrating Janeth and Lupita’s real quinceañera, Anglos who had never seen a Spanish film in the Springs area, came to the Charter school to enjoy a selection of the best 15 films in contemporary Latin cinema. Thanks to the generous support of the MacMurray Foundation, we are continuing this year the celebration of the values, contributions and diversity of our Latino community by the Vamos al Cine program.”

 

Miss Inc. (Canada, Venezuela, 2011, Dir. Orlando Arrigada) With a dozen Miss Universe and Miss World titles, Venezuela is the undisputed global beauty pageant champion. After oil, pageants are the country’s second most important industry.  Although 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, many women spend a fortune on their appearance, and the pursuit of the Miss Venezuela crown is followed with near-religious fervor. Exploring the backstage world of the Venezuelan beauty industry, Orlando Arriagada’s documentary asks: Is beauty manufactured at any cost?

April 11, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sonoma International Film Festival starts this evening, offering a stellar line-up of cinema, food and wine— all in gorgeous Sonoma

In Gilles Legrand’s “You Will Be My Son” (“tu seras mon fils”), Niels Arestrup plays a distinguished vintner in France's St-Emilion region, who is about to be awarded the Legion of Honor.  He’s deeply attached to his vineyard and, now that he is aging, is obsessed with passing it all down to posterity.  Who will that be—his son or another protégé?   This story is richly honed with lush cinematography of one of France’s most fabled wine producing regions.  One of three films opening the 1th Sonoma International Film Festival.

In Gilles Legrand’s “You Will Be My Son” (“tu seras mon fils”) Niels Arestrup plays a distinguished vintner in the St-Emilion region, who is about to be awarded the Legion of Honor. He’s deeply attached to his vineyard and, now that he is aging, is obsessed with passing it all down to posterity. Who will that be—his son or another protégé? This story is richly honed with lush cinematography of one of France’s most fabled wine producing regions.

This evening, the curtain rises on the 16th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, pairing 5 nights and 4 days of nearly nonstop screenings— 105 new films from more than 30 countries— with great gourmet food and wine.  Highly anticipated by its loyal film-savvy audience, who see an average of 5 or more films each, this festival takes place in eight venues within walking distance of Sonoma’s charming town square.  Known for its laid back vibe and exceptional “back-lot” tent serving passholders the finest local wines and gourmet offerings, this sweet festival has a lot to offer both locals and destination visitors. 

Stay-tuned to ARThound for festival coverage.

SONOMA SPOTLIGHT AWARD:  This year SIFF will honor Golden Globe-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker and actor Demián Bichir at a Tribute event taking place on Saturday evening, April 13.  Mary-Louise Parker has enjoyed a diverse career in film, television and on stage.   She was most recently seen in the hit action-comedy Red opposite Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. Her upcoming feature films include Red 2, R.I.P.D., Jamesy Boy and Behaving Badly.  Parker is widely known for her starring roles in such films as Fried Green Tomatoes, Boys on the Side, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Reckless, The ClientNaked in New YorkBullets Over Broadway and Longtime Companion.  Parker also won a Golden Globe and received four SAG Award nominations for her portrayal as Nancy Botwin in the hit Showtime television series Weeds and also received a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for her role in the TV mini-series Angels in America.  She is also a highly acclaimed stage actress and was a Tony Award nominee for Prelude To A Kiss, Reckless and Proof, winning the Tony in 2001 for Proof.  She was most recently seen in Dead Man’s Cell Phone and the Broadway revival of Hedda Gabler.  

Mary-Louise Parker (left) as drug dealing Nancy and Demián Bichir as Tijuana mayor, jilted husband and devoted daddy, Esteban Reyes, on the Showtime TV series “Weeds” which ran 8 seasons.  Parker and Bicher will be honored with a Spotlight Award at SIFF on Saturday, April 13, 2013.  Image: courtesy Showtime

Mary-Louise Parker (left) as drug dealing Nancy and Demián Bichir as Tijuana mayor, jilted husband and devoted daddy, Esteban Reyes, on the Showtime TV series “Weeds” which ran 8 seasons. Parker and Bicher will be honored with a Spotlight Award at SIFF on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Image: courtesy Showtime

Demián Bichir received an Academy Award, SAG Award and Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Actor for his portrayal of an undocumented worker in A Better Life.  He also starred in Steven Soderbergh’s 2008 two-part epic Ché as a young Fidel Castro, as well as Oliver Stone’s Savages, both with Benicio del Toro. He is known to television audiences for his role on the Showtime series Weeds. His will next star in the Paul Feig comedy The Heat, Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills and has the lead role in the new FX series The Bridge.

“Both Parker and Bichir exemplify such amazing traits as actors,” says SIFF Executive Director Kevin McNeely, “We are thrilled to celebrate their contribution to independent film…and even more excited to be able to reunite this Weeds duo.” (The tribute is 6 to 7 p.m. and the tribute dinner is 7 to 9 p.m., Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Building.)

