ART hound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

The Sonoma International Film Festival turns 20 this year: the line-up celebrates wine, food and art and so do the parties—Wednesday, March 29 through Sunday, April 2, 2017

Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon in a scene from the historical drama, “The Promise,” which opens the 20th Sonoma International Film Festival Wednesday at Sonoma’s Sebastiani Theater. Actress Angela Sarafyan will be in attendance opening night. The sweeping romance, co-written and directed by Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda”), is set in the final days of the Ottoman Empire and follows a love triangle between Michael (Oscar Isaac), a medical student; Chris (Academy Award winner Christian Bales), a renowned American photojournalist; and Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), a sophisticated Armenian artist who both men fall for. Sarafyan plays the medical student’s wife from an arranged marriage. One of the most expensive independently financed films ever made ($100 million before tax concessions), the sumptuous drama deals directly with the Armenian genocide and is said to recall “Doctor Zhivago” and “Reds.” This year’s five-day festival features over 130 films, including independent features, docs, world cinema, shorts, student films AND parties. Image: courtesy IMDB

If you love great cinema, sampling world class food, wine and spirits from local artisan chefs, makers and vintners, it doesn’t get any better than the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  This beloved five-day festival has always the best parties of any film festival around, but, this year, a bottle runs through SIFF’s programming as well as its famed Backlot tent.  Eleven of the festival’s 130 films are tales of wine and gastronomy and the celebrities, criminals and unsung heroes from these universes.   The festival is dedicated to supporting independent filmmakers from around the world, and inspiring film lovers while plying them with food and wine.   There’s also Student Showcases,  the wonderful program of shorts from local high school film students which the festival supports enthusiastically.  All films are shown at seven intimate venues within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic plaza so there’s no driving, just meandering charming streets where roses, lilacs and irises are in glorious spring bloom.

ARThound’s top film and event picks:

The Turkish Way

Chef Joan Roca of the acclaimed restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca (center), in a scene from Luis González’s engrossing new food travelogue “The Turkish Way,” screening twice at SIFF 20. Image: BBVA Contenidos

On the heels of the immensely popular Cooking Up a Tribute (2015), which had last year’s SIFF attendees queuing excitedly in enormous lines,  director Luis González again teams with the Roca brothers—Joan, Josep and Jordi, owners of Catalonia’s Celler de Can Roca, Restaurant Magazine‘s Best Restaurant in the World honoree—to take a five-week tour across Turkey.   Their mission: to plunge into the diverse culinary cultures merging at this cradle of civilization.  Hot on the trail of new ideas for their own restaurant as well, the brothers engage with sommeliers, chefs and farmers from bustling Istanbul to the bucolic vineyards of Cappadocia and share a meal and chat  with the innovators of New Anatolian cuisine.  They discover an ancient nation on the cusp of a food revolution. (2016, 86 min) (Screens: Thurs, March 30, 11:45 am, Celebrity Cruises Mobile Cinema, and Fri, March 31, 9:15 am, Sonoma Veterans Hall Two)

Celebrity Cruises Mobile Cinema—the venue designation “CCMC” indicates Celebrity Cruises brand new mobile pop-up movie theater featuring a high definition projection and sound system, where guests can enjoy beverages, wine, truffle popcorn and enter to win great prizes, such as a luxurious cruise to the Caribbean for two.

The Distinguished Citizen (El ciudadano ilustre)

Oscar Martínez as author Daniel Mantovani in “The Distinguished Citizen,” Argentina’s foreign-language Oscar submission, screens twice at SIFF 20.

A favorite at last December’s International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba, Argentinian directing partners Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn’s latest comedy, El ciudadano ilustre, stars Oscar Martinez (Paulina) as a Noble Prize-winning Argentinean author who returns to the village of his birth for the first time in 40 years. Divided into five chapters, the film follows Daniel Mantovani (Martinez) from his spacious Barcelona villa to the modest hotel room booked for him in backwater Salas, Argentina, where he is to be honored with a medal and a full slate of cultural activities.  The scenes are played to maximum comedic effect with outstanding performances all around.  What makes the story work so well is that we can all relate to the long suppressed memories and emotions a visit back home can evoke.  It turns out that while Mantovani has been living a cosmopolitan life in Europe,  he’s taken all of his literary inspiration from Salas and the citizens of Salas have strong feelings about his depictions.  Mantovani shines as he explores his complex relationship with his roots and his past.  (2016, 117 min) (Screens: Thursday March 30, 1 pm, Sebastiani, and Sat, April 1, 12:30 pm, Sonoma Veterans Hall One.

Franca: Chaos and Creation

Photographer and filmmaker, Francesco Carrozzini, and his mother, Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of “Vogue Italia,” in a still from the documentary film, “Franca: Chaos and Creation” which was four years in the making. Image: Mission Media

Fashion films have become a documentary genre unto themselves.  When the subject at hand is Franca Sozzani, the fearless editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and the director is her son, Francesco Carrozzini, expect nothing short of art and an iconic framing of fashion history.  The groundbreaking shoots and themed issues that she engineered over the last quarter century in collaboration with photographer Steven Meisel transcended fashion. Domestic violence, plastic surgery, substance abuse, racism and environmental catastrophes are just some of the issues that Sozzani tackled in her work, often leading to criticism that social commentary had no place in the pages of a publication such as Vogue.  Sozzani believed in the power of the image – some Vogue Italias featured 50-page-long fashion shoots where the clothes were barely visible and subordinate to the overall composition of the photographs.   And Franca Sozani, well, there are moments when she reveals herself to her son in this intimate portrait, that only a son could have captured.  Sozzani passed in December 2016 at the age of 66.  (2016, 80 min) (Screens: Thursday, March 30, 3 pm, Sonoma Veterans Hall One and Friday, March 31, 2:30 pm, Sonoma Veterans Hall Two)

Afterimage

Boguslaw Linda as Polish artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski in Andrzej Wajda’s biopic “After Image.” Image: courtesy TIFF

