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Sonoma International Film Fest

Friday, April 6th, 2012 | Posted by

By DAN TAYLOR / The Press Democrat

It’s a film buff’s dream come true. For five days, movie maniacs can sample almost any style or genre — comedy, drama, documentary, shorts, full-length features, foreign language.

Michelle Yeoh stars in 'The Lady', one of the films that will be shown at the Sonoma International Film Festival. (photo courtesy of EuropaCorp)

It’s all there at the 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, presenting more than 120 films from 29 countries April 11-15, with most of the screenings at seven venues within walking distance of Sonoma Plaza.

“We’ve decided we’re willing to take a non-traditional approach,” said festival director Kevin McNeely. “We have more screening venues, and we’ve converted spaces to serve as theaters. We’re not going into the usual multiplex.”

Films range from international releases to small independent films, including work by local students, plus those in Lunafest, a festival of short films by, about and for women.

Visiting celebrities include Christopher Lloyd, co-star of the “Back to the Future” film trilogy, and director John Waters, best known for the 1988 film, “Hairspray.”

“We’re a destination film festival,” McNeely said. “This is a celebration of film, food and wine. All of our venues serve food, wine and/or beer.”

Admission costs $15 per film, except where otherwise noted. Some highlights, in chronological order:
“The Lady,” 2011, a French-English co-production directed by Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh as Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, elected leader of her home country of Burma but arrested by the military. Also, “Raise My Hands.” 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11. Sebastiani Theatre, 476 First St. E.

“Luckiest Man Alive,” a short film starring, written and directed by Matthew Temple, who grew up in the Sebastopol area and attended Summerfield Waldorf High School in Santa Rosa. It screens as part of a program titled “Not What You Think” at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, April 12 at the Sonoma Valley Women’s Club, 574 First St. E., and 8:15 p.m. April 14 at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St.

“Last Call,” a feature-length comedy co-starring Christopher Lloyd, and “Cadaver,” an animated short film featuring the voices of Christopher Lloyd and Kathy Bates at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12. Lloyd will attend a tribute in his honor at 8:30 p.m. at Sebastiani Theatre. (“Last Call” screens again at 12:45 p.m. April 14 at Murphy’s Irish Pub, 464 First Street E.)

“Outro,” a short fantasy film by Ky Newman, a senior in the Media Arts Program at Sonoma Valley High School. It runs as part of a program called “The Sixth Sense,” at 1 p.m. April 13 and 3:30 p.m. April 15. Vintage House, 264 First St. E.

— The international premiere of the the first full-length animated feature to be produced entirely in Scotland, “Sir Billi,” featuring the voice of Sir Sean Connery and a title song by Dame Shirley Bassey. 5:30 p.m. April 13. Sebastiani Theatre. (Repeats at 1 p.m. April 14 at the Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room, 389 Fourth St. E.)

“Born & Raised,” an independent feature film produced, directed and edited by Joshua Dragge, who like fellow filmmaker Matthew Temple, grew up in the Sebastopol area and attended Summerfield Waldorf High School in Santa Rosa. The story follows a young man in a seaside town who learns about love, luck and life from his grandfather. 7:15 p.m. April 13 at the Sonoma Valley Women’s Club, and 6 p.m. April 14 at Vintage House.

“Harvest,” a documentary by John Beck, follows five Sonoma County family wineries, an all-woman grape picking crew from Mexico and an amateur home winemaker through the 2011 harvest season. 5 p.m. April 13 and 3:15 p.m. April 14. Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room.

La Quinceañera Film Fiesta, new this year, presents 15 Spanish-language films to celebrate the festival’s 15th anniversary. 8 p.m. April 13, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. April 14, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. April 15. Sonoma Charter School, 17202 Highway 12, between Boyes Hot Springs and Agua Caliente. $1 per film. Child care available. Information: 935-1032.

“Derby, Baby!” — a documentary on women’s flat-track roller derby, including an interview with Sonoma County resident and Sonoma International Film Festival co-founder Jerry Setzer, a roller derby promoters whose father, Leo, invented the sport in the 1930s. 3 p.m. April 14. Sebastiani Theatre.

— John Waters will perform the latest version of his evolving one-man stage show, “This Filthy World,” which he has done at colleges, museums, film festivals and comedy clubs around the world. 8:15 p.m. April 14. Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall, 126 First St. W., Sonoma. There also will be a dinner with Waters before his performance and a party in his honor afterward. $25-$175. sonomafilmfest.org/john-waters, 206-4484.

“The Source (La Source Des Femmes)”, 2011, Belgium and France, a war-of-the-sexes comedy about a village where the women threaten to withhold sexual favors if their men refuse to fetch water from a remote well. 6:30 p.m. April 15. Sebastiani Theatre.

Individual tickets cost $15. Festival pass prices range from $175 to $1,500. Information: 933-2600, sonomafilmfest.org

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. See his ARTS blog at arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

Writer Spotlight

Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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