Features ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


15th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival

Posted on April 11, 2012 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Executive Director’s Note:

It’s our 15th anniversary, our La Quinceañera! We have 123 films from 30 countries, an unparallel program that will capture your hearts and minds. I imagine that the late and beloved Festival founder, Carolyn Stolman, knew that Sonoma Valley would support and help sustain a film festival that would be around for decades after her demise. Carolyn with the support of community leaders like Jerry Seltzer and Steve Kyle established the proper foundation to get us to our 15th year. Thank you!

The Festival’s Opening and Closing films come from the French director Luc Besson, THE LADY and THE SOURCE (producer credit), respectively. By the way, thank you local vintner and Hollywood revered screenwriter Robert Kamen, Mr. Besson’s writing partner, for helping us secure these two incredible films. We are honored to have many World and U.S. Premieres with attending filmmakers and actors. More about our films in the “Programming Notes” that follow in the Program Guide.

The Backlot Tent (Sonoma Plaza) will be full of delicious wines, beers, food and music for your enjoyment in between films. The tent is ideally located in the middle of our seven Plaza screening venues. The Sebastiani trolley will whisk you from the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art screening room to the Vintage House of shorts, docs and features to the Barrel Room Theater at the Sebastiani Winery. Festival merchandise and the VIP Lounge will both be located in the Backlot Tent.

The La Quinceañera Film Fiesta kicks off on Friday evening with a private reception for attending actors and filmmakers. The Charter School Theater located in Aqua Caliente (Hwy12) will play Spanish-speaking films (with English subtitles) from Friday night through Sunday evening. These sensational Spanish language films will also be featured in the seven Plaza screening venues. Please do not miss out on this special program that honors our Sonoma Valley Latino community.

The theme of Saturday night at the Veterans Building is sizzling Cuban themed Sonoma Supper Club presented by Chateau St. Jean. After a special Cuban cuisine dinner created by Chef Carlo Cavallo (ticket information on Festival web site), honorary guest, John Waters will perform his one man, vaudeville show, “This Filthy World”. Liam Mayclem, CBS (San Francisco) entertainment reporter will be the evening’s MC. Mr. Waters will receive the SIFF Award of Excellence and with that, the After Party begins! The 617 Band from Minnesota has put the show on the road and will provide cool music for dancing and rabble rousing! Fat Magic (our favorite Austrians) will also be performing. This evening promises to be alive with conversations of festival favorite films, newly found friendships, and spirited enjoyment of incredible Sonoma Valley wines and foods.

All of us have planned for months in anticipation of your arrival for our 15th anniversary. Ginny, Mary Catherine, Leslie, Pat, Brooke, Peter, Donna, Celeste, Jennifer, Mary, Kim and Steve have spent countless hours preparing for what will be our best Festival to date. So Break Some Bread, Sip Some Wine, See some Flicks and Live The Sonoma Dream!

Kevin W. McNeely
Executive Director

Four unique panel discussions that are free and open to the public.

Studio 51

Vintage House Dining Room ~ Saturday, April 14 ~ 2:00PM
The 2012 SIFF UFO Sidebar comprises of a film screening, a multimedia presentation & a panel discussion called Studio 51. The panel will comment on the films, comment on their involvement with the UFO phenomenon, and take questions from the audience. Moderated by Jim Ledwith, the panelists are include Dr. Gordon Spear, Stephen Bassett and Bryce Zabel.

Teached Vol 1
Vintage House ~ Saturday, April 14 ~ 3:00PM
A multimedia panel discussion covering the state of education in the United States. More than half a century after Brown v. Board of Education integrated U.S. schools, African-American and Hispanic students still perform far behind white students, and urban, minority youth are dropping out in record numbers. This panel features a trilogy of short films with an education expert with CA-focus, Arun Ramanathan (Executive Director the Education Trust West), Malcolm McClain, local middle school “teacher of the year” and the filmmaker Katie Amis.
Finance & Distribution
Sonoma Community Center, Room 110 ~ Saturday, April 14 ~ 4:30PM
For filmmakers and those interested in the business side of making films, there is a panel on “How To Finance & Distribute Your Film,” featuring First Republic Bank’s Melanie Krinsky, senior managing director of motion pictures & television finance; Magnolia Picture’s Arianne Ayers, director of publicity & marketing; and Ostrow & Company’s founder/CEO Page Ostrow.