The Film Line-Up:

Opening Night:  The festival kicks off on Wednesday evening with three screenings, all around 6:30 p.m:  Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman (2012) at the Sebastiani Theatre; Gilles Legrande’s You Will Be My Son (Tu Seras Mon Fils) (2010) at Burlingame Hall and Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur’s The Deep (Djúpiô), Iceland’s official foreign-language Oscar entry, at The Women’s Club.  Thematically, you can go in any direction your taste takes you.  This festival has something for everyone.  I am focusing on films that tell great stories that you aren’t likely to see screened anywhere else and the opportunity to see stars and directors in live conversation.  Most of the films screen twice, so with careful planning you can see most of them.  

Director Ariel Vromen and star Ray Liotta will both attend the Sebastiani Theatre screening of The Iceman (2012), a drama thriller based on the life of notorious New jersey Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski, starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans and James Franco.  Based on Anthony Bruno’s novel “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer,” the film tracks Kuklinski as he falls in love, gets married and goes from editing together porno movies to becoming a father by day and a hit man for low-level mafia man Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta) by night.  

Epicurean Delights: Food and wine is where SIFF stakes its claim.  This year, there are four films, two set in France and two in Italy, which address winemaking and one, Sikh Formaggio, which has Sikh immigrants from India making fine Parmigiano-Reggiano in Northern Italy’s struggling Parmesan cheese industry while attempting to keep their identity and beliefs in a foreign land.

Gilles Legrande’s You Will Be My Son (Tu Seras Mon Fils)(2010), from France, is a modern and sensitive retelling of the parable of the prodigal son set in the beautiful Saint-Émilion region. The story is set around a prestigious winemaker, the subtle transmission of his knowledge to a successor and traditions within the world of wine. (Screens Wednesday, April 10, 6:45 p.m. Burlingame Hall and Saturday, April 13, 6 p.m. Sebastiani Theatre)

Veteran documentarian David Kennard’s new film A Year in Burgundy documents Burgundy’s touch-and-go harvest of 2011 which brought unprecedented spring heat waves and storms. Along with Martine Saunier, a famous wine importer, born in Burgundy, but living in the Bay Area, he follows seven wine-making families— Domaine Leroy, Morey-Coffinet, Denis Mortet, Perrot-Minot, Bruno Clavelier, Michel Gay et Fils and Dominique Cornin— through the course of an entire year. Some of these families go back four generations. Saunier, who has sold wine for 40 years, knows the families personally. The film is not about showing how wine is produced industrially. Instead, the duo wanted to show how winemakers’ lives unfold, working every day in the vineyard, in the cellar, and in private life. The result is a sophisticated, even poetic film about the very heart and soul of this fabled wine region. (Screens once—Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m. at the Sebastiani Theatre)

Lo Zucco: The Wine of the Son of the King of the French, a U.S. Premiere from Italian director Lidia Rizzo about the Duke of Aumale, known as the King of the French, the richest Frenchman of the late 18th Century. When exiled from France, he settled in Sicily where he applied the agricultural precepts of Virgil. Who would have imagined that the great chef Vatel’s closely-guarded secret of Chantilly cream would lead to the discovery of the long-lost secret of le vin de Zucco? The Duke’s famously pure wines are no longer produced but the Zucco farm still exudes the charm of its incredible, romantic history. (Screens Thursday, April 11, 3:15 p.m. and Sunday, April 14, 1:30 p.m., both at Vintage House.)

Cannubi: A Vineyard Kissed by God: Spanning a mere 15 hectares (37 acres) in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, the 250 year-old Cannubi vineyard is world renowned. The highly sought-after plot of land grows the Nebbiolo grape, producing Barolo – one of the best red wines of Italy. Determining Cannubi’s precise boundaries is a very complicated and emotionally-charged issue. Conflict between producers over the vineyard’s true designation continues as wineries seek to have the coveted “Cannubi” wording on their labels. James Suckling, one of the world’s top wine critics, visited Cannubi to talk with the winemakers involved. This 37 minute short chronicles their thoughts, feelings and passion toward their craft – and the vineyard that fuels it all. (Screens Thursday, April 11, 3:15 p.m. and Sunday, April 14, noon, both at Vintage House) 

Sonoma County real estate professionals Doug Hecker (left) and Chris Oscar spent six years making the documentary “Project Censored: The Movie,” which has its world premiere at SIFF.

Sonoma County real estate professionals Doug Hecker (left) and Chris Oscar spent six years making the documentary “Project Censored: The Movie,” which has its world premiere at SIFF.