Sadly, the Polish master, Andrzej Wajda (A Generation, Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds) died at age 90, in 2016,  just after completing Afterimage.  This biopic of the Polish avant-garde painter, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, Poland’s foreign language Oscar submission for 2016, is a story from Wajda’s own past, battling passionately for artistic expression in the vice-grip of state ideology and censorship.  Set in the dark years of Soviet rule, 1948 to 1952, the film tracks the highly-principled painter and handicapped (double amputee) professor Strzeminski, played by the masterful Boguslaw Linda (Blind Chance, Pan Tadeusz), as he battles the Socialist Realism movement in an attempt to advance his progressive art and inspire his students.  His activity as a solo artist and his participation in groups that he organized in the 1920s and 1930s (together with his wife, Katarzyna Kobro, and painter Henryk Stazewski) played a fundamental role in the history of 20th-century Polish art.  A man of great integrity and energy, Strzeminski was persecuted but refused to compromise.  The film’s title is borrowed directly from the painter’s famous series of paintings from 1948–1949.  It refers to persistent images, those optical illusions that continue to appear under one’s eyelids after staring at a reflective object. (2016, 98 min) (Screens:  Thurs, March 30, 9:15 am, Celebrity Cruises Mobile Cinema and Sat, April 1, 9:30 am, Sonoma Veterans Hall One)

Unleashed

A scene from Finn Taylor’s “Unleashed,” with Kate Micucci, screening twice at SIFF 20. (Image: courtesy Braveheart Films

 I wouldn’t be ARThound if I didn’t point out the festival’s dog-related flicks. What if your pets turned into full-grown men?  I couldn’t resist the wacky premise behind Finn Taylor’s Unleashed, which has a thirty-something software app designer Emma (Kate Micucci) settling into her life in San Francisco when her cat, Ajax, and her dog, Summit, disappear only to reappear in her life as full-grown men (Steve Howet and Justin Chatwin).  All their four-legged memories are fully intact and they vie for her affection in their very specific cat and dog styles.  This delightful film picked the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival’s Audience Favorite Award /US Cinema Indie.  (2016, 93 min) (Screens: Thurs, March 30 at 12 noon, Sonoma Veterans Hall One and Sat, April 1, 12 noon, Sebastiani)

Young Filmmakers

Don’t forget the student films!:  One of the festival highlights is the annual Student Showcases, films from Peter Hansen’s Media Arts Program students at Sonoma Valley High School (SVHS), screening twice this year. Since 2002, SIFF and its members have donated nearly $500,000 to SVHS’s Media Arts Program which opens doorways to creativity in the digital arts through filmmaking classes, animation, scriptwriting, film theory, and, most of all, storytelling.  The festival also supports media programs in the Valley’s two middle schools. (Student Showcase Screenings: Thursday, March 30, 10am to 12:30 pm, Sebastiani and Sunday, April 2, 3 to 5:30 pm, Sonoma Vets Hall One

Peter Hansen has selected SVHS senior Owen Summers’ stop action 6 min claymation film Magic Beans to be accepted into the Sonoma International Film Festival. In 15 years, only three student films from SVHS have been chosen as official SIFF selections. Owen is a senior at Sonoma Valley High School.  (Screens: Thurs, March 30 in Shorts Films Program, Vintage House, and Sunday, April 2, 9 am at the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Theatre (Andrews Hall).

SIFF Emerging Artist Award: This year, 18 year-old student filmmaker Kiara Ramirez will be honored with the festival’s first SIFF Emerging Artist Award.  Her six minute short, the first she has produced and directed, is the mini-doc, Detrás del Muro (Behind the Wall), a thoughtful and sharply edited human portrait of immigration issues was inspired by the rhetoric of last year’s primaries

Parties:  

New this year: you can attend parties without a pass for $50.

Emerald Party: A big bash on Thursday, March 30 celebrates several 20th anniversaries—SIFF’s, Sondra Bernstein’s the girl & the fig, and Tito’s Vodka.  Sondra’s celebrating by creating superb food for the party. Cake by Crisp Bake Shop and other birthday surprises will be in store.  An after-party continues at The Starling for signature craft cocktails and music with Ten Foot Tone.  Purchase $50 ticket here.

Taiwanese Night: On Friday, March 31, the Back Lot Tent is transformed into a lively Taiwanese Night Market, courtesy of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Purchase $50 ticket here.

Festival Awards & Celebration Party: Saturday, April 1, Walk the carpet and celebrate SIFF’s finest films at the Award Ceremony.  Following the awards, toast the winners with wine, cocktails, Lagunitas, food from the girl & the fig and live music with Loosely Covered. Purchase $50 ticket here.

SIFF 20 Details:

The 20th Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday, March 29 and runs through Sunday, April 2, 2016.  PASSES:  SIFF can be enjoyed at different levels and passes provide access to films, parties in SIFF Village’s Backlot Tent, after parties, receptions, and industry events and panels.  Currently, Cinema Passes are $275 for and Soiree Passes are $725.  All Cinema pass holders will have day access to the Backlot Tent in SIFF Village and all films.  Soiree pass holders will have day VIP area and evening party access and all films.  New this year:  exciting options for attending several screenings and individual parties without buying all-inclusive passes.  For information about festival passes, prices, and benefits visit sonomafilmfest.org.   SINGLE TICKETS:  A limited number of $15 tickets are available for each film screening.  These sell out rapidly, so purchase these in advance online at sonomafilmfest.org.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Dance, Film, Food, Jazz Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival─a feel-great extravaganza of film, food, wine and sprits─starts Wednesday in wonderful Sonoma

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, includes three films shot in Cuba. Bob Yari’s “Papa Hemingway in Cuba” (2015) covers Hemingway’s chaotic life on the island and his friendship with young Miami Herald journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who befriended Hemingway and his wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, in the 1950’s. The film premiered at this year’s Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana and was the first American production shot on the island since the trade embargo was imposed in 1960. The late Petitclerc was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and lived in Sonoma. Adrian Sparks is brilliant as Hemingway, capturing the vulnerability under the rage and bluster of this great genius in his last years. Image: courtesy HIFF

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, includes three films shot in Cuba. Bob Yari’s “Papa Hemingway in Cuba” (2015) covers Hemingway’s chaotic life on the island and his friendship with young Miami Herald journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who befriended Hemingway and his wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, in the 1950’s. The film premiered at this year’s Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana and was the first American production shot on the island since the trade embargo was imposed in 1960. The late Petitclerc was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and lived in Sonoma. Adrian Sparks is brilliant as Hemingway, capturing the vulnerability under the rage and bluster of this great genius in his last years. Image: courtesy HIFF

