The 14th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival announced this year’s award winners at the Festival’s Backlot Tent on Sunday, April 10, 2011. The Festival, held from April 6 to 10, 2011, screened 90 films including 28 feature length documentaries, 8 short docs, 17 feature films, 2 world premiere music videos, 11 animated shorts and 24 narrative shorts. Sonoma’s increasingly popular Festival continues to expand its diverse programming of quality independent and foreign films.
Festival Director Kevin McNeely said, “What started out as a Film Festival that hosted great parties has grown into a festival where the films equal our wine country hospitality.” Director of Programming Cevin Cathell added, “We are incredibly proud of the caliber of films we screened this year. The entire event, including our Tribute and Lifetime Achievement Award to Susan Sarandon, has been well-received by filmmakers, film-lovers and the community. This year has really raised the bar.”
GOOD DAY FOR IT (USA) by director Nick Stagliano, starring Hal Holbrook and Robert Patrick, won Audience Favorite Feature. A thriller with the right balance of intensity, tenderness and occasional humor, this film has nuanced performances from a veteran cast.
The Audience Favorite Documentary was MISS REPRESENTATION (USA) by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. An exploration of women’s under-representation in positions of power, Newsom’s film challenges the limited and often disparaging portrayal of women in the media.
THE BRIDGE (USA), Audience Favorite Short, was directed by Philipp Wolter. Finding your way home means knowing what is missing.
Program Director Cevin Cathell gave special recognition to DARWIN (USA) a documentary by Nick Brandestini, which had two sold-out screenings and had to have a third screening added Sunday night in response to word-of-mouth buzz for this documentary about an isolated community at the end of a weathered road in Death Valley, CA.
NARRATIVE FEATURE AWARDS
The jury selected ABSENTIA (USA) from acclaimed OCULUS director Mike Flanagan as Best Narrative Feature. The Festival’s first horror film tells the story of a woman and her sister who link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances.
Best Very Independent Feature was FALLING OVERNIGHT (USA) directed by Conrad Jackson, starring Parker Croft; a touching film about a young man who falls in love the night before he starts treatment for a brain tumor.
ANITA (Argentina) won Best International Feature. Directed by Marcos Carnevale, the Festival’s first film from Argentina is about a young woman with Down’s Syndrome who gets lost in the streets of Buenos Aires. This touching film shows us that the people we think we have to give to, give much more in return.
Cevin Cathell, Program Director, called 2011 “The Year of the Docs.” With so many powerful entries, the documentary competition set the bar high.
Outstanding Investigative Documentary went to THE SEARCH FOR MICHAEL ROCKEFELLER (USA) directed by Fraser Clarke Heston. An investigative look at the disappearance of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s 23 year-old son in 1961.
Jazz legend Vince Guaraldi is the subject of the Best Documentary Feature by Andrew Thomas & Toby Gleason, THE ANATOMY OF VINCE GUARALDI (USA). The film is a musical journey through the brief life and times of the celebrated composer who pioneered the crossover of jazz and pop music.
SHORT FILM AWARDS