ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

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

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

Soulful, spirited, political—the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has a line-up of stories from around the world with an emphasis on Cuban film—it kicks off tonight

Columbian director Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s “Field of Amapolas” (Jardín de Amapolas) addresses the impact of Columbia’s ongoing struggle with corruption through the story of two innocent children.

Columbian director Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s “Field of Amapolas” (Jardín de Amapolas) screens at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014 as part of the popular Vamos Al Cine series. Filmed in Ipiales, in the Nariño region of Colombia, the film addresses the impact of Columbia’s ongoing struggle with corruption through the story of two innocent children. Latin American cinema is hot right now, so much so that in most of the big festival offerings it has nearly replaced Asian cinema. The films are coming not from the old standbys (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil) but from Colombia, Chile, Peru, nations that have had sporadic cinematic output. Columbia in particular is a hotspot for vibrant film. SIFF 17 will offer over a dozen films from Latin America and is showcasing Cuban film.

ARThound loves a great film, one whose story speaks right to my heart.  This year’s 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF), which kicks off tonight, features over 115 hand-selected films from 22 countries—features, documentaries, world cinema, and shorts.  Two hundred filmmakers and celebrities will attend and participate in premieres, Q&A’s and panel discussions spread over five glorious days in Sonoma. The festival is also one long party, offering pass holders world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners in  “The Backlot,” SIFF’s culinary hub, a one-of-a-kind hospitality tent on the North side of Sonoma’s City Hall.  Whether you’re a passholder or come for individual film screenings, this festival has a to offer.  It all starts this evening with an opening night party, two opening night films and an after party.  If you’ve missed my previous coverage of the festival basics and Big Nights, here are the links explaining all about the passes vs going solo—

March 23—The line-up has been announced for the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014…pounce on individual tickets

March 12—Sonoma International Film Festival passes are on sale now and prices will increase on Monday, March 17, 2014

ARThound’s top picks in the World Cinema category:

In choosing these must-see films, I’m looking for something that I won’t be able to see elsewhere, countries that are less represented/new directors generating a buzz, a unique story with an international point of view, and the promise of cinematic magic.  SIFF doesn’t provide critics with screeners, so putting this information together requires lots of research and some guesswork.  Given the ascendency of Latin cinema, I recommend attending as much as you can of this year’s Vamos Al Cine programming.   This wonderful series, initiated three years ago by Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, began as programming for the Spanish speaking community but has morphed into one of the festival’s biggest draws. This year, it offers 10 films, emphasizing distinctive new voices from Columbia (2), Cuba (4), Dominican Republic (1), Mexico (2) and Venezuela (1).  There’s an emphasis on Cuban cinema with 4 Cuban films and several Cuban directors and actors in attendance.

A young Iranian woman is gang raped and must deal with the fall-out in Pourya Avarbaiyany's   "Everything is Fine Here," screening at SIFF 17.

A young Iranian woman is gang raped and must deal with the fall-out in Pourya Avarbaiyany’s “Everything is Fine Here,” screening at SIFF 17.

Everything is Fine Here— Iran | 2012 | 75 min. | Dir. Pourya Avarbaiyany (in attendance)

On the verge of her marriage, Arghavan a 25 year old writer who is newly engaged and acclaimed, with an invitation to lead a prestigious writing workshop in Germany, is gang-raped in a deserted area of Tehran.  In a strict, conservative society where young women are expected to be virgins before marriage, the crime is that of her assailants but the catastrophe is hers. Overwhelmed by rumors, her life turns into a nightmare and her pending marriage and her relationship with her parents are threatened. The film addresses Iran’s perplexing state of gender inequality and the battle of the individual in a discriminatory society to cope when a tragedy occurs. In 2011 in Iran, there were reports from Human Right Agencies chronicling 6 brutal rapes of Iranian women and in some of these cases, Iranian officials blamed the victims. Iran’s women face a host of laws which limit their rights in marriage, divorce and child custody.  In some cases, their testimony in court is regarded as less than half that of a man’s.  This young director is from Tehran.  I can’t wait to hear how he managed to make a film like this.  Screens: Thursday, April 3 (12:15 pm) Vintage House and Friday, April 4 (9:30 pm) Murphy’s Irish Pub

Cuban actors Armando Miguel Gómez and Yuliet Cruz are a couple impacted by the closure of the sugar mill in Carlos Lechuga’s first feature, “Melaza,” screening twice at SIFF 17.