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) kicks off tonight at the historic Sebastiani Theatre with Norwegian director Joachim Tier’s family drama, Louder Than Bombs (2015) and a live “vertical dance performance” with members of the dynamic Bandaloop dance group performing choreographed moves from ropes on the Sebastiani’s roof.   Over the next 5 nights and 4 days, the festival will present over 100 films from two dozen countries and over 200 filmmakers from around the globe will attend.  Among this year’s treasures are three exciting films shot in Cuba whose stories are bound to inspire a trip to this delightful island before the big Western chain hotels devour the beach space and those beloved’57 Chevys are replaced with Toyotas.  One of these is the late journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc’s remarkable Papa Hemingway in Cuba, the first American production shot in Cuba since the 1960 trade embargo. This is the story of Hemingway and his experiences in Cuba, where he lived with his fourth wife, Mary, as told through the eyes Petitclerc when he was a young reporter at the Miami Herald.  And food!  Complementing its diverse and truly international program of independent cinema, SIFF offers a unique blend of world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners, making for an epicurean experience few film festivals in the world can match. This year, SIFF is offering a complementary tasting and pairing along with its two screenings of Cooking Up a Tribute which takes us on globe-trotting road trip with the fabled Catalonian eatery El Celler de Can Roca. Browse the program and then pounce─a limited number of $15 tickets are available for pre-purchase online for all films.

ARThound’s top picks for films and events─

 Viva

Héctor Medina plays Jesus, a young gay man who discovers the only time he is free from life’s burden is when he is on stage and performing as “Viva,” his mesmerizing alter ego. Image: HIFF

Cuban actor Héctor Medina plays Jesus, a young gay man who discovers the only time he is free from life’s burdens is when he is on stage and performing as “Viva,” his mesmerizing alter ego. Image: HIFF

You’d never guess that Viva, a touching portrayal of a young gay Cuban man’s struggle to find himself, was the work of Irish director Paddy Breathnach.  Directed and shot in Havana, with some very heavy-lifting from Cuban actors Héctor Medina and Jorge Perugorría, this beautiful story captures the yearning of Jesus (Medina), a young gay hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub for drag queens, to step out on stage and perform as a female. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García), Jesus finally gets his opportunity to perform and it awakens sometime vital within.  But when his estranged father Angel (Jorge Perugorría) abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down.  As father and son tussle over their opposing expectations of each other, Viva morphs into a love story with the two men struggling to understand each other and to reconcile as a family.  The drama, Ireland’s Oscar submission for Best foreign Language Film this year, also paints a rich portrait of street life in Havana and the divide between those Cubans who are embracing the coming changes and those who are battling to survive.  (Screens: Thursday, March 31, 9:15 PM and Saturday, April 2, 2:15 PM, both at Sebastiani Theatre)

Papa Hemingway in Havana

Giovanni Ribisi plays Miami Herald cub journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who finds a father figure in Ernest Hemingway in “Papa Hemingway in Cuba.” Petitclerc becomes incensed when he reads a review asserting that the only contribution that Hemingway made to the English language was one short sentence. He writes Hemingway in Havana to tell him that he had been inspired greatly by his writing and the letter leads to a great friendship between Petitclerc and the aging writer. Image: HIFF

Giovanni Ribisi plays Miami Herald cub journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who finds a father figure in Ernest Hemingway in “Papa Hemingway in Cuba.” Petitclerc becomes incensed when he reads a review asserting that the only contribution that Hemingway made to the English language was one short sentence. He writes Hemingway in Havana to tell him that he had been inspired greatly by his writing and the letter leads to a great friendship between Petitclerc and the aging writer. Image: HIFF

Bob Yari’s vital film tells the fabled story of Hemingway in Cuba through the eyes of the late journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc (Giovanni Ribisi), a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter and Sonoma resident. Papa’s backstory was long and difficult because the film was created during the embargo.  It took Yari two years to convince the US State Department and US Treasury to make an exception and he had to agree to a $100,000 spending limit for the cast and crew –unheard of for a Hollywood production.  On the Cuban side, Yari was required to submit the script to the government in Havana.  In addition to a fiery story that profiles two gifted writers who bond over fishing, the film features a stand-out performance by Joely Richardson who plays Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway.  The drama was shot in Hemingway’s home Finca Vigia and locations throughout Cuba including La Floridita and Ambos Mundos Hotel. (Screens: Thursday, 3/31 6:30 PM, Sebastiani Theatre and Saturday, April 2, 2:30 PM at Veterans Hall I)

Cooking Up a Tribute / A Taste of Film:

Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, owners of Girona’s famed El Celler de Can Roca, are the subject of “Cooking Up A Tribute,” a documentary by Luis Gonzalez and Andrea Gomez that screens twice at SIFF 19. Every year the festival outdoes itself with food, wine and spirits. This year, filmgoers will receive a complementary glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne with a carefully curated food tasting, which will bring the aromas and flavors of this food documentary to life. Image: SIFF

Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, owners of Girona’s famed El Celler de Can Roca and the subject of “Cooking Up A Tribute.” Every year, SIFF outdoes itself with food, wine and spirits. This year, filmgoers will receive a complementary glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne with a carefully curated food tasting, which will bring the aromas and flavors of this food documentary to life. Image: SIFF

The documentary Cooking Up a Tribute follows the famed Catalonian eatery El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain) as it boldly closes up shop and embarks on a five week global road tour─from Texas to Mexico to Colombia and Peru. The idea is to improvise with local ingredients to create unique tasting menus for each locale. Opened in 1986 by the Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi, El Celler de Can Roca holds three Michelin stars.  In 2013 and 2015, it was named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine.  Perhaps the best footage in this ambitious doc is shot tagging along with renowned sommelier/maitre d’ Josep Roca on a fascinating pre-exploratory journey where he nails down the places his team will visit.  Here’s your chance to watch agave being smoked to produce mescal in Oaxaca and to explore the seemingly infinite number of gorgeous Peruvian potatoes with names like “Bull’s Blood” and “Yellow Egg Yolk.” Free Food, Wine:  The festival’s Premiere Sponsor, Celebrity Cruises, will activate their onboard “A Taste of Film” multisensory experience at both film screenings and  filmgoers will receive a glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne with a carefully curated food tasting, which will bring the aromas and flavors of the food documentary to life. (83 min, 2015) (Screens Fri, April 1, 2:30 PM at Vintage House and Sunday, April 3, 3 PM at Vintage House with complimentary drink and tastings at the film.)