Of Local Interest:

Project Censored The Movie! Ending the Reign of Junk Food News:  We all know and joke about the farcical state of our news media.  Since 1976, the very vital Sonoma State-based media watchdog group, Project Censored (PC), has sought to uncover the real agendas of corporate media by publishing an annual list of the top censored stories.  Now there’s a thoughtful documentary, by former PC Sonoma State University student and Star editor Doug Hecker and longtime PC supporter Christopher Oscar, which features original interviews about PC and media censorship and PC’s longstanding efforts to expose important stories that are rarely—if ever—reported by corporate media.  The 58 minute film captures luminaries Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Greg Palast, Oliver Stone, Daniel Ellsberg, Peter Kuznick, Cynthia McKinney, Nora Barrows-Friedman, John Perkins, Jonah Raskin, and others.  Several PC affiliated faculty and students also participate including Dr. Carl Jensen, PC’s former director and Professor Mickey Huff, its current director.  (Screens:  Friday, April 12, 6:30 p.m.,Sebastiani Theatre, and Sunday, April 14, 3 p.m., Burlingame Hall)

Rebels With A Cause, (U.S., 2012, 74 min): We of blessed zip codes, Marin and Sonoma County, know how special the communities we live in are. This valiant documentary, produced by Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto, who have collaborated on critically-acclaimed documentary and narrative films for the past 25 years, connects all Bay Area residents with our legacy of progressive thinking and activism.  Rebels With A Cause documents the extraordinary efforts of several local citizens who saved the lands of the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area from development.  Their efforts resulted in an 80 mile-long park that supports open space, recreation, agriculture and wildlife and shaped the environmental movement as we know it today, ultimately leading to a system of 14 National Seashores as part of the National Park Service.  Narrated by three-time Academy Award nominee Frances McDormand, the film had its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival last fall and won the audience favorite award for Best Documentary.  The coastal cinematography is stunning, making it an essential to see on the big screen. (Screens: Thursday, April 11 pm at 3:15 p.m., Sebastiani Theatre and Sunday, April 14, noon, MacArthur Place)

Two other environmental films, both narrated by Robert Redford are noteworthy— Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West is Mark Decena’s important documentary about the urgent threat facing the once-mighty Colorado River and exploring a new water ethic. (Screens Friday, April 12, 6:15 p.m., Woman’s Club)   A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet, directed by Mark Kitchell, is a big-picture exploration of the environmental movement’s evolution of grass-roots and global activism.  It examines the Sierra Club’s battle to halt dams in the Grand Canyon; Love Canal residents’ struggle against 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals; Greenpeace’s heroic campaign to save whales and baby harp seals; Brazilian rubbertappers’ fight to save the Amazon rainforest; and the battle to acknowledge and address climate change. (Screens Thursday, April 11, 6:45 p.m., Saturday, April 13, 11:45 a.m.. both at Vintage House)  

VAMOS AL CINE PROGRAM: Last year, as a celebration of SIFF’s 15th anniversary, Claudia-Mendoza-Carruth organized “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta,” featuring the best of cinema “en español.” “La Q’s” success marked the fact that for the first time in Sonoma Valley, both Latino and film festival audiences enjoyed a selection of award-winning films from Mexico to Bolivia.  This year’s “Vamos al Cine” program presents films from various countries.  Highlights include: 

Mia from Argentina will feature an engaging Q&A with its director, Javier van de Couter, coming from Buenos Aires.  This narrative feature, which is also part of SIFF LBGT programming, is about the struggles of the transgender community.  Alé is a trans woman who lives in disparity in a shanty town of Buenos Aires, surviving by collecting recyclables for cash. She discovers the diary-suicide note of another trans woman named Mia, leading her to become entwined with Mia’s grieving family. The film offers a tender and realistic window into humanity-regardless of whether one is queer or straight. (Screens Friday, April 12, 9 p.m., Sebastiani Theatre)  

Fat, Short and Bald (Gordo, calvo y bajito) (2011), from Colombia, will also have its director Carlos Osuna attending.  Using bright primary colors and an innovative animation technique, where the faces of the real actors are in animated form, this clever and touching story is about a man who lives a gray life thinking that by being fat, short and bald there is no chance for him… until a man just like him, loved by everyone and very assertive, becomes his boss.  (Screens Saturday, April 13, noon, Women’s Club) 

“Dreamscapes,” is Wolfram Hissen’s new documentary on contemporary artist Stephen Hannock, that has its West Coast premiere at the 16th Sonoma International Film Festival.  The film explores Hannock's artistic process, following him from the opening of Northern City Renaissance (commissioned by Sting) to openings in Venice and New York to his studio in Williamstown, MA.  In 2011, Hissen brought “Christo & Jeanne-Claude: The Running Fence Revisited” to SIFF.   “Dreamscapes” screens Thursday, April 11 and Saturday, April 13.