Cuban actors Armando Miguel Gómez and Yuliet Cruz are a couple impacted by the closure of the sugar mill in Carlos Lechuga’s first feature, “Melaza,” screening twice at SIFF 17.

 

Melaza—Cuba | 2012 | 80 min. | Dir. Carlos Lechuga (in attendance)—With the closure of its local sugar mill, the picturesque (fictional) Cuban town of Melaza has become desolate and lifeless. School teacher Aldo (Armando Miguel Gómez) and now-unemployed Monica (Yuliet Cruz) eke out a meager living, going as far as renting out their tiny home to the local prostitute for extra cash. When they get in trouble with the authorities, resulting fines lead to more desperate measures. This beautifully filmed, contemplative first feature explores the social crisis in the Cuban sugar factory neighborhoods following the dismantling of many production units. It poses the question of how to survive in a country in crisis.

This is Lechuga’s first feature film. Director’s statement: “While the post-production process went on, I began to realize that a love story was being told that in the end left an optimistic taste, but which, like molasses (melaza), hides certain bitterness. The bitterness of a tragedy set up in the Tropics, with a brilliant sun, green sugarcane and lovers holding each other’s hands, awaiting the worse.”  Screens: Thursday, April 3 (8:45 pm) Murphy’s Irish Pub and Saturday, April 5 (7:15 pm) La Luz Center

 

 

Chronic Love (Amor Crónico)—Cuba | 2012 | 83 min. | Dir. Jorge Perugorria (in attendance)—This exhilarating and energetic blend of fact and fiction follows flamboyant Cuban-born/New York-based singer and Grammy nominee Cucú Diamantes on her first tour of Cuba. This unique road film interweaves footage of her cabaret-style performances with a fictional love story. A love letter to Cuban cinema, to Cuban music and to its people.  Directed by Cuban actor and visual artist Jorge Perugorría (famous for his part as Diego in Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate), 1994).  Screens: Friday, April 4 (8:00 pm) Sebastani Theater and Saturday, April 5 (5:00 pm) La Luz Center

Yilmaz Erdogan’s “The Butterfly’s Dream” (Kelebeğin Rüyası) was Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar.  Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of the bond between two young poets who both contract tuberculosis and fall in love with the same woman.

Yilmaz Erdogan’s “The Butterfly’s Dream” (Kelebeğin Rüyası) was Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar. Set during World War II in Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of the bond between two young poets who both contract tuberculosis and fall in love with the same woman.

 The Butterfly’s Dream (Kelebeğin Rüyası)—Turkey | 138 min. | 2013 | Dir. Yilmaz Erdogan—Turkey’s submission for Best foreign Language Oscar which had a long gestation period—seven years of screen-writing and two years in pre-production. Set during World War II in impoverished Zonguldak, Turkey, the film is the real life story of the bond between two young poets long forgotten by history—Muzaffer (Kivanç Tatlitug), the optimist romantic, and Rüştü (Mert Firat)  the pessimist dreamer—whose brotherly camaraderie is based upon their shared loved for the written word and their mutual misfortune. Forced to work in the coal mines, they both contract tuberculosis and fall in love with the same woman, an aristocrat’s daughter, played by star Belçim Bilgin, who is also Erdogan’s wife. 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. Screens: Saturday, April 5 (3:15 pm) Burlingame Hall and Sunday, April 6 (10:00 am) Murphy’s Irish Pub