Gordon Getty: There will be Music

Gorden Getty will attend the Friday screening of Peter Rosen’s documentary “Gordon Getty: There will be Music,” at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival. Photo: courtesy Chicago Classical Review

Gorden Getty will attend the Friday screening of Peter Rosen’s documentary “Gordon Getty: There will be Music,” at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival. Photo: courtesy Chicago Classical Review

At 82, billionaire American composer Gordon Getty, industrialist  J. Paul Getty’s son from his fifth marriage, remains a dedicated music creator, economic theorist, vintner, venture capitalist, philanthropist and longtime supporter of our beloved San Francisco Symphony.  When your name is Getty, is it a help or hindrance being accepted as a serious composer?  Seasoned director Peter Rosen, who has produced and directed over 100 full-length films and television programs on the luminaries of the art world, captures Getty, the musician, at work and in candid conversation with fellow composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas about his creative process and vision.  He even captures a few of Getty’s endearing expletives─“Jeepers creepers!” and “Holy flying mackerel.”  Schooled at San Francisco’s Conservatory for Music in the early 1960’s, Getty studied music theory with Sol Joseph.  His business career and responsibilities as head of the Getty Foundation impinged on his time for composition and it wasn’t until the 1980s when Getty published his first work, The White Election, a song cycle on Emily Dickinson poems.  He’s actually spent decades of his life carefully working and honing his music and his oeuvre includes “Joan and the Bells,” “Plump Jack,” “Usher House,” “Poor Peter,” “Four Dickinson Songs,” “The White Election” and more─pieces that have been performed all over the world. (2015, 68 min) Screens Friday, April 1, 5:30 PM, Vintage House (Getty will be present) and Saturday, April 2, Andrews Hall, 2:30 PM

The Messenger:

The Indigo Bunting, a small songbird in the Cardinal family, sings with gusto. The male is all blue and looks like a slice of sky with wings. The plight of songbirds is the subject of Su Rynard’s documentary, “The Messenger,” which screens twice at the SIFF 19. Image: Su Rynard

The Indigo Bunting, a small songbird in the Cardinal family, sings with gusto. The male is all blue and looks like a slice of sky with wings. The plight of songbirds is the subject of Su Rynard’s documentary, “The Messenger,” which screens twice at the SIFF 19. Image: Su Rynard

The Messenger:  Making a documentary is a labor of love that often takes years to realize. To understand what was happening with global populations of songbirds, Canadian director Su Rynard and her team followed songbirds on three different continents through several seasons. The message of her riveting documentary is urgent─songbirds are disappearing and many species are in serious decline.  Changes in our world have brought utter catastrophe to theirs and soon they will be gone.  Each year, twice a year, songbirds embark on a dangerous and difficult migratory journey.  Every species has its own story to tell but the resounding commonality is that songbirds are in danger.  Whose song will we hear when they are gone?   The film is full of gorgeous shots of birds and clips of bird songs. (2015, 90 min) (Screens: Friday, April 1, 2:30 PM at Andrews Hall and Sunday, April 3, 9:30 AM at Vintage House)

ARThound’s previous festival coverage:

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, will honor Meg Ryan who will screen her new film “Ithaca”

Details: The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday, March 30 and runs through Sunday, April 2, 2016.  To enjoy guaranteed access to all films, themed nightly parties in SIFF Village’s Backlot Tent, after parties, receptions, and industry events and panels, buy all inclusive passes online at sonomafilmfest.org.   A limited number of $15 tickets are available for each film screening too and these will sell out rapidly, so purchase these in advance online at sonomafilmfest.org.

March 30, 2016 Posted by | Classical Music, Film, Food, Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, will honor Meg Ryan who will screen her new film “Ithaca”

Meg Ryan, Golden Globe nominated actor and director, will receive the Sonoma Salute Award at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 30-April 30, 2016). The tribute will be presented on March 31 with a program that includes an on-stage conversation with Ryan and the screening of her new family drama, “Ithaca,” her directorial debut. Image: SIFF

Meg Ryan, Golden Globe nominated actor and director, will receive the Sonoma Salute Award at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 30-April 30, 2016). The tribute will be presented on March 31 with a program that includes an on-stage conversation with Ryan and the screening of her new family drama, “Ithaca,” her directorial debut. Image: SIFF

The Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF 19), March 30-April 3, 2016, a Wine Country favorite among film and wine lovers, hasn’t released its full schedule yet but it has just announced that Meg Ryan, the beloved Golden Globe nominated actor and director will be honored with the festival’s Sonoma Salute Award on Thursday, March 31 at the historic Sebastiani Theatre on the plaza.  The presentation will follow a special screening of Ryan’s new film Ithaca and an on stage conversation moderated by filmmaker Elliot Koteck who also publishes the Association of Film Commissioners’ twice annual Beyond Cinema magazine.

Ithaca is Ryan’s directorial film debut and the drama is an adaptation of William Saroyan’s 1943 novel, The Human Comedy. After taking a break from acting for the past six years, the film reunites Ryan with Tom Hanks for the fourth time, after cherished performances in You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and Joe Versus the Volcano co-star.  In this drama, Ryan plays a widowed mother, while Hanks plays a very small role.  First filmed in 1943 under the name of The Human Comedy, Ryan’s Ithaca is a “World War II coming-of-age drama about Homer, a young telegram messenger in a small town and looks after his widowed mother while his brother is away at war .  The film was shot along historical back road sites in Virginia and, along with Ryan and Hanks, it features Alex Neustaedter, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan’s son, Jack Quaid, who plays Marcus the older brother serving in the war.  The music is by John Mellencamp.

Joachim Tier’s drama, “Louder Than Bombs” (2015), opens the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival on Wednesday, March 30, at the Sebastiani Theatre.