“Dreamscapes,” is Wolfram Hissen’s new documentary on contemporary artist Stephen Hannock, that has its West Coast premiere at the 16th Sonoma International Film Festival. The film explores Hannock’s artistic process, following him from the opening of Northern City Renaissance (commissioned by Sting) to openings in Venice and New York to his studio in Williamstown, MA. In 2011, Hissen brought “Christo & Jeanne-Claude: The Running Fence Revisited” to SIFF. “Dreamscapes” screens Thursday, April 11 and Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lunafest—shorts by, for and about women:  A traveling film festival of award-wining shorts LUNAFEST is an integral part of the festival sponsored by Luna, the makers of those fabulous tasty and nutritional bars.  This year’s program features 9 films which will make you laugh, tug at your heartstrings and motivate you to make a difference in your community.  Incredibly diverse in style and content, LUNAFEST is united by a common thread of exceptional storytelling – by, for and about women. The main beneficiary is the Breast Cancer Fund, is dedicated to eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer.  (Friday, April 12, 7:15 p.m. Sonoma Valley Museum of Art)

Closing Night:  The festival closes with the North American Premiere of A Monkey on My Shoulder (À coeur ouvert), directed by Marion Laine (A Simple Heart) and starring Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Venezuelan superstar Édgar Ramírez (Carlos), as cardiac surgeons who have two passions: their jobs and each other.  When Mila unexpectedly becomes pregnant, the prospect of a baby undermines the balance of their relationship.  Javier’s drinking becomes uncontrollable and they spiral downwards from unbridled passion to rage.  (Screens Sunday, April 14, 6:30 p.m., Sebastiani Theatre)

Wine, Food and “Backlot”

Anyone who has been to Sonoma knows that this is a community that savors life along with the finest of food and wine.  “The Backlot,” the festival’s culinary hub, is a one-of-a-kind hospitality tent on the North side of Sonoma’s City Hall that is open to all pass holders.  Here, they can mingle in a chic lounge environment while enjoying the best wine country vintages and culinary delights.  You’ll also notice at many of the screenings that staff is on hand giving out generous samplings of treats like yogurt, ice cream and snack bars

Details:  the Sonoma International Film Festival runs April 10-14, 2013, in Sonoma, CA.  Eight screening venues are all within walking distance of the central town plaza.  Street parking is ample.

 Ticket Information:  SIFF offers several pass options, ranging from “One Day Movies Only” passes ($60) to VIP Star Passes ($900), offering the full festival experience—first entry to all films and panels, all receptions and after parties, VIP and industry mixer events, dinners, Gala and Awards ceremony.   Individual tickets may also be purchased on a stand-by basis at the last minute for $15 cash at the screening venue.  Detailed pass information at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/film-festival-passes.html

All passes can be picked up at the festival Box Office located on the East side of City Hall on Sonoma Plaza beginning Wednesday, April 10 at 1:00 PM.  The box office will be will be open 4/10 (1:00 – 9:00PM); 4/11-4/13 (9:00 AM – 9:00 PM) & 4/14 (9:00AM – 5:00 PM).  

The full list of films is below or at www.sonomafilmfest.org

Screening Locations:

Sebastiani Theatre – 476 First St. East
New Belgium Pub at The Woman’s Club – 574 First Street. East
Mia’s Kitchen at Sonoma Community Center – 276 E. Napa Street, Room 109
Murphy’s Irish Pub – 464 First Street East
Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room – 389 Fourth Street East
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art – 551 Broadway
Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Hall – 126 First Street West

Vintage House– 264 First Street East

April 10, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sonoma International Film Festival starts tomorrow, offering a stellar line-up of cinema, food and wine— all in gorgeous Sonoma

In Columbian director Carlos Osuna’s “Fat, Bald, Short Man” (Gordo, calvo y bajito), Osuna transforms a traditional story about a middle-aged man ridiculed for being different into a delightful film using bright primary colors and a loose animated style. The film is part of the Sonoma International Film Festival's new "VAMOS AL CINE" program which starts Friday, April 11, and includes 9 contemporary gems of Latin cinema.

In Columbian director Carlos Osuna’s “Fat, Bald, Short Man” (Gordo, calvo y bajito), Osuna transforms a traditional story about a middle-aged man ridiculed for being different into a delightful film using bright primary colors and a loose animated style. The film is part of the Sonoma International Film Festival’s new “VAMOS AL CINE” program which starts Friday, April 11, and includes 9 contemporary gems of Latin cinema.

This Wednesday, the curtain rises on the 16th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, pairing 5 nights and 4 days of nearly nonstop screenings— 105 new films from more than 30 countries— with great gourmet food and wine.  Highly anticipated by its loyal film-savvy audience, who see an average of 5 or more films each, this festival takes place in eight venues within walking distance of Sonoma’s charming town square.  Known for its laid back vibe and exceptional “back-lot” tent serving passholders the finest local wines and gourmet offerings, this sweet festival has a lot to offer both locals and destination visitors.  Stay-tuned to ARThound for a full festival preview and individual reviews.  

In addition to its special events—Opening Night, SONOMA SPOTLIGHT AWARD (honoring Mary-Louise Parker and actor Demián Bichir), and Closing Night—the festival offers 3 delightful art-related films that you will not be able to see elsewhere. 

