A trio of Sonomans has accomplished what seems like an impossible feat, producing an hour-long documentary film on the history of Sonoma Valley as a nonprofit venture on a shoe-string budget.
The result is Call of the Valley: The Enduring Lure of Sonoma, which will screen again on April 14, p.m. at the Sebastiani Theatre. The film debuted at the Sonoma International Film Festival, and has since sold out another showing.
The work is the brainchild of Julie Morrison who did not start out to be a film producer. Several years ago she made a documentary film on Sonoma’s winegrape-growing Sangiacomo family. Following that project and through contact with local historian and retired attorney Robert Parmelee, Morrison, a lover of historical research, decided that the Valley’s colorful tales should be documented and shared.
Nearly three years later, after dozens of hours of interviewing locals and uncovering thousands of images from numerous sources, Morrison has created a treasure of information on the birth of Sonoma; and its struggles, failures and successes.
“The film is geared to helping people – residents and visitors alike – understand the incredible scope and breadth of Sonoma’s past,” said Morrison. “It was at one time the most important place in the state north of Monterey, the California Republic was born here.”
Many local residents are featured in interviews about their families and how the valley has evolved over hundreds of years. Woven into the film are rare images of people, places and events and stories revealing a Sonoma Valley that few know.
Completing the project’s trio is local archivist Sandi Hansen who assisted Morrison and Parmelee. Video and audio experts Leslie and James Simmons of Shoot Blue Productions, in Sonoma County, shot and edited the film.
Call of the Valley shows on Saturday, March 29, at 9:30 a.m. in the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall on First Street West. Tickets for the film festival are available online at www.sonomafilmfest.org.
A second screening will follow after the festival, on April 5, at 6 p.m. at the Sebastiani Theatre.