Joachim Tier’s drama, “Louder Than Bombs” (2015), opens the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival on Wednesday, March 30, at the Sebastiani Theatre.

Norwegian director Joachim Tier’s family drama, Louder Than Bombs (2015), opens the festival on Wednesday, March 30 at the Sebastiani.  A smash at last year’s Cannes Film Festival will, the drama stars Isabelle Hupert, Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and David Strathairn and explores how a widower and his two adult sons cope with the recent death of the wife and mother (Hupert), a war photographer.  The opening night festivities will also feature a live “vertical dance performance” with members of the dynamic Bandaloop dance group gracefully performing choreographed moves from ropes on the Sebastiani’s roof.

Details: The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival starts March 30 and runs through April 2, 2016.  Buy passes online now at sonomafilmfest.org.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 18th Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday—the art line-up is wonderful

An interior view of artists’ Leda Levant and Michael Kahn’s sculptural home, “Eliphante” in Cornville, Arizona (red rock country near Sedona).  The house is featured in Don Freeman’s “Art House,” screening twice at the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 25-29, 2015).  The gorgeously shot documentary explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American artists.  Levant and Kahn created their home over 28 years, entirely out of re-purposed materials and it evolved naturally form their mutual love of stone, wood, pottery and stained glass.  An elephant’s trunk-like entrance to one of the structures gave rise to the name.   They began building their magical home when they first arrived in Arizona, even though they did not yet own the property.

An interior view of artists’ Leda Levant and Michael Kahn’s sculptural home, “Eliphante,” in Cornville, Arizona (red rock country near Sedona). The house is featured in Don Freeman’s “Art House,” screening twice at the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 25-29, 2015). The gorgeously shot documentary explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American artists. Artists Levant and Kahn created their home over 28 years, entirely out of re-purposed materials and it evolved from their mutual love of stone, wood, pottery and stained glass. An elephant’s trunk-like entrance to one of the structures gave rise to the name. They began building their magical home when they first arrived in Arizona, even though they did not yet own the property. The stories told in the film are as artful as the D.I.Y. houses. Commentary from cultural critic Alastair Gordon and an original score by Jamie Rudolph evoke the spiritual dimension of the sites and argue the case that the intuitive vision of artists can create great architecture.

The 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) starts Wednesday and will screen over 90 films from more than two dozen countries over 5 nights and 4 days.  The big nights have been well-covered in the media.  Among the treasures that you might not have yet discovered are several films, each an artwork in itself, on artists and designers, some virtually unknown, whose gift for creative expression will inspire and delight.  $15 tickets are available for pre-purchase online for all of the films mentioned below.  Victor Mancilla’s documentary, ART and Revolutions, about Mexico’s famed artist-engraver, José Guasalupe Posada, will screens Saturday at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, will have an accompanying art exhibition and a lively post-screening Q& A with the director and Jim Nikas, the collector.  The opening night film, Alan Rickman’s  A Little Chaos, which has Kate Winslet playing an unorthodox thinking widow hired to design part of the gardens at Versailles, has also peaked my interest.  I love how  Winslet embodies strength on scene and I’m intrigued with garden design, which poses interesting questions, artistic and otherwise.  What is nature, how do we fit into it and how should we shape it when we can both physically and visually?  Some of these fascinating issues are practical and others philosophical but we can only hope that Winslet’s Sabine de Barra tackles them substantively as she (predictably) snuggles up with the court’s renowned landscape architect artist André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to design one of the most exquisite gardens ever conceived.

Now, on to the art line up—

One of two known images of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), who is pictured with his son.  Posada is the subject of Director Victor Mancilla’s documentary “Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions,” which screens Saturday at the Sonoma International Film Festival.  Photo: courtesy: Jim Nikas

One of two known images of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), who is pictured with his son. Posada is the subject of Director Victor Mancilla’s documentary “Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions,” which screens Saturday at the Sonoma International Film Festival. Photo: courtesy: Jim Nikas

Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions  (Mexico/USA, 2014, 41 minutes)  Called a “revolutionary artist of the people” and hailed as “the Goya of Mexico” and yet virtually unknown, Mexican artist and printmaker José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) created a vast portfolio of important work.  Mexican director Victor Mancilla (201 Squadron: The Forgotten Eagles (2009) Best Historical Documentary award, Smithsonian Institution) tells Posada’s story through Jim Nikas (of Marin), an obsessed American collector of Posada’s works.  Nikas, who has the largest collection of Posada’s in the U.S., embarks on a passionate search for the truth about the artist.  Traveling to the Posada’s hometown of Aguascalientes, to Leon and then Mexico City, Nikas meets art historians and encounters things that would have amazed even the artist Posada himself, including  Fidel Castro’s pajamas and Che Guevera’s backpack.  Three-and-a-half years in the making, ART and Revolutions© was shot on location in Mexico and features music by pianist Natasha Marin, wife of actor and avid Chicano Art collector Cheech Marin. (Screens:  Saturday, March 28, 5 PM, Sonoma Valley of Art, $15 tickets) There is a post-screening Q & A with the director and Jim Nikas and an Exhibition of Posada’s original artwork from the collection of the Posada Art Foundation.

The inside of the Martinez printshop in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico looks as if it might have been used by José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla, 20 years his senior, with whom he worked in Mexico City.  In fact, the print shop not only looks that way but the printers bore such a striking resemblance to Posada and Manilla that “Searching for Posada” Director Victor Mancilla and Producer Jim Nikas asked if they would allow a re-creation of Posada's printshop using their shop. They agreed. The prints they are holding are original from the Brady Nikas Collection.  Photo: Jim Nikas

The inside of the Martinez printshop in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico looks as if it might have been used by José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla, 20 years his senior, with whom he worked in Mexico City. In fact, the print shop not only looks that way but the printers bore such a striking resemblance to Posada and Manilla that “Searching for Posada” Director Victor Mancilla and Producer Jim Nikas asked if they would allow a re-creation of Posada’s printshop using their shop. They agreed. The prints they are holding are original from the Brady Nikas Collection. Photo: Jim Nikas

 