“Dreamscapes,” is Wolfram Hissen’s new documentary on contemporary artist Stephen Hannock, that has its West Coast premiere at the 16th Sonoma International Film Festival.  The film explores Hannock's artistic process, following him from the opening of Northern City Renaissance (commissioned by Sting) to openings in Venice and New York to his studio in Williamstown, MA.  In 2011, Hissen brought “Christo & Jeanne-Claude: The Running Fence Revisited” to SIFF.   “Dreamscapes” screens Thursday, April 11 and Saturday, April 13.

“Dreamscapes,” is Wolfram Hissen’s new documentary on contemporary artist Stephen Hannock, that has its West Coast premiere at SIFF and screens Thursday, April 11 and Saturday, April 13, 2013.

Dreamscapes (USA, France, Germany, 2011, 37 min) is Wolfram Hissen’s new documentary looking behind and beyond the canvasses of contemporary artist Stephen Hannock.   The film, which has its West Coast premiere at SIFF, explores Hannock’s artistic process, following him from the opening of Northern City Renaissance (commissioned by Sting) to openings in Venice and New York to his studio in Williamstown, MA.  Hannock’s commanding landscapes, often massive in scale, are brought to life through shots of him in process and through reflections of those who have followed his remarkable career.  

In 2011, Hissen brought Christo & Jeanne-Claude: The Running Fence Revisited to SIFF. (Screens Thursday, April 11, 9:30 a.m., Burlingame Hall and Saturday, April 13, 2:45, Vintage House) 

The Cover Story—Album Art (USA, 111 min):  What would you give to hear Yoko Ono describe what provoked her to pose naked, front and back, with John Lennon for the cover of the now iconic “Two Virgins”?  Mill Valley filmmaker Eric Christensen has that story and many more in his highly entertaining documentary which presents the untold stories behind some of the classic covers of the vinyl era.  It’s really hard to get some of these famous musicians to reveal something that hasn’t been previously explored but talking about their album covers proved a magical and revelatory topic.  Yoko Ono, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Bob Weir, Steve Earle, John Mellencamp, Sammy Hagar, Huey Lewis, Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Mark Volman of the Turtles, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick.  Those are just the people who appear in the first five minutes.  Yoko Ono also discusses the cover for “Seasons of Glass,” which featured the bloody lenses removed from Lennon’s face the night he was shot to death. (Screens: Thursday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m., Murphy’s Pub and Saturday, April 13, 9 p.m., Vintage House)

In Carlos Osuna’s “Gordo, calvo y bajito,” Antonio Farfán is a middle-aged man working in a notary office who believes that his dull life is the result of his looks: being fat, bald and short.  The film’s animation is in perfect tune with its theme, there’s a devastating power in the simple drawings of the characters and the realism of the backgrounds and the urban landscape.

In Carlos Osuna’s “Gordo, calvo y bajito,” Antonio Farfán is a middle-aged man working in a notary office who believes that his dull life is the result of his looks: being fat, bald and short. The film’s animation is in perfect tune with its theme, there’s a devastating power in the simple drawings of the characters and smeared realism of the backgrounds and the urban landscape.

Fat, Bald. Short Man (Gordo, calvo y bajito) (Spanish, English French, 2011, 91 min):  Using bright primary colors and an innovative rotoscoping animation technique, where the faces of the real actors are bone white and in animated form, this clever and touching story is about a man in Bogotá who, audiences round the world have related to.  Antonio lives a timid and gray life, one of pain and isolation, thinking that by being fat, short and bald there is no chance for him… until a man just like him, loved by everyone and very assertive, becomes his boss. Director Carlos Osuna, from Colombia, will lead a discussion afterwards. .(Screens Saturday, April 13, noon, Women’s Club)

VAMOS AL CINE PROGRAM: Last year, as a celebration of SIFF’s 15th anniversary, Claudia-Mendoza-Carruth organized “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta,” featuring the best of cinema “en español.” “La Q’s” success marked the fact that for the first time in Sonoma Valley, both Latino and film festival audiences enjoyed a selection of award-winning films from Mexico to Bolivia. This year’s “Vamos al Cine” program presents 9 films in Spanish with English subtitles from various Latin countries.

Details:  the Sonoma International Film Festival runs April 10-14, 2013, in Sonoma, CA.  Eight screening venues are all within walking distance of the central town plaza.  Street parking is ample.

 Ticket Information:  SIFF offers several pass options, ranging from “One Day Movies Only” passes ($60) to VIP Star Passes ($900), offering the full festival experience—first entry to all films and panels, all receptions and after parties, VIP and industry mixer events, dinners, Gala and Awards ceremony.   Individual tickets may also be purchased on a stand-by basis at the last minute for $15 cash at the screening venue.  Detailed pass information at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/film-festival-passes.html

All passes can be picked up at the festival Box Office located on the East side of City Hall on Sonoma Plaza beginning Wednesday, April 10 at 1:00 PM.  The box office will be will be open 4/10 (1:00 – 9:00PM); 4/11-4/13 (9:00 AM – 9:00 PM) & 4/14 (9:00AM – 5:00 PM).  