Filmmakers & winemakers: much in common
Murphy’s Pub’s Snug ~ Sunday April 15th ~ 2:30PM
Meet a group of well-established and world-renowned filmmakers and winemakers: Robert Kamen (screenwriter-5th Element, Karate Kid, Transporter(s) & owner of Kamen Vineyards), Robert Rex (Deerfield Ranch Winery owner & winemaker), James Suckling (filmmaker, Wine Spectator editor and Founder of Cigar Aficionado), and James Orr (film director-3 Men And A Baby, Sister Act). James Suckling will moderate a conversation to discuss the similarities between making movies and making wine.

The Sun has its eye on these films:

Charlton Heston and Ben Hur: A Personal Journey

A behind-the-scenes look at Charlton Heston’s life while filming BEN HUR using never before seen 16mm footage shot by his wife Lydia Clarke Heston. The footage comes from an inventory of Charlton Heston’s holdings after his death in 2008 which turned up three full 16 mm reels of color home movies shot on the set of the Oscar-winning biblical epic. In addition to extensive behind-the-scenes footage taken during the family’s nine-month stay in Rome, the film includes preparations for the famous chariot race shot by director William Wyler’s cameras. Fraser Heston is featured reading excerpts from a diary his father kept during production of “Ben-Hur.”

USA | 78 min. | Dir. Laurent Bouzerueau * Filmmaker in attendance

Thursday, April 12 (8:15 pm) • Mia’s Kitchen @ Sonoma Community Center
Friday, April 13 (12:30 pm) • New Belgium Pub at the Woman’s Club

El Infierno (Hell)

Mexico 2010: “El Benny,” is deported from the U.S. Upon returning to his village, he finds his hometown devastated by violence, corruption and economic crisis. With no alternative, and to support his family, he gets involved in drug dealing and, for the first time in his life, he has plenty of money, women and power. However, he will find out soon enough that even though a criminal way of life is tempting, it does not always pay off.

MEXICO | 145 min | Dir. Luis Estrada

Thursday, April 12 (8:30 p.m.) • Murphy’s Irish Pub Snug
Saturday, April 14 (9:15 p.m.) • Sonoma Charter School

The Girls in The Band

THE GIRLS IN THE BAND tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists and their fascinating, ground breaking journeys from the late 30’s to the present day. These incredibly talented women endured sexism, racism and diminished opportunities for decades, yet continued to persevere, inspire and elevate their talents in a field that seldom welcomed them. Today, a new breed of gifted young women are taking their rightful place in the world of jazz which can no longer deny their talents.

USA | 83 min. | Dir. Judy Chaikin * Filmmaker in attendance

Friday, April 13 (2:30 pm) • Sebastiani Theatre
Sunday, April 15 (3:30 pm) • Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room


‘Pleasantly Plump’ teenager Tracy Turnblad achieves her dream of becoming a regular on the Corny Collins Dance Show. Now a teen hero, she starts using her fame to speak out for the causes she believes in, most of all integration. In doing so, she earns the wrath of the show’s former star, Amber Von Tussle, as well as Amber’s manipulative, pro-segregation parents. The rivalry comes to a head as Amber and Tracy vie for the title of Miss Auto Show 1963.

USA | 92 min. | Dir. John Waters

Friday, April 13 (10:30 am) • Vintage House

Sir Billi

An aging, skateboarding veterinarian Sir Billi goes above and beyond the call of duty fighting villainous policemen and powerful lairds in a battle to save an illegal fugitive – Bessie Boo the beaver! An heart warming and action packed family movie where thrilling car chases, heroic skydiving and daring stunts from this octogenarian, fueled with encounters with a hostile submarine, will keep you at the edge of your seat! Everyone wants a grandpa like Sir Billi, the Guardian of the Highlands! Sir Billi is voiced by Sir Sean Connery.

England, Scotland | 80 min. | Dir. Sasha Hartmann * Filmmaker in attendance

Friday, April 13 (5:30 pm) • Sebastiani Theatre
Saturday, April 14 (1:00 pm) • Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room

Sponsored by Alain Pinel

The Source (La source des femmes)

The women of a remote village have to trek up a steep hill to fetch water from the source. With the support of her husband, Sami, beautiful young Leila suggests they all go on strike. No more hugs! No more sex! A love strike until the men pipe water to the village. The men’s amused disdain turns to dismay then despair as the women’s apparently hopeless cause gathers support, making the village a laughing stock.

Belgium/Italy/France | 135 min. | dir. Radu Mihaileanu

Sunday, April 15 (6:30 pm) • Sebastiani Theatre

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