Art House—(USA, 90 min) Photographer Don Freeman’s masterful documentary Art House explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American—Frederic Church, Russel Wright, George Nakashima, Raoul Hague, Costantino Nivola, Paolo Soleri, Henry Chapman Mercer, Wharton Esherick, Henry Varnum Poor, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, and Eliphante.  Embracing the synergy of curves, natural materials and muted light, each glorious home reflects its creator’s distinctive voice and practice as it merges with architecture.  An anthem to creative souls who follow their hearts, this inspirational and gorgeously shot doc makes the sleek pages of Architectural Digest and Dwell seem passé. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 5:30 PM, Women’s Club; Sunday, March 29, 7:30 PM Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.  $15 tickets)

Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery (Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Falschung)—(Germany, 2014, 93 min)  It’s ironic that 58-year-old German Wolfgang Beltracchi looks like Alfred Durer.  Beltracchi masterminded one of the most lucrative art scams in postwar European history.  For decades, this self-taught painter, and self-proclaimed hippie, passed off his own paintings as newly-discovered masterpieces by Max Ernst, André Derain, Max Pechstein, Georges Braque, and other Expressionists and Surrealists from the early 20th century.  His wife, Helene Beltracchi, along with two accomplices, created convincing backstories and sold the paintings for six and seven figures through auction houses in Germany and France, including Sotheby’s and Christie’s. One fake Max Ernst hung for months in a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2004, Steve Martin purchased a fake Heinrich Campendonk for $860,000 through a Parisian gallery.  Arne Birkenstock’s Lola award winning documentary Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery (“Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Falschung,” 2014), features the larger than life Beltracchi sharing his secrets; those he duped sharing their dismay; and those who caught him talking about the painting that blew it all up. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 8 PM, Woman’s Club and Sunday, March 29, 5 PM, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, $15 tickets)

Larger-than-life German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi, is the subject of Arne Birkenstock’s engrossing documentary, “Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery.”  For over 40 years, Beltracci duped the cognoscenti of the art world by painting his own masterpieces and selling them for millions.

Larger-than-life German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi, is the subject of Arne Birkenstock’s engrossing documentary, “Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery.” For over 40 years, Beltracci duped the cognoscenti of the art world by painting his own masterpieces and selling them for millions.

Generosity of Eye—(USA, 63 min) Octogenarian William Louis-Dreyfus, the father of Julia Louis-Dreyfus  (Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld) and now “Veep” ) started collecting art in the early 1960s, things that caught his eye, not investment pieces. While there are no Warhols, Freuds, or Picassos in his 3,500 piece collection, he conservatively estimates it to be worth at least $10 million and possible as much as $50 to $60 million. (from 5.26.14 Wall Street Journal article)  There are pieces by Paul Gaugin, Vassily Kandinsky, Leonardo Cremonini, George Boorujy, Helen Frankenthaler, and self-taught African-American artist and former slave Bill Traylor.  Louis-Dreyfus served as chairman of Louis Dreyfus Group, a global conglomerate started by his great-grandfather in 1851. Forbes estimated his net worth at $3.4 billion in 2006.  Director Brad Hill, who is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ husband, has captured the very personal story of her discovering how her father’s passion for art and justice led him to donate most of this collection over the next several decades to the New York-based non-profit, the Harlem Children’s Zone, HCZ.  This touching story of a major art collection transforming into educational opportunity that will help kids in Harlem escape the vicious cycle of poverty has the intimacy of a home movie.  (Click here to view the Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection web site which includes the entire collection) (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 9:30 AM Sebastiani Theatre and Sunday, March 29, 5:30 PM Burlingame Hall. $15 tickets)

The Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection is the subject of "Generosity of Eye," Brad Hall’s documentary about collector William Louis-Dreyfus who decided recently to donate his collection to the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). The 3,500 piece collection is currently housed in Mount Kisco, N.Y., very close to Louis-Dreyfus’ home and is set up like a private art gallery.  It includes several works by self-taught African-American artist Bill Tylor, who was born into slavery in 1856 and was sharecropper all of his adult life.  He began painting after his eightieth birthday and his subjects were the rhythms and rituals of the rural South.  Photo: Kevin Hagen, WSJ

The Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection is the subject of “Generosity of Eye,” Brad Hall’s documentary about collector William Louis-Dreyfus who decided recently to donate his collection to the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). The 3,500 piece collection is currently housed in Mount Kisco, N.Y., very close to Louis-Dreyfus’ home and is set up like a private art gallery. It includes several works by self-taught African-American artist Bill Tylor, who was born into slavery in 1856 and was sharecropper all of his adult life. He began painting after his eightieth birthday and his subjects were the rhythms and rituals of the rural South. Photo: Kevin Hagen, WSJ

 

Dior and I —(France, 90 min) There are just a handful of fashion greats who have had French designer Christian Dior’s enduring impact on 20th century style.  Filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (co-director Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, 2012 and Valentino: The Last Emperor, 2008) delivers another insightful exploration of this style pioneer’s enduring influence through the storied world of the House of Christian Dior.  Dior passed in 1957 but his name has lived on through this contemporary fashion house, now owned by Groupe Arnault.  This thoughtful doc delivers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look at the new Artistic Director, Raf Simons’ very first Haute Couture collection.  From conception through its ultimate exhibition, the process is shown to be a nerve-racking labor of love.  Stoic Simons must coax the very best from his dedicated collaborators who literally make it all happen.  Tcheng’s revealing homage to pressure cooker couture is fascinating.  (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 2 PM Sonoma Community Center and Saturday, March 28, 8:30 PM Sonoma Valley Art Museum $15 tickets)

Art & Design Shorts Program—Fine cinematography comes in various packages.  SIFF has a soft place for shorts, recognizing that, outside of the festival circuit, there is little chance to experience the synergy of a well-executed short.  The festival offers three curated shorts programs and will screen dozens of individual shorts in advance of its feature-length programming.  British artist David Hockney, Italian architect and interior designer Paola Navone, , 5th generation farmer and vintner  Jim Bundschu, multifaceted designer Michael Vanderbyl and various Native American architects, builders and tribal members are the subjects of five Art & Design shorts that are guaranteed to stimulate your senses and fire up your imagination.  Total run time is approximately one hour (Screens: Friday, March 27 12:30 PM and Sunday, March 29, 9:30 AM both at Woman’s Club.  $15 tickets)

Cindy Allen’s short biopic, “Fish Out of Water: The Design of Paola Novone” (2014), premiered in New York at the 2014 Interior Design Hall of Fame.  The 10 minute short showcases the Italian design icon’s endless creativity through interviews with Allen, who is the editor-in-chief of Interior Design magazine.