The full list of films is below or at www.sonomafilmfest.org

Screening Locations:

Sebastiani Theatre – 476 First St. East
New Belgium Pub at The Woman’s Club – 574 First Street. East
Mia’s Kitchen at Sonoma Community Center – 276 E. Napa Street, Room 109
Murphy’s Irish Pub – 464 First Street East
Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room – 389 Fourth Street East
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art – 551 Broadway
Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Hall – 126 First Street West

Vintage House– 264 First Street East

April 9, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finally! Elīna Garanča makes her Bay Area debut at Weill Hall, Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Latvian mezzo soprano, Elīna Garanča, makes her West Coast debut at Weill Hall on Tuesday, April 8, 2013.  Photo: courtesy Elīna Garanča.com

Latvian mezzo soprano, Elīna Garanča, makes her West Coast debut at Weill Hall on Tuesday, April 8, 2013. Photo: courtesy Elīna Garanča.com

She’s graced the stages of the world’s top opera houses, notably stunning at the Met three seasons ago with her break-out role as Carmen.  She was set to have her West Coast debut with San Francisco Opera in “Werther,” fall season 2010, but unexpectedly cancelled.  The closest we’ve come to seeing her up close was catching her riveting Sesto in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD simulcast of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito (December 1, 2012) at the Rialto Cinemas—wowing us with her opening “Parto, parto” and her Act II aria “Deh per questo istante.”  Finally!  Latvian mezzo soprano, Elīna Garanča, makes her West Coast debut in recital on at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall on Tuesday, April 9—her only West Coast appearance this year.  What a coup for GMC!  But it’s been quite a year for mezzos—Stephanie Blythe and Joyce Di Donato gave unforgettable performances earlier in the season.

Garanča’s rich mezzo, musicianship, and compelling stage portrayals have established her as one of the world’s newest opera stars.  In 2005, she locked in a coveted exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.  Now, at 36, she’s in her prime.  Along with her last best-selling solo album, Romantique (2012)(works by Berlioz, Donizetti, Gounod, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Vaccai), she has been releasing a series of glam-shots that accentuate her striking beauty and sensuality.  And like, Joyce DiDonato, who wowed us with her amazing red gown, Garanča also loves to dress up, so get ready for some amazing dresses on Tuesday!

On April 26, Deutsche Grammophon will release its recording of Metropolitan Opera’s 2009 production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola in which she sings Angelina, the opera’s central role.  Critic Steve Smith raved in a New York Times review (5.7.2009) that she was “technically flawless: her voice lustrous and even throughout her range and at any dynamic; her delivery, silken and seemingly effortless.”

Reviews of this particular performance run hot and cool. She was in recital this past Saturday at Carnegie Hall, with the same program she’s doing for GMC.  Critics praised her voice, precision and preparation but pointed to her lack of connection with the audience.  Forging that intimate connection is the factor that immortalizes a technically great singer, which Garanča already is.  The warm, intimate, and relaxed atmosphere of Weill Hall should go a long way towards taking care of that.  It’s been an elixir for the divas who’ve appeared there so far and we’ve experienced them at their finest.

Garanča’s program centers on love—a mother’s love for her newborn child, the early pangs of romance,  the solidarity of a great marriage, and the warm contentment of a bond that has matured over many years.  She’s selected three of the masters of German lieder: Robert Schumann, Alban Berg, and Richard Strauss.  The cornerstone for the recital is Schumann’s  Frauenliebe und – leben, which she said in an interview with Carnegie Hall is her current favorite lied cycle.

Program—

Robert Schumann

“Widmung”
“Der Nussbaum”
“Jemand”
“Zwei Lieder der Braut””

Frauenliebe und – leben”

INTERMISSION
Alban Berg
“Sieben frühe Lieder”

Richard Strauss
“Leises Lied”
“All mein Gedanken”
“Ach Lieb, ich muss nun scheiden”
“Meinem Kinde”
“Allerseelen”
“Heimliche Aufforderung”

Elīna Garanča introducing the romantic repertoire of her latest CD, “Romantique”

Elīna Garanča sings Mozart’s “Parto, ma tu ben mio” from “La celmenza di Tito”

Elina Garanca sings Gypsy-themed songs, introducing “Habanera,” her 2010 solo album.  

Details:  Elīna Garanča performs April 9, 2013 at 8 p.m. at Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park.  Ticket purchases can be made online at www.gmc.sonoma.edu, or, over the phone with the Sonoma State University Box Office at 866.955.6040.  Regular business hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm.  The Box Office re-opens one hour before the performance.

Parking: As you enter the Sonoma State University campus from the Rohnert Park Expressway, there are multiple parking lots immediately to your right. Parking Lots L, M, N and O are available for parking for GMC performances. Parking is $10.  Have cash ready.