 Field of Amapolas (Jardín de Amapolas)— Colombia | 87 min. | Dir. Juan Carlos Melo Guevara— Filmed very close to director Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s hometown of Ipiales in the Nariño region of Colombia, this is the first feature film to ever be shot in the area. When accused of collaborating with the enemy in the ongoing guerilla war in Colombia, farmer Emilio, along with his nine-year- old son Simon, is forced by rebels to vacate his piece of land. After relocating with the help of a relative, Emilio and his son face such an economic struggle that Emilio to takes work in the illegal poppy (Amapolas) fields belonging to a local drug lord, who happens to be his cousin. Meanwhile, Simon meets and befriends Luisa, a girl his own age. She is obsessed with playing with a puppy dog she can’t afford. Simon steals it for her every day, but returns it each night. One day, the cousin discovers Simon’s secret and decides to use him for his own greedy plan.

This is Guevara’s first feature as director, screenwriter and producer. Director’s statement: “The idea was not only make a portrayal unique to the film history of Colombia, but to make a story through the point of view of two kids who can only see their reality with innocence, without speeches or academic criticism; that’s why this is not a film about war, on the contrary, the war is only a stage where life, dreams, and hopes can continue.”Screens: Sunday, April 6 (11:00 am) La Luz Center 

Nigerian director Biye Bandele’s “Half Of A Yellow Sun” finds Chiwetel Ejiofor co-starring opposite Thandie Newton in the adaptation of the bestselling (and Orange Prize for Fiction-winning) novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, set against the backdrop of the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran war.  This is the first Nigerian film to screen at the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Nigerian director Biye Bandele’s “Half Of A Yellow Sun” finds Chiwetel Ejiofor co-starring opposite Thandie Newton in the adaptation of the bestselling (and Orange Prize for Fiction-winning) novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, set against the backdrop of the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran war. This is the first Nigerian film to screen at the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Half of a Yellow Sun Nigeria | 2013 | 113 min. | Dir. Biye Bandele—For the first time, SIFF17 welcomes a film from Nigeria, first time writer-director Biyi Bandele’s acclaimed Half of a Yellow Sun, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel of the same name.

This epic chronicle of family drama and tribal violence begins in 1960 and leads up to the Nigerian-Biafran War which ended in 1970. The film tracks war through the story of headstrong twin sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton—Crash, The Pursuit of Happiness) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose), privileged girls from Lagos, who return home after their respective university educations abroad. Both make similarly scandalous decisions. Olanna defies familial expectations and convention not only by becoming a sociology professor herself, but also by moving in with firebrand academic Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor—12 Years A Slave, Children of Men) in the college town of Nsukka. Kainene assumes management of the family business and falls in love with an English – and married – writer (Joseph Mawle). The loyalties of the sisters are tested amidst the horrors of the Nigerian Civil War, and the rise and fall of short-lived republic of Biafra. The main focus is on the Olanna and Odenigbo whose passion is ignited over political protest but things get rocky when Odenigbo’s battle-ax mother (Onyeka Onwenu) comes to visit. An uneducated village woman with a mean and scheming personality, Mama is determined to split up the lovebirds up any way she can, and nearly succeeds.Rich in period atmosphere, evoking a strong sense of how these Nigerians lived their lives day-to-day, and how devastated they are when war and all its atrocities rip that fabric apart. Screens: Friday, April 4 (11:00 am) Murphy’s Irish Pub and Sunday, April 6 (2:30 pm) Vintage House

 

SIFF Details:

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival is April 2-6, 2014. All films are screened in seven intimate venues, all within walking distance along Sonoma’s historic plaza

Click here to purchase all SIFF passes.

