Edhat
npr edvertisers
visitors movie times

Santa Barbara Weather: 54.3°F | Humidity: 97% | Pressure: 29.94in (Rising) | Conditions: Clear | Wind Direction: North | Wind Speed: 0.0mph [see map]

Free Newsletter
Advertise
  login You create the news! Send your news item to ed@edhat.com
 
 
login
    15816 Subscribers
      684 Paid (4.3%)
     5 Comments
     4 Commenters
     22520 Page Views
 
 

 
Boxtales 20 Year Anniversary Festival
Boxtales 20 Year Anniversary Festival
 
The Winehound
The Winehound
 
Advertise on Edhat
Advertise on Edhat
 
News Events Referrals Deals Classifieds Comments About

Sonoma International Film Festival
updated: Apr 24, 2010, 10:30 AM

By Dedicated Staff

Thursday

Early last Thursday morning, the dedicated staff of edhat.com jumped into the green car and headed to Sonoma. We were on assignment to cover the Sonoma International Film Festival. Cevin Cathell, Santa Barbara resident and former Program Director for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), and current Program Director for the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) had invited Edhat up for a weekend of film and fun.

The wind was in our hair, and the sun was behind us. We were free as birds on the open road. Even with the wrong transition onto the 580 (you said go this way! No I didn't, I was just pointing at that bird!), the gridlock on the 880/101 interchange, and a brief visit to a Paso winery, we wheeled into the historic Sonoma town square with plenty of time for press check-in, hotel check-in, and to change for the Opening Night activities.

According to Wikipedia, Sonoma's town square, at 8 acres, is the largest in California. A plaque on a rock sits in one corner of the square, commemorating Sonoma as the capital of the short-lived California Republic. Sonoma County is also the home to more than 250 wineries.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

We arrived for the opening night film at the beautiful and historic Sebastiani Theatre on the square. What's this? Wine was being served to those waiting in line. We sensed that this would be one tough assignment.

The Opening Night film, Coals to Newcastle, was about a Jazz/Funk band out of Leeds, England called, The New Mastersounds. The movie was a lot of fun, followed by a Q&A by members of the band, who were all in attendance. But the coolest thing was that the band performed at the party afterward. And there was wine.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

Friday

Morning came early on Friday. The dedicated staff thinks that maybe it was the hard work we put in at the party the night before - taking pictures and whatnot. Maybe it was the whatnot.

We made our way to one of the Festival's six venues to see the first of three Shorts Programs. The shorts were heavy on the humor, which made for a good chuckle early in the day, and most of the filmmakers were in attendance, making for a great Q&A afterward. We left the building and entered the beautiful day, thinking only of basking in the unbelievable green and the vibrant colors of all the blooming trees of Sonoma. But there was no time to stop. We headed back into the center of town for a 1:00 screening of Outsourced, a very sweet film about … outsourcing. But first, a quick stop in the Hospitality Tent to see what was happening. Food, information, and - oh look! - wine tasting! Dozens of the area's many, many wineries were in attendance over the weekend, pouring some of their finest for film festival patrons. Hey - it was after noon and we were just being polite.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

At 3:00, we rushed down the street toward the Sebastiani Winery for an industry mixer. There, we found out some interesting things. One, the winery is gorgeous and hosts many weddings and special events. The dedicated staff even met a guy who claimed to have been the groom in the winery's first wedding. Two, we were told that in the festival all but three filmmakers were in attendance. And three - look over there - and over there, and there. It seemed that many of the people at the party were folks from our little blue town by the big blue sea, Santa Barbara! And most were Edhat subscribers, no less!

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

Of course there was Cevin and her husband, Peter Stricker. Paul & Kathryne Abramson were there, volunteering and helping taste the wine. Ilene Kahn Power (Kahn Power Pictures) & Derek Power (The Derek Power Company) were husband and wife panelists and jury-members. Mahil Senathirajah and Jackie Spafford - whose pictures the dedicated staff has taken hundreds of times at the SBIFF - were serving as moderators and presenters. David Garber (Lantern Lane Entertainment), serving as a panelist, was there with his wife, Enid.

Also in attendance were Chrissy Bailey, Chris Johnston, Sienna Johnston, and Paula Cavagnaro - friends of Cevin Cathell who have all moved up north in the years since they worked for the SBIFF.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

It was the biggest gathering of Santa Barbara residents since we were all evacuated from our homes last May.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

A few wine tastings and some yummy snacks later, we emerged into the late afternoon sunshine. No time to go to the hotel and change, we had a First Ever Sneak Peek screening to attend! The Singularity is Near is a part documentary, part fictional story by futurist and inventor, Ray Kurzweil, based on his book of the same name. It stars Pauley Perrette from NCIS. Briefly, it deals with theories of nanotechnology and Kurzweil's predictions of the effects of exponentially increasing technology on the fast-changing world in which we live. OMG! The future really doesn't look so bright.

