The cars and crowds and backlot are going up around town – the Sonoma International Film Festival is in our midst. This year, the festival marks its 15th birthday with a roster of more than 120 documentaries, shorts and feature films, hailing from 29 countries. The problem: what are you going to see.
The festival's got a few creative ways to break down your game plan: check out Festival Director Kevin McNeely's list of 'films for hipsters' here, or, for the boot-cut jean set, select your attendance list by favorite tweet – follow some of this years filmmakers on twitter here.
Or, maybe you'd like to take our word for it – here's our survival guide to the can't-miss action.
THURSDAY, APRIL 12
Student Film Showcase, 9 a.m.
One of the best parts of each years film festival is watching the showcase of student films, produced in the . The kids' work is top notch, and you never know when you might be seeing the work of Pixar's future film star – it's happened before.
Last Call, , 6:30 p.m.
This is the world premiere of Last Call, a comedy about two underachieving siblings forced to step up and run the family pub to save their uncle (Christopher Lloyd) from jail time. Join festival organizers after for a special ceremony and Q&A honoring Lloyd, best known for his roles as 'Reverend' Jim Ignatowski on the sitcom Taxi and woebegone inventor 'Doc Brown' in the Back to the Future trilogy.
FRIDAY, APRIL 13
'Believe it Shorts,' Sebastiani Winery, 11:45 a.m.
Though shorts are an oft unappreciated genre, the SIFF might be known as a short film missionary; they find the best of the best to feature. This year, watch tales of southern bells, young love and a very impressive hamburger contest, among a number of serious and comedic selections.
Girls in the Band, Sebastiani Theatre, 2:30 p.m.
"When the world told them they couldn’t play, they did it anyway." Girls in the Band follows the untold story of female jazz and big band instrumentalists, who broke sex and color barriers in the 1930s.
LUNAFEST, Sonoma Museum of Art, 5:30 p.m.(Reception), 6:30 p.m. (Films)
Lunafest is a traveling set of nine short films telling stories pertinent to womens' lives. The set has traveled to over 150 cities, screening before 20,000 audience members to raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund.
SATURDAY, APRIL 14
UFO Side Bar, Vintage House, 10 a.m.
The Extraterrestrial festival-adjacent-to-the-festival is fast becoming after last year's debut. Join resident expert Jim Ledwith for this year's discussion, consisting of films and a panel presentation covering government deception.
Harvest, Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room, 3:15 p.m.
You saw it here first, really. Catch regular Patch contributor John Beck's documentary of Sonoma County's Harvest season, following five family wineries as they tend to their crops. We ran a clip of this lush film at the beginning of harvest this year: .
Finance Your Films, Sonoma Community Center, room 110, 4:30 p.m.
For filmmakers and those interested in the business side of making films, there is a panel on “How To Finance & Distribute Your Film,” featuring First Republic Bank’s Melanie Krinsky, senior managing director of motion pictures & television finance; Magnolia Picture’s Arianne Ayers, director of publicity & marketing; and Ostrow & Company’s founder/CEO Page Ostrow.
'This Filthy World' With John Waters, Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall
Meet the filth master, figuratively. John Waters makes his appearance at the festival, performing his one-man acclaimed show 'This Filthy World' at 8:15 p.m. Joining him for dinner before hand will cost you $175. But dining with the filth master? Priceless.
SUNDAY, APRIL 15 Sonoma Charter School
“La Quinceañera Film Fiesta”
Have you been attending? This festival-within-a-fetival honors Spanish-language filmmakers from across the globe, starting Friday evening and lasting through Saturday and Sunday. Ticket prices for each film will be $1, with childcare provided.
The festival-within-a-festival was organized by Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, who has pulled films from Argentina to Spain, including the documentary “Detrás del Milagro (Beyond the Miracle)” about four of the Chilean miners who survived 69 days trapped deep under the earth; and “Chico and Rita,” the musical Cuban film that earned an Oscar nomination for “Best Animated Feature.” See the full list of films here.
Winemaking and Filmmaking Panel, Murphy’s Pub
What's more Sonoma than cinema and booze. Catch winemakers and filmmakers as the talk their craft at Murphy's. You can even grab a beer.
Awards Ceremony, Backlot Tent at the Plaza, 8:30 p.m.
Here's where it all pans out – catch the winners during the awards ceremony. Bring a notebook, you'll hear about some films you wished you'd seen.