2008 Program Guide coverSonoma, Calif., April 13, 2008 – The Sonoma Valley Film Festival presented nine film awards, following a celebratory week of food, wine, parties and premieres around the historic Sonoma town plaza in the heart of California wine country. The 11th annual Festival tallied the largest audience in its history, welcomed over 200 filmmakers and special guests, and screened more than 75 films from around the world.

Sonoma Valley Film Festival audiences voted on their favorite narrative and documentary films, and official juries awarded honors in five categories.  At a packed Awards Ceremony, winners were presented with major cash awards and special prizes, as well as beautiful hand-blown glass wine decanters individually designed by Ryan Blythe and Blythe Glass Studios.

“The average scores in our audience balloting were our highest ever,” announced Executive Director Marc Lhormer, “and our jurors had a very difficult time selecting the winners due to the outstanding high quality of this year’s program of new independent films.”


  • The Neural-THX Award for Best Narrative Film, in conjunction with the McNeelys, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, was awarded to: AMEXICANO, directed by Matthew Bonifacio. A hard working illegal immigrant and a blue color Italian American from queens form an unexpected bond that transcends language barriers and racial prejudice.
  • Best Documentary Feature: BEYOND BELIEF, directed by Beth Murphy. Two ordinary soccer moms widowed by 9/11 make a courageous journey to desperate Afghan villages and encounter widows whose lives have been ravaged by war, poverty and oppression.
  • Best Animated Short (any length): ZOOLOGIC, directed by Nicole Mitchell. A fussy zookeeper maintains strict order in his zoo until a fat little penguin refuses to be shaped to fit.
  • Best Live Action Short (under 15 minutes): THE POSTMAN, directed by Adam Bostock. A small act of kindness sparks an unlikely friendship.
  • Best Live Action Short (15 minutes or longer): NO. 6, directed by Robin Larson. Ron Perlman stars as a mysterious man seeking redemption from his dangerous past.  
  • Audience Award for Favorite Documentary Feature: ADJUST YOUR COLOR: THE TRUTH OF PETEY GREENE, directed by Loren Mendell. Don Cheadle narrates the story about Petey Greene, the original shock jock who overcame poverty, drug addition and prison time to “tell it like it is.” 
  • Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Feature: ELVIS AND ANABELLE, directed by Will Geiger. In rural West Texas, an unlicensed young mortician re-animates a dead beauty queen with his kiss sparking a tabloid media frenzy.
  • Special Jury Prize for Documentary Feature: UNSETTLED, directed by Adam Hootnick.
  • Special Jury Prize for Narrative Feature: ELVIS AND ANABELLE, directed by Will Geiger.
  • Special Mentions for Outstanding Comedic Shorts: JUST A SLICE, directed by Tim Tommasino; and I’M PRETTY, TOO, directed by Matt Jespersen.


A special award was also presented by Film Society Chairman Kevin McNeely to honor Sonoma Valley Film Festival Executive Director Marc Lhormer & Co-Director Brenda Lhormer.



Narrative Feature Jury:


  1. Kirk Honeycutt, Chief Film Critic, Hollywood Reporter
  2. Chris Gore, Founder, Film Threat
  3. Michael Jones, Managing Editor Film Festivals, Variety


Documentary Jury:


  1. Steve Shor, Writer and Producer
  2. Marla Lewin Halperin, Producer, Writer and Publicist
  3. Christina Khuly, Creative Director, Rogues Harbor Studios 


Live Action Shorts Jury:


  1. David Pierce, Actor
  2. Paul Martin, Writer, Director, Producer
  3. Jennifer Sloan, Executive Director, Arts Council of Sonoma County


Animated Shorts Jury:


  1. A.J. Riebli, Pixar
  2. James Murphy, Pixar
  3. Paul Topolos, Pixar



Presented by MBT, the anti-shoe, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival welcomes filmmakers and film lovers from Sonoma and around the world to an intimate and luxurious extended weekend, pairing great food, fine wine and the year’s best of the best new independent films.

Acclaimed as a “sun-drenched, wine-soaked cinematic magic carpet ride!” (IFC NEWS), the festival annually welcomes guests to enjoy film premieres, specialty events, luxurious parties, fine wine and food pairings – and casual mingling with top filmmakers and celebrity guests in an all-walkable Festival Village around the Sonoma town plaza.

For more information about the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, visit www.SonomaFilmFest.org or call (707) 933-2600.

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