Sonoma International Film Festival

March 25th, 2014


Press Contacts:                                          
Carol Marshall

Claudia Mendoza-Carruth

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Focus Turns to Filmmakers from Around the World
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Live Performances from Blues musicians featured in
Born in Chicago

Sonoma, CA (March 25, 2014) - The Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) is proud to announce the line-up for the upcoming 17th edition, which runs Wednesday, April 2, through Sunday, April 6.  Considered one of the nation’s top destination film festivals, SIFF presents over 100 films shown at 8 venues, all within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic plaza, in the heart of California Wine Country.  SIFF will host over 200 filmmakers from around the world, featuring the best food and wine from the Valley’s top restaurants and wineries.

“We are very proud of what this year’s festival has to offer,” said SIFF Executive Director Kevin McNeely. “Each day guarantees an amazing combination of films from 22 countries, parties featuring premium wines and food from local restaurants, an industry panel focusing on films that are important to make, and gracious hospitality offered in our stylish Backlot Tent…not to mention the most talented group of filmmakers and actors attending from around the world.”

This year’s Sonoma International Film Festival will open with two films:  Dom Hemingway, directed by Richard Shepard and starring Jude Law, Emilia Clarke, Richard E. Grant and Demián Bichir.  After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he’s owed.  In addition, the festival will present Beside Still Waters, written and directed by Chris Lowell, an ode to the consoling power of deep, abiding friendships. The film cuts between melancholic wistfulness and the sheer delight of living fully in the moment - drinking, dancing, scheming - with those people who know us best. Writer/producer Mohit Narang will attend.  

SIFF concludes with Belle, directed by Amma Asanté and featuring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Tom Wilkinson and Miranda Richardson.  This beautiful period romantic drama is about a mulatto girl brought up in British aristocracy.  

Festival Highlights & Local Offerings

As the Sonoma International Film Festival has grown over these past 17 years, it has established itself as a destination festival as well as continuing to expand and broaden its scope for filmmakers and guests alike.  Every film has been selected for the integrity of the storytelling, dedication to the filmmaking craft and always keeping the audience in mind.

Complementing its diverse and truly international program of independent cinema, SIFF offers a unique blend of world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners, making for an epicurean experience few film festivals in the world can match.  Renowned filmmakers, industry leaders and celebrities have enjoyed its intimate ambiance, while many filmmakers who have premiered at SIFF return with future projects.   Following are just a few special highlights the festival has to offer:

