Film Festival makes special summertime cameo

Posted on July 26, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The movies are back, and so are the parties. The Sonoma International Film Festival returns to an in-person format with SIFF Summerfest, August 5-8. 

The festival offers 40 narratives, documentaries and short films from 15 countries, screening at person the Sebastiani Theatre and Andrews Hall (at the Sonoma Community Center). There will also be two outdoor winery screenings with live music, and the SIFF Screen & Cuisine, a dinner, live music and film special event. 

From the documentary ‘Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free’

The festival is traditionally held in late March, but Covid forced a cancellation in 2020, and a virtual festival this year. Artistic Director Kevin W. McNeely was anxious to get back to the live format as soon as possible. 

“We wanted to be the first to bring folks together again in Sonoma,” McNeely said. “While our virtual festivals over the past two years were successful and expanded our audience, there is nothing quite like the collective experience of enjoying new films, and our unique brand of live entertainment, in person with others.”

“We’ve been a cultural gem for over 24 years, providing the best in film, food, wine and fun, and we intend to deliver on that commitment,” he said. 

Fifteen films are making their premieres at SIFF Summerfest, McNeely said, and half of all films were made by or about women. Highlighted community favorites include the UFO Program, the Sonoma Valley High School Media Arts Student Showcase and a Buster Keaton silent film accompanied by live music from Sonoma Hometown Band Music Director John Partridge. 

Opening Night kicks off on Thursday, August 5 with the  6 p.m. screening of the documentary “Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free. The San Francisco-based tribute band Petty Theft will play acoustically prior to the screening at Sebastiani Theatre, and then play two sets at an after party at  Reel & Brand. 

The full lineup of films and special events is online at SIFF Summerfest 2021. Limited availability Patron ($525) and Film ($100) passes are on sale. Individual tickets for the Opening Night party, Friday and Sunday night outdoor winery screenings, and Saturday’s SIFF Screen & Cuisine and Music & Movie Only are also available to purchase now. Individual film screenings may be available, based on capacity and passholder priority. 

Christoper Lloyd and William Shatner in ‘Senior Moment’



Friday, August 6 | 6 PM PT: Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to Chateau St. Jean Winery to enjoy live music before the outdoor screening of the just released romantic comedy SENIOR MOMENT starring William Shatner, Jean Smart, Christopher Lloyd and Esai Morales. SIFF SUMMERFEST Patron Passholders receive a special library wine tasting experience. Food and wine available for purchase. 

Saturday, August 7 | 6 PM PT: SIFF Screen & Cuisine features a reception with select wines from Sojourn Cellars, a film inspired dinner from Top Chef All Star and Folktable Restaurant Consulting Executive Chef Casey Thompson at Cornerstone. A live music set from San Francisco cult surf band THE MERMEN will play prior to the screening of THE VENTURES: STARS ON GUITARS, the documentary about the #1 instrumental rock band in the world, who created the iconic hits “ Wipe Out” and “Hawaii 5-0”. The event is included with the SIFF Patron Pass; individual tickets for Screen & Cuisine, as well as a Music & Movie Only ticket are available on a limited basis based on capacity. 

Sunday, August 8 | 6 PM PT: Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to SIFF SUMMERFEST Closing Night at Viansa Winery featuring live music, Viansa’s pizza oven and wine are available for purchase, prior to the North American premiere of Australian feature film JUNE AGAIN, a heartfelt dramedy about a matriarch’s reprieve from illness who brings her family together again. 


Forty new and #SIFF2021 award winning films screen at Sebastiani Theatre and Andrews Hall starting at 9 AM PT daily Friday through Sunday. Filmmakers and guests slated to attend include Ruth Meehan (director of SIFF2021 audience award winner THE BRIGHT SIDE making its live West Coast premiere), Tom Waller (director of THE CAVE), Troy Christian (director of A PERFECT VINTAGE making its live World Premiere), and Kevin Smokler (director of VINYL NATION). Notable new indy favorite films include FRIES, THE MOVIE produced by Chrissy Teigan, GIRLS CAN’T SURF directed by Christopher Neilus , MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY from director Marion Hill, SON OF MONARCHS from director Alexis Gambis, and VOODOO MacBETH which are all screening in Sonoma for the first time. 


Saturday, August 7 | 4:45 PM PT at Sebastiani Theatre: Sonoma Hometown Band Music Director John Partridge will play live music set to the 1922 silent comedy film COPS starring and written by the iconic Buster Keaton. 

Saturday, August 7 | 5:30 PM PT at Sebastiani Theatre: The popular 10 years and running UFO Program is back with THE PHENOMENON produced by Sonoman Jim Ledwith. Narrated by Peter Coyote, this feature length documentary pieces together over 70 years of information to tell the definitive UFO history. Free to the general public. 

Sunday, August 8 | 12 PM PT at Andrews Hall: SIFF’s signature initiative — the Sonoma Valley High School Media Arts Program — also returns with this year’s Student Showcase film compilation featuring 26 films made by 38 students. Free to the general public, student and family reception to follow in the Peace Garden. 

The Sonoma International Film Festival is a 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world, and inspiring film lovers. Blending a program of world-class film, food, wine and fun, SIFF is celebrating its 25th anniversary March 23-27, 2022. 

SIFF’s signature initiative, the Media Arts Program started at Sonoma Valley High School in 2002, introduces students to the process of storytelling and provides the resources for them to create films. SIFF has granted more than $650,000 to the program since its inception. 


2 thoughts on “Film Festival makes special summertime cameo

  1. I think there is a miss-type in the 3rd paragraph about the festival. If says “but Covid forced a cancellation in 2019,”
    I think it should read, “but Covid forced a cancellation in 2020,”

  2. You’re right; it only seems much longer.
    The typo has been fixed. Thanks!

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