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

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Film, Food, Jazz Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The line-up has been announced for the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014…pounce on individual tickets

Catalonian actors Claudia Bassols (L) and Jan Cornet (R) are the central couple in Roger Gual’s “Tasting Menu,” screening at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014.  The foodies made a reservation one year in advance at a world famous three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Barcelona, on the famous Costa Brava.  When the day finally arrives, they’re separated and learn that this will be their last chance to ever eat there as it’s the restaurant’s closing night.  For the sake of haute cuisine, they agree to dine together.  Joining them are the widowed countess who put the place on the map, potential Japanese investors and their dotty interpreter, American food critics and editors, and a mystery guest who has everyone guessing.  With close-ups of hands chopping and sculpting entrees like works of fine art, breathtaking scenery and high drama, “Tasting Menu,” in Catalan, promises to delight. Claudia Bassols will attend.   Image: Magnolia Films

Catalonian actors Claudia Bassols (L) and Jan Cornet (R) are the central couple in Roger Gual’s “Tasting Menu,” screening at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, April 2-6, 2014. The foodies made a reservation one year in advance at a world famous three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Barcelona, on the famous Costa Brava. When the day finally arrives, they’re separated and learn that this will be their last chance to ever eat there as it’s the restaurant’s closing night. For the sake of haute cuisine, they agree to dine together. Joining them are the widowed countess who put the place on the map, potential Japanese investors and their dotty interpreter, American food critics and editors, and a mystery guest who has everyone guessing. With close-ups of hands chopping and sculpting entrees like works of fine art, breathtaking scenery and high drama, “Tasting Menu,” in Catalan, promises to delight. Claudia Bassols will attend. Image: Magnolia Films

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) is just around the corner—April 2-6, 2014—pairing 5 nights and 4 days of nearly non-stop screenings with great food and wine in gorgeous Sonoma. The program and schedule have just been released and, this year, SIFF is presenting 106 new films from 22 countries—25 documentaries, 19 world cinema, 10 American indies, 10 Spanish-language films in “Vamos Al Cine,” 4 shorts programs, 1 children’s program, 1 student program and 1 “Out of The Earth” UFO program. The screenings all take place at eight intimate venues within walking of Sonoma’s historic town plaza. Many of these will offer wonderful samplings of local food, wine and beer along with the film.

SIFF has a lot to offer both locals and destination visitors.  Festival passes are the way to go if you’re interested in easy access to films, the marvelous parties, and the famous Backlot tent, SIFF’s unofficial hub, which keeps pass-holders satisfied with the finest wines, gourmet offerings and music. Click here to read about all the pass options and price points.   If you haven’t bought a festival pass and still want to see some films, individual single tickets are $15 when purchased in advance.  SIFF caters to pass holders and offers just a limited number of these individual tickets, which are available for most screenings, so NOW is the time to lock in those tickets before they are snapped up.

If you’re a gambler with a lot of time on your hands, you can show up at the festival and hang out in front of the screening venue and wait to buy a ticket for $10 cash after the pass holders and ticket pre-purchasers have been seated. The $10 tickets are not a sure thing they can be an awesome score.

Stay-tuned to ARThound for a full review of the line-up.  For now, the Big Nights—

Opening Night—Wednesday, April 2: The festival kicks off on Wednesday evening with a choice of two films and a first ever after hours party with live music from Sonoma’s own Vanguard Jazz Ensemble at Sonoma’s newest nightspot, Burgers & Vine.  Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemignway (2014) screens at the historic Sebastiani Theatre at 7:45 PM. After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he’s owed. Travelling with his best friend Dickie, Dom visits his crime boss (Demián Bichir) in the south of France to claim his reward and then reconnect with his long-lost daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clark). Screens with Peter McEvilley’s six minute French short, Le Sauvetage (2013) which features Peter Olate’s amazing performing rescue dogs. The dogs will give a brief live performance after the short.