Opening Night Reception – SIFF is thrilled and honored to begin the Film Festival libations at the Backlot Tent in the middle of the historic Sonoma Plaza.  Attending filmmakers, festival sponsors and passholders will be treated to the epicurean delights of Saddles, the girl & the fig, Café La Haye, the Swiss Hotel, Della Santina, Centre du Vin, Epicurean Connection and Smoke Open Fire Grill, as well as bubbles by Gloria Ferrer, still wine from Envolve, Muscardini Cellars, Buena Vista Winery and Chateau St. Jean.
Known for its charm and unpretentious hospitality, what may well be the world's friendliest and most accessible film festival will include the return of such signature elements at the popular Backlot Tent in the center of the Sonoma Plaza, where film-goers mingle with filmmakers while enjoying food and wine from local chefs and winemakers.
Born in Chicago Film & Concert -In 1960, a group of white teenage Chicago musicians traveled to the city’s south-side music clubs to learn the Blues from the original masters. This is their story.  Bob Dylan, BB King, Eric Burdon, Barry Goldberg, Elvin Bishop, Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenitas and Mike Bloomfield.  Some of these incredible musicians will perform immediately following the film.  Sonoma Veteran’s Hall, tickets $55 film/concert, VIP tickets $100 (meet & greet/preferred reserved seating). Doors open at 7:30, film at 8:00 p.m. and concert at 10 pm.  Special event not included in festival pass.
Sonoma Valley High School Student Films, Thursday, April 3:  A highlight of the festival, where students of the Sonoma Valley High School Media Arts Program present their short films on the big screen.  Under the direction of teacher Peter Hansen, these kids write, shoot and edit films that focus on every aspect of their lives. The Media Arts Program, over a 12-year period, is not only graduating students into the nation’s top colleges/universities that specialize in filmmaking, it is also becoming a launch pad for their eventual careers. Not only this is a free event, you will come away understanding that tomorrow’s filmmakers are coming out of this unique educational program.  Sebastiani Theatre, 10:00 am – Noon.
Vintners, Growers & Groovers, Thursday, April 3 – An evening to celebrate Sonoma Valley following screenings of local filmmaker Casey Beck , who directed The Organic Life – farm to table documentary and The Fourth Noble Truth, written and directed by Gary McDonald and starring Harry Hamlin and Kristen Kerr.  A buffet of down-home food including fried chicken & riblettes by Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig, and a cookie bar provided by Crisp Bake Shop.  Wines will be provided by Chateau St. Jean and a Signature cocktail by Angel’s Envy Bourbon, music by the John Brothers Piano Quartet.  
Latin Fiesta, Friday, April 4 – A festive gathering of Latino community leaders, filmmakers from Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico, patrons and guests celebrate the Valley’s diversity with the rhythms of the Carlos Herrera Band, folkloric dances by the Quetzalen group and flavors by Rancho Viejo, La Casa, Maya & Bay Area Catering paired with Robledo wines at the Backlot Tent.  Following the Fiesta will be screening of the signature Cuban musical Chronic Love/Amor Crónico with the presence of Cuban actor/director Jorge Perugorria. This film is part of the Cuban focus on the Vamos al Cine program featuring the best of cinema en español.
Children’s Program, Saturday, April 5 – FORTISSIMO, a short about a charming 12-year old who rekindles the spirit and career of a Parisian mime performer. Then, film director and writer Peter McEvilley will present his captivating French short Le Souvetage (French w/English voiceover) featuring the amazingly talented Olate dogs who will be on hand to perform. After what promises to be a lively Q&A with Peter & dogs, will follow a live musical performance by members of “Everybody is a Star” under the direction of Nicholas Olate. This unique morning extravaganza will entertain young (6+) and old.  Free admission for children/$10 for parents. This show is courtesy of local producer Howard Sapper and Halo, Purely for Pets.
Queens & Cowboys LGBT Party, Saturday, April 5 – Celebration of namesake film focusing on being gay in the world of rodeo.  Wade Earp (descendant of Wyatt Earp) will be part of the celebration. This evening is supported by Out in the Vineyard (promoting positive LGBT lifestyles) and dot429 (gay/lesbian professional network) of San Francisco.  Festival ambiance with spirited music, wines by Stein Family Vineyard, the makers of same Sex Marriage wines…get ready to get down at our hoe down.  
Awards Ceremony, Sunday, April 6 – Announcement of the winners of the Jury and Audience Awards created by Cristaux International.

Film Categories & Sidebars

SIFF will continue its commitment to feature exciting, culturally enlightening, and entertaining programming and sidebars. 110 films from around the world will be brought together to form an incredibly unique and diverse festival experience.

Films from the following categories will be shown:

American Indies                
World Cinema
Environmental/Social Causes
Food & Wine
Sports & Action
Music & Arts
Cinema en Español


Best American Independent Feature
Best World Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Narrative Short
Best Documentary Short


The A3 Audience Award of $1,000 for Best Documentary
(named in honor of Amar A. Archbold, a longtime supporter and extraordinary Board member)
The Stolman Audience Award of $1,000 for the Best American Independent Feature
(named in memory of Caroline and Ed Stolman, founders of the Sonoma International Film Festival)
SIFF Audience Award Best World Feature of $1,000

The full list of films is below or at www.sonomafilmfest.org.  

Ticket Information:

With several pass options, SIFF can be enjoyed at different levels ranging from Day Passes and Cinema Passes to Cinema Soirée Passes to VIP Patron Passes for the full festival experience.  More information at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/film-festival-passes-html

About the Sonoma International Film Festival:

Now in its 17th year, the Sonoma International Film Festival (April 2-6, 2014) takes place in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country and features more than 110 hand-selected films including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, shorts and a showcase of Spanish language films. All films are shown at intimate venues within walking distance on Sonoma’s historic plaza. The Festival is dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world, and inspiring film lovers. Most films screened at the Festival have attending filmmakers and actors making for spirited Q&As.  This unique 5-day event offers world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners. Renowned filmmakers, industry leaders and celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams and Danny Glover, Demián Bichir and Mary-Louise Parker have walked the festival red carpet and enjoyed its intimate ambiance.

For more information, please visit www.sonomafilmfest.org.   Please apply for press credentials at http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/media-accreditation-application.html.

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