Cindy Allen’s short biopic, “Fish Out of Water: The Design of Paola Novone” (2014), premiered in New York at the 2014 Interior Design Hall of Fame. The 10 minute short showcases the Italian design icon’s endless creativity through interviews with Allen, who is the editor-in-chief of Interior Design magazine.

 

ARThound’s previous festival coverage:

The Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday—$15 tickets online now for many of the films

Passes for the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival are on sale now and prices will increase on March 1, 2015

SIFF 18 details:

Full festival schedule by film type is available online here.

Full schedule in calendar form is available online here.

Official Full SIFF Film Guide is available online here.

Information about passes and tickets is here.

Screening Locations:

Sebastiani Theatre – 476 First St. East (seats 325)

Sonoma Community Center-Andrews Hall – 276 East Napa Street (seats 150)

Mia’s Kitchen at Vintage House – 126 First Street West (seats 150)

Sonoma Woman’s Club – 574 First Street. East (seats 100)

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art – 551 Broadway (seats 70)

Vintage House– 264 First Street East

La Luz Center – 17560 Gregor Street, Boyes Hot Springs (3.5 miles from town square)

 

 

 

March 24, 2015 Posted by | Art, Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday—$15 tickets online now for many of the films

Leandie Du Randt and Armand Greyling in a scene from Etienne Fourie’s romantic drama, The Windmill (Die Windpomp) (2014), which has its North American premiere at the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 25-29, 2015.  The romantic drama is the first South African film to screen at SIFF which offers over 90 films from two dozen countries.

Leandie Du Randt and Armand Greyling in a scene from Etienne Fourie’s “The Windmill” (Die Windpomp) (2014), which has its North American premiere at the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 25-29, 2015. The romantic drama is the first South African film to screen at SIFF which, this year, offers over 90 films from two dozen countries.

On Wednesday, the curtain rises on the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF), pairing 5 nights and 4 days of film with the wine country’s exquisite food, wine and artisan beer.  Over 90 films from more than two dozen countries will play in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic town square which transforms into “Sonomawood” for the festivities. Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos, with Kate Winslet, has its North American premiere and opens the festival on Wednesday evening at the historic Sebastiani Theater and Michel Hazanavicius’ The Search, starring Annette Bening and Berenice Bejo, also at the Sebastiani, closes the festival on Sunday evening.

You can’t beat Sonoma in spring—the atmosphere is quaint and relaxed; the weather is warm; the streets are popping with roses and lilacs; and the real estate descriptions on the square’s windows will fuel your dreams.   This festival is geared towards pass-holders who pay a premium ($250 to $2,500) for access to all the screenings and the famous “back-lot” tent (an all-you-can-eat-and-drink orgy) and special parties.  Tickets are also available, on a limited basis, for individual film screenings for $15 each.  Many of these include lively post-screening Q&A’s with the directors or cast and generous free samples of locally prepared gourmet treats.  This year, instead of having to go to the festival box office on the town square in person to purchase these tickets, they can be conveniently purchased online, with a small service charge, and are available for many of the films.  If individual tickets are available, there will be a “tickets” hyperlink included in the film description.  Understandably, opening and closing night films (as of this positing) are for pass-holders only.

Full festival schedule by film type is available online here.

Full schedule in calendar form is available online here.

Official Full SIFF Film Guide is available online here.

Stay-tuned to ARThound for an overview of this year’s exceptional art-related line-up.

The festival programmers know exactly what their audience wants and, along with thought-provoking documentaries, drama, art and music, SIFF always offers a number of endearing “rom-drams,” romantic dramas, from all over the world.  This  year SIFF screens its first film ever from South Africa, Etienne Fourie’s The Windmill (Die Windpomp) (2014) which originally started out as a 48 minute student film that swept the prestigious South African AFDA awards and was then developed into a full-length film.  This is one of the few films that I have seen (a screener was provided) and I recommend it highly.  The story revolves around introverted 20 year-old Henri (Armand Greyling) who comes to live with his elderly grandfather in a sleepy retirement village somewhere in South Africa.  As soon as he arrives, Henri begins to have a series of strange interactions with the quirky and affable seniors in the small community who all share one big secret.  When Henri catches the eye of exquisite and fun-loving Margot (Leandie Du Randt), he slowly opens his heart and magical things begin to happen, literally.  Opulently shot and choreographed, the film’s drama builds from an initially light and entertaining story into a complex mystery that is a passionate lament for aging.  Is it better to live forever, or for a finite time subject to all the physical and mental frailties of the human condition?  The delicate love story between Henri and Margot is heightened by Armand Greyling’s remote and introspective performance.  Hearing a film in Afrikaans is a rare treat itself. (114 min, in Afrikaans)

(Screens: Thursday 3/26 8:30 PM Sebastiani and Saturday 3/28 9 AM Vintage House.  Individual tickets available for both screenings.)

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passes for the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival are on sale now and prices will increase on March 1, 2015

The historic Sebastiani Theatre, built in 1933, graces Sonoma’s lovely town square and is the main screening venue of the 18th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, March 25-29, 2015.  Every year, the festival draws cinema lovers from all over the world for 5 days of film, food, wine and partying in Sonoma.  Photo: courtesy SIFF

The historic Sebastiani Theatre, built in 1933, graces Sonoma’s lovely town square and is the main screening venue of the 18th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, March 25-29, 2015. Every year, the festival draws cinema lovers from all over the world for 5 days of film, food, wine and partying in Sonoma. Photo: courtesy SIFF

World class cinema, fabulous food and wine from local artisans, and the breathtaking beauty of the wine country in spring all combine to make the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) one of the Bay Area’s most enjoyable events.  For those of us who live in the North Bay, it unfolds pretty much in our backyard.  This year’s festival, the 18th annual SIFF, is March 25-29, 2015, and is a week earlier than last year’s festival. Discounted passes are now on sale.  Lock in your passes now, as the prices rise considerably on Sunday, March 1, 2015.