April 8, 2013 Posted by | Classical Music, Green Music Center, Opera | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Napa Valley Collects”— the Napa Valley Museum offers a rare peek at art from Napa Valley’s exclusive collectors

Jan Shrem of Clos Pegase Winery with painting "Pegasus" by Odilon Redon.  Photo: courtesy Napa Valley Museum

Jan Shrem of Clos Pegase Winery with painting “Pegasus” by Odilon Redon. Photo: courtesy Napa Valley Museum

In addition to its treasured vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Napa Valley is also home to some exclusive private art collections.   Exquisite artworks that have been quietly hanging in Napa County homes for years, including pieces from Marc Chagall, Alexander Rodchenko, Helen Frankenthaler, Wayne Thiebaud, and Joan Brown, will be the focus of “Napa Valley Collects,” at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, from April 4th through May 26th 2013.

The exhibition features 65 artworks from 30 Napa Valley collectors and represents 53 artists.  Fifty-six of these artworks are installed in private homes, so this is the public’s only chance to view them.  Many of the donors are celebrated  patrons of the arts in general—Margrit Mondavi, Jan Shrem, Francis and Eleanor Coppola, Norman and Norah Stone, Ronald and Anita Wornick, Peter and Kirsten Bedford, and more.  Some are lesser-known, like photographer Jana Waldinger, who has an important trove of Rodchenko estate prints.  Several years in gestation, the exhibition is guest curated by Ann Trinca, of Napa, and is presented in partnership with Arts Council Napa Valley and Visit Napa Valley.  A special preview party, with many of the collectors in attendance, will kick off Napa Valley Collects this Thursday, April 4, from 6-8 p.m., and will feature select Napa Valley wines, live music from the Johnny Smith Group, and culinary treats from Rutherford’s celebrated Auberge du Soleil.

I had the pleasure of meeting curator Ann Trinca, while researching a magazine article on Napa Valley collectors and can attest to the difficulty and delicacy of forging fruitful relations with these high profile residents who are very busy and protective of their privacy. Having built or inherited empires earlier in their lives, their concerns are now turned towards legacy and many of them want to be taken seriously as collectors and benefactors who are building a cultural foundation for future generations.  Trinca was allowed into some of the most exquisite homes in the Napa Valley, which she described as a “delirious thrill,” and was largely given free rein to choose artworks from the lenders’ outstanding collections.  She chose pieces that were “reflective of their taste and collecting journey.”

Enrique Chagoya, "What Appropriation Has Given Me (Fritas yDieguitos)" Collection of Austin and Sara Hills

Enrique Chagoya, “What Appropriation Has Given Me (Fritas y
Dieguitos)” Collection of Austin and Sara Hills

Mondavi, Shrem, and Coppola are household names in the Wine Country–you may have visited their wineries and seen portions of their collections but their private collecting habits have not been fully explored.  The exhibition will share some “love at first sight” stories about these lenders and their artworks and the special relationships that they formed with the artists in their collections.  It will also introduce some less visible but important collectors to the public such as Ron and Anita Wonick, of St. Helena and San Francisco and Peter and Kirsten Bedford.

The Wornicks are not household names but, over the past 30 years, they have amassed one of the most important conceptual craft collections in the country, earning the respect of prominent museums worldwide for their efforts to elevate these finely executed works to the level of fine art.  For Napa Valley Collects, the couple lent two works by Northern Irish glass artist Clifford Rainey.

The Wornicks have a longstanding appreciation for Rainey’s work.  His “Shy Boy” (2005) was one of 250 artworks from their conceptual craft collection— wood, ceramics, glass, fiber, and metal artworks—that they bequeathed to the Boston Fine Arts Museum.    Ron Wornick, who founded the The Wornick Company, amassed part of his fortune through creating and mass-producing MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) a next-generation of individual combat meals or C-rations for soldiers which revolutionized the way soldiers ate in the field.  The rest came when he sold his company.  Wornick, a woodworker himself, has a special passion for wood.  He and his wife are enthusiastically nurturing and supporting wood artists through purchases, endowments, and fellowships and pushing to get wood its long due recognition in the country’s leading museums.   The Wornicks own Seven Stones winery in St. Helena, named after Richard Deutch’s mammoth sculpture, “Seven Stones”  which marks the entrance to the property.

Robert Arneson, "Six Beers," 1991, glazed ceramic, 16 x 11 x 7 inches, loaned from a private collection.  Arneson was born in Benecia, CA, in 1930 and is responsible for transforming ceramics into a recognized medium of contemporary art and for creating highly confrontational artworks.  Starting in the 1960’s, he was a pivotal in the Funk Art movement and was dubbed the father of the ceramic funk movement. Photo: courtesy Napa Valley Museum

Robert Arneson, “Six Beers,” 1991, glazed ceramic, 16 x 11 x 7 inches, loaned from a private collection. Arneson was born in Benecia, CA, in 1930 and is responsible for transforming ceramics into a recognized medium of contemporary art and for creating highly confrontational artworks. Starting in the 1960’s, he was a pivotal in the Funk Art movement and was dubbed the father of the ceramic funk movement. Photo: courtesy Napa Valley Museum

Peter and Kirsten Bedford, of Walnut Creek and Napa Valley,  have lent three works by Roy DeForest.   The Bedfords both have business backgrounds.  He was a leading property developer in California and spread out to cable television, radio and restaurants and she was the publisher of Bedford Arts from 1986 to 1991 and is very active on museum boards. They both attended Stanford and supported its Cantor Arts Center with the “Bedford Sentinels,” a trio of bronze works by artist Beverly Pepper situated at the corner of Serra and Galvev Streets on campus.  The Bedfords also endowed Walnut Creek’s Bedford Gallery, the largest community-based visual arts facility between the Bay Area and Sacramento.  This contemporary art space is housed in the City of Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts.