Ray Kurzweil was in the room for a discussion and a Q&A. Things got a little surreal when Wavy Gravy, of Woodstock fame, and the subject of a documentary in the festival, asked Kurzweil a question. The dedicated staff needed a drink.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

Luckily, there was a party just down the street at a local wine shop. And guess what? There was lots of wine!

Saturday

Much like endurance trainers preparing for an Iron Man, the dedicated staff of edhat.com was back in town by 9:00 am on Saturday. We were at first torn by the conflicting Yoga for Filmmakers class being offered at the same time as our recommended film, but wisely chose to see City LAX: An Urban Lacrosse Story, which had its World Premier at the Festival. The inspirational documentary told of a group of inner-city elementary school-aged kids from Denver, whose very dedicated teacher introduced them to the game of Lacrosse, a mostly white sport, and their journey toward excellence in the game. The teacher, the filmmaker, a couple of the kids from the film, and two of the kids' moms were there. It was heartwarming to see the dedication and love by and for that teacher, and to know that educators of that magnitude are among us.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

It was almost noon by the time we left the film, and we were anxious to see another of the shorts programs. As we passed by the town square, we glanced longingly at the Hospitality Tent as we speed-walked to our next destination, the 12:00 Shorts Program III. This program was packed, with all but one of the films represented by a filmmaker or actor. There seemed to be more Shorts in this program, and lots of pleasant surprises.

One of the great things about the Sonoma Film Festival was the accessibility of the filmmakers, and the camaraderie between them. This is a festival that feels like it's all about the films. Filmmakers were everywhere, and were more than happy to talk about film - theirs and others. What an experience to be sitting in the back row with the filmmaker while his film was being screened - luckily, we liked it!

The Shorts Q&A lasted a while and our dedicated tummies were growling. Just then, Cevin Cathell appeared, inviting us all to a party celebrating short-film makers (not short filmmakers), just after the Q&A. Outside, we were greeted by little boxes of Asian-style noodles…and wine!!

We finally had a few minutes for a little wine tasting back at the Hospitality Tent. It had been minutes since our last glass of wine. There, we chatted with other happy attendees and sampled some really delicious wine. And some ice cream. Because, what goes better with wine than ice cream?

At 5:30, after dashing back to our home away from home to put on our fancy party clothes, we entered the Sebastiani Theatre for a tribute to the original super-model, Lauren Hutton. She wandered in through the front door with everyone else and sat on the stage chatting with film festival director Kevin McNeely just like a couple of friends in their living room. After some of the questions, she would look into the audience and ask, "Robin, how should I answer that?" In response, a silly answer would issue forth from the second row. Finally, Robin Williams came out of the audience to conduct the interview, which was a lot more like a monologue in true Robin Williams fashion. Hilarious!

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

The party on Saturday evening was held at a beautiful culinary institute a few blocks from the town square. There was food and music and, of course, wine. And these lovely pink-colored drinks that tasted like lemonade, and were served in martini glasses. At least one member of the dedicated staff truly believed that they were lemonade, and we will say no more about that.

And just as we were thinking about calling it a day, we were whisked away to a party where all of the filmmakers were cutting loose with a band and food and … don't make me say it.

Sunday

Sunday morning was greeted with exhaustion by the dedicated staff. We decided to tell Ed we were writing up our notes, and instead sip cups of coffee next to a nearby creek and absorb the ambiance of our beautiful surroundings. Then off to our first movie of the day, Dressed, about a young fashion designer in New York who, against the odds of homelessness and abuse, pursued his dream.

Our second film of the day, Snow and Ash, had just won the top award at the Slam Dance Film Festival. Since we had spent a good amount of time chatting with the filmmaker and one of the stars the night before, it was on our "must-see" list.

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

We wandered into the Hospitality Tent for a quick bite to eat and noted that it was already 5:00 pm and we hadn't had any wine yet.

The Closing night film, the Joneses, features Lauren Hutton and has already been released in selected theatres. We would guess, though, that Ms. Hutton herself was not in attendance at those theatres. She sat on the edge of the stage afterward, wearing her little yellow slippers, and spoke candidly about aspects of the film and how scared she had been to act after 20 years away from the industry.

After the film, the theatre emptied into the town square as all the filmgoers headed to the Hospitality Tent for the awards ceremony and a final glass of wine. As each award was handed out, we all congratulated the winners and consoled those who didn't take home a prize this time. We were like old friends after a long weekend at summer camp.

Warning - Gushing Ahead:

The Sonoma International Film Festival was more fun than a (wine) barrel full of monkeys! Sonoma is beautiful, the people who live there are warm and welcoming, Kevin McNeely, Cevin Cathell and rest of the film festival staff and volunteers were enthusiastic and friendly, the films were great, the venues were close together, the food was good and plentiful, and of course, the wine was awesome!

BONUS PICS:

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

Send this picture as a postcard

# # # #

 

2 comments on this article. Read/Add

  See more articles like this

# # # #

 

Send To a Friend
Your Email
Friend's Email

Top of Page | Old News Archives | Printer-Friendly Page

  Home Subscribe FAQ Jobs Contact copyright © 2003-2014  
Edhat, Inc.