This year, SIFF features over 90 hand-selected films from two dozen countries—features, documentaries, world cinema, Vamos Al Cine (showcasing Spanish-language film), and shorts.  Two hundred filmmakers and celebrities are expected to attend and participate in premieres, Q&A’s and panel discussions.  Guests, celebs and attendees all mingle on the historic town square and in Backlot, SIFF’s decadent den of epicurean delights. Film luminaries who have walked SIFF’s red carpet include: Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Blythe Danner, Danny Glover, Lauren Hutton, Demian Bichir, Ray Liotta  and Mary-Louise Parker.  This year’s special guests and programming have yet to be announced.

All films are screened in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance of Sonoma’s lovely plaza.  Many screenings include delectable gourmet samplings.  The SIFF ambiance is laid-back and the experience is unforgettable…that’s why most guests return year after year.  And it’s for a great cause— since 2002, SIFF and its members have continually supported Sonoma Valley High School’s Media Arts Program. This student program opens doorways to creativity in the digital arts through filmmaking classes, animation, scriptwriting, film theory, and – most of all – storytelling.   Over the past 12 years, SIFF has donated over $450,000 to Peter Hansen’s media arts program at SVHS.

Cinema Pass—$200* – All Films & entry to Backlot Tent (*Price increases to $250 on March 17, 2014)

Cinema Soiree Pass —$575* First Entry to all films, regular events and parties and VIP hospitality area and Backlot Tent.” (*Price increases to $650 on March 1, 2015)

Patron Pass/All Access—single $2,500; couple $4,000—includes all benefits of a Soiree Pass, plus all events, parties and special dinners during the festival.  There are only 8 remaining passes at this level.

 

Click here to purchase all SIFF passes.

Click here for more information, or call 707 933-2600

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Film, Food | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sonoma International Film Festival passes are on sale now and prices will increase on Monday, March 17, 2014

Yılmaz Erdoğan's “The Butterfly's Dream” (2013), Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar, is one of will screen at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (April 2-6, 2014). Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of two young poets, forgotten by history, whose writing developed while they were both terminally ill with tuberculosis.  The title is from an ancient passage by Chinese thinker Chuang Tzu, in which he pondered his dream of being a butterfly. Erdoğan’s gorgeously shot film addresses the nature of reality and the power of artistic practice to mitigate hardship.

Yılmaz Erdoğan’s “The Butterfly’s Dream” (2013), Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar, will screen at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (April 2-6, 2014). Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of two young poets, forgotten by history, whose writing developed while they were both fighting to survive tuberculosis. The title is from an ancient passage by Chinese thinker Chuang Tzu, in which he pondered his dream of being a butterfly. Erdoğan’s gorgeously-shot film addresses the nature of reality and the power of artistic practice to mitigate hardship.

If you love cinema, world class food and wine from local artisans and vintners, and the breathtaking beauty of the wine country, it doesn’t get any better than the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF).  Discounted passes are now on sale for the 17th annual SIFF—April 2-6, 2014.  Lock in your passes now, as the prices rise considerably on Monday, March 17, 2014.

This year, SIFF features over 115 hand-selected films from 22 countries—features, documentaries, world cinema, Vamos Al Cine (showcasing Spanish-language film), and shorts.  Two hundred filmmakers and celebrities will attend and participate in premieres, Q&A’s an panel discussions.  Guests, celebs and attendees all mingle on the square and in Backlot, SIFF’s decadent den of epicurean delights. Film luminaries who have walked SIFF’s red carpet include: Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Blythe Danner, Danny Glover, Lauren Hutton, Demian Bichir, Ray Liotta  and Mary-Louise Parker.  This year’s special guests have yet to be announced.

The line-up, of which we have just a few details, includes 62 full length features films, all selected by Festival Director Kevin McNeely and his programmers Claudia Mendoza-Carruth and Steve Shor, who know exactly what appeals to the savvy audience of this extended weekend fest.  For the first time, SIFF17 welcomes a film from Nigeria, director Biyi Bandele’s acclaimed Half of a Yellow Sun,  an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel of the same name.  This year’s Vamos Al Cine program, which began as programming for the Spanish speaking community but has morphed into one of the festival’s biggest draws, will focus on Cuban cinema with Cuban director and actor, Jorge Perugorria, attending.  And dog lover ARThound is excited about this year’s special programming for children (and the young at heart) and the guest appearance of the amazing Olate dogs (winner of America’s Got Talent 2012 and $1 million.  These joyful dogs will perform at the historic Sebastiani Theatre in a special morning that includes the world premiere of Peter McEvilley’s French short, Le Sauvetage—which features Peter Olate’s rescue dogs and addresses animal welfare—and a live musical performance by members of “Everybody is a Star.”   This year, there are an unprecedented 24 documentaries, many of which unpack our increasingly confusing organic and green lifestyle and impart groundbreaking research on the health and environmental impacts of plastic, fracking and hemp.  One of these, Wings of Life, a new Disneynature film, narrated by Meryl Streep, uses incredible cinematography, high-seed, time-lapse and micro filmmaking techniques to reveal the extraordinary importance of flowers and their pollinator partners.  And for foodies, three world cinema offerings explore the fusion of storytelling, fine cuisine and restaurants.

All films are screened in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance along Sonoma’s historic plaza.  Many screenings include delectable gourmet samplings.  The SIFF ambiance is laid-back and the experience is unforgettable…that’s why most guests return year after year.  And it’s for a great cause— since 2002, SIFF and its members have continually supported Sonoma Valley High School’s Media Arts Program. This student program opens doorways to creativity in the digital arts through filmmaking classes, animation, scriptwriting, film theory, and – most of all – storytelling.  So far this year, SIFF has donated $25,000 to Peter Hansen’s media arts program at SVHS, having given almost $450,000 over the past 12 years.

Cinema Pass—$175* – All Films & Panels (*Price increases to $250 on March 17, 2014)

Cinema Soiree Pass —$450* First Entry to films, VIP hospitality area, tribute, parties & receptions & “First Look.” (*Price increases to $600 on March 17, 2014)

Patron Pass/All Access—single $2,500; couple $4,000

 

Click here to purchase all SIFF passes.

Click here for more information, or call 707 933-2600

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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