 Jude Law (L) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (R) in a scene from Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” (2014), one of two opening night feature films at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival.  Just released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, Dom comes after the money he’s owed for keeping silent and protecting his boss Fontaine (Damian Bechir).  Brash, volatile, profane and angry, this is Jude Law at his complicated best.  Image: Foxlight


Jude Law (L) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (R) in a scene from Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” (2014), one of two opening night feature films at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival. Just released from prison after taking the fall for his boss, Dom (Law) comes after the money he’s owed for keeping silent and protecting his boss Fontaine (Damian Bechir). Brash, volatile, profane and angry, this is Jude Law at his complicated best. Image: Foxlight

Actor and writer Chris Lowell’s directorial debut, Beside Still Waters (2013) screens at 8:15 at Andrews Hall. An ode to the consoling power of deep and abiding friendships, the film observes one night among an intimately connected group of friends in their 20s who reunite at the family lake house of Daniel (played by “90210’s” Ryan Eggold), whose parents have just died in a car crash. Facing the imminent loss of the house, Daniel invites his pals to their old haunt for one last debauched weekend of drinking, dancing, and scheming. An accomplished fine-art photographer, the 28 year-old Lowell uses montages of his own black-and-white photos throughout “Beside Still Waters” to represent Daniel’s haunted memories. Writer & Producer Mo Narang will attend. Screens with Simon Christen’s Adrift (2013), a mesmerizing four minute and 35-second love letter to the fog that surrounds and often engulfs our Bay Area.  Christen worked for two years to capture perfect shots for this masterpiece.

 

Closing Night—Sunday, April 6: From director Amma Asante and the producer of Iron Lady, Damian Jones, comes Belle, a captivating period romance. The film screens at 6 PM at the Sebastiani and is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in 18th century England. Director Amma Assante is attending.

After the Closing Night film, at roughly 8:30 PM, people will gather in the Backlot tent for the presentation of the Jury and Audience Awards, the last hurrah of the festival.

To read ARThound’s festival coverage from March 12, 2014, click here.

Details: The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival is April 2-6, 2014.  Eight screening venues are all within walking distance of the central town plaza.  Street parking is ample.

Passes: Click here to read about and purchase all SIFF passes. Passes were offered at discounted rate until March 17, 2014 and are now full price.

Individual tickets: Click on the festival calendar and then select a film in the daily schedule. If individual tickets are offered for that film, you will see a “tickets” hyperlink which will appear beneath the screening information.

Festival Information: Click here or call 707 933-2600

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has 25 documentaries. “Man Up and Go” (2012), directed by Randy Bacon, speaks to the heart. When Roger went to Ethiopia to get his adopted daughter, she was 6 months old, but weighed only 7 pounds and was dying. Roger asked himself, “Is there a way out of this?” He called his dad and heard words that rocked his core: “Roger, man up! If she dies, at least she will die in the arms of a father.” Roger had to inspire men to be better husbands and fathers, so he launched the Man Up movement. Shot in the U.S., Ethiopia and Rwanda, “Man Up and Go” tells the remarkable story several ordinary men who stepped up to change the lives of orphaned children and were forever changed themselves. Photo of Roger Gibson with orphan at Return Ministries, Uganda, courtesy Wynne Elder

The 17th Sonoma International Film Festival has 25 documentaries. “Man Up and Go” (2012), directed by Randy Bacon, speaks to the heart. When Roger went to Ethiopia to get his adopted daughter, she was 6 months old, but weighed only 7 pounds and was dying. Roger asked himself, “Is there a way out of this?” He called his dad and heard words that rocked his core: “Roger, man up! If she dies, at least she will die in the arms of a father.” Roger had to inspire men to be better husbands and fathers, so he launched the Man Up movement. Shot in the U.S., Ethiopia and Rwanda, “Man Up and Go” tells the remarkable story several ordinary men who stepped up to change the lives of orphaned children and were forever changed themselves. Photo of Roger Gibson with orphan at Return Ministries, Uganda, courtesy Wynne Elder

 

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

Stay-tuned to ARThound for festival coverage.

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

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

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

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

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

The Film Line-Up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of Local Interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wine, Food and “Backlot”

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

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

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

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

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

Screening Locations:

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

Vintage House– 264 First Street East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screening Locations:

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

Vintage House– 264 First Street East

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