In the contemporary art world, collectors and philanthropists Norman and Norah Stone, of San Francisco and Napa Valley, are fabled for Stonescape, their fabulously engineered art cave nestled near Calistoga, where they host art happenings for a select and highly international crowd.  Norman Stone is the son of Clement Stone, the billionaire insurance magnate and self-help author.  The Stones are Trustees of SFMOMA and collaborate with New York art advisor and collector Thea Westreich.  They have lent an early Matthew Barney piece to the exhibition, piece they purchased well before Barney captured he attention of the art world.

Their last happening “Politics is Personal,” in 2012, addressed the notion of political viewpoint.  Artworks by Joseph Beuys, Jeff Koons, Catherine Opie, Richard Prince, Taryn Simon, Piotr Uklanski, and others explored topics that are inherently political—gender, alienation, freedom of thought, war and violence.  “Our art addresses upsetting issues and I don’t feel good about them, but they exist and should not be shirked,” said Norman Stone (quote extracted from 3.2.2012 article  Politics is Personal by Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services.)  Rubbing elbows with the Stones is always delightful.

Several of the exhibition participants preferred to remain anonymous.  One of these generously lent two Picasso lithographs that will be prominently displayed.

“Exploring these amazing Napa Valley Collections, it was encouraging to learn that many patrons collect locally,” said Trinca.  “Out of the fifty-four artists included in the exhibition, forty of them are California artists.  As the self-proclaimed “artaholic” Rene di Rosa believed, the art of our region defines our local culture.  In part, this exhibition helps describe the Napa Valley through the passions of its residents.”

“We are thrilled to host an exhibition of this caliber,” said Kristie Sheppard, the museum’s executive director since 2011.  “We’ve pulled together something unique and substantial that will delight our patrons and visitors.”   Sheppard noted that 300 people had already purchased tickets to Thursday’s special opening party.

Collectors:  Thomas Bartlett, Kirsten & Peter Bedford, T. Beller, Joanne & Ronald Birtcher, Dale & Marla Bleecher, Lee & Moira Block, Stacey & Bob Bressler, Chandra Cerrito & Lewis de Soto, Liz Christensen & Richard Meese, Eleanor & Francis Ford Coppola, di Rosa, Hess Collection, Austin & Sarah Hills, Angela Hoxsey, Dick and Ann Grace, Margrit Mondavi, Val and Bob Montgomery, Louise Newquist, John Nyquist, Marden Plant, Michael Polenske, Felicia and Chuck Shinnamon, Norman and Norah Stone, Janna Waldinger and Anita & Ron Wornick

Artists Represented:  Robert Arneson, Thomas Bartlett, Peter Beard, Robert Bechtel,  Joan Brown, Squeak Carnwath, Marc Chagall, Enrique Chagoya, Jennifer Clark (Skonovd), Ronald Davis, Wiilard Dixon, Roy DeForest, Stephen DeStaebler, Veronica di Rosa, Helen Frankenthaler, Robilee Frederick, Susan Freedman, Viola Frey, Gade, David Gilhooly, Charles Ginnever, Ransome Holdridge, Tom Holland, David Ireland, William Keith, Alphonse-Maria Mucha, Arne Nyback, Nathan Oliveira, Deborah Oropallo, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Rodchenko, Lordy Rodriguez, Tsherin Sherpa, Dale Snyder, Wayne Thiebaud, Earl Thollander, Cy Twombly, Peter VandenBerge, Peter Voulkos, William T Wiley, Ken Jan Woo

Arts in April™:    Napa Valley Collects is a participant of Arts in April™, the valley’s third annual, month-long tasty blend of wine and local culture that offers winery art installations, pop-up exhibitions and tastings—sponsored by Arts Council Napa Valley and Visit Napa Valley.

Details: The preview party for Napa Valley Collects is April 4, from 6-8 p.m.  Tickets are $100 and are available online (www.brownpapertickets.com/event/338822) or by phone (707.944.0500).  In addition to the exhibition, public programming will include gallery tours (free with the price of museum admission), on April 20th and May 18th, as well as a screening of film Art of the Steal on April 25th at 7p.m. Reservations are required.

Situated mid-valley in the historic town of Yountville, between St. Helena and Napa, Napa Valley Museum is located at 55 Presidents Circle in Yountville next to the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm. For more information visit www.NapaValleyMuseum.org.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment