UPCOMING 2018 SONOMA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REAFFIRMS STATURE AS MARQUEE FESTIVAL FOR FILM LOVERS

Marking its 21st year, the popular Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) promises to be one of the finest yet, with an impressive screening lineup that includes the most buzzed about Hollywood films of the year, as well as standout international films from Europe, South America and Asia. In total, 110 films from around the world, from over 18 countries and 200 filmmakers, will be showcased from March 21st to March 25th as all eyes turn to Sonoma for a Festival that consistently attracts the most prominent names in the film industry and has become a marquee destination for film lovers, as well as lovers of world class food and wine!

Festival Director Kevin McNeely commented, “Over the last twenty-one years, we have worked hard to build a world class festival that showcases amazing international talent alongside the best the Sonoma region has to offer. This year we have an exceptional program with a lineup of amazingly talented jury members, stunning filmmakers from around the world, and the very best food & wine that Sonoma has to offer. We are very happy to have received an outpouring of support from filmmakers, distributors and actors as the region recovers from the devastating fires this last year. All of us who work year-round to put on the best festival possible thank everyone for their support in a time of community recovery, and we have dedicated our 21st festival to the emergency first responders.”

This year, SIFF will screen many highly acclaimed and highly anticipated films from prominent directors around the world. Headlining the festival are the Opening Night films BORG VS MCENROE, the story of the legendary 1980 Wimbledon match between Björn Borg and John McEnroe from director Janus Metz; the acclaimed French language film, BACK TO BURGUNDY, about three siblings reuniting to save their family winery from director Cédric Klapisch; and the Closing Night film CHEF, the Indian remake of the 2014 American hit film from Director Raja Krishna Menon.

The festival boasts seven state-of-the-art screening venues, each showcasing five films a day. Some of the World Cinema films highlighted this year include BEYOND THE RIVER (South Africa), THE QUEST OF ALAIN DuCASSE (France), OFF THE MENU (Argentina), SOLYUT-7 (Russia), APRIL’S DAUGHTER (Mexico), JAMAMI TOFU (Japan), THE INVISIBLES (Germany), THE SQUARE (Sweden) and CHEF & MONSOON (India). Highlighted films from the U.S. include CANCER CAN BE KILLED, THE CALIFORNIA NO, LIFE HACK, JOE FRANK: SOMEWHERE OUT THERE, FRANK & EVA, FUNNY STORY, RUMBLE: THE INDIANS THAT ROCKED THE WORLD, SLIM AARONS: THE HIGH LIFE, MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED, and YOU CAN’T SAY NO. There will also be short film selections that include many Oscar® nominated films.

The full Sonoma International Film Festival program can be viewed at: http://www.sonomafilmfest.org/film-festival-guide.html

The list of accomplished jury members for this year’s festival includes director and actor Karen Allen (ANIMAL HOUSE, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, MALCOLM X, THE PERFECT STORM, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL); actor and director Ed Begley, Jr. (ST ELSEWHERE, FUTURE MAN, GHOSTBUSTERS, BETTER CALL SAUL, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT); Tom Davia, CEO and Founder of Cinemavin; Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter’s awards columnist; Grant Gullickson, SVP and head of legal affairs at Amblin Partners; JD Heyman, Deputy Entertainment Editor of People Magazine; John Kochman, Executive Vice President of Cohen Media Group; and Maren Olson, Agent in the Film Finance and Sales Group at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Additionally, SIFF will host a special panel, “Reversing Gender Inequality by 2020,” with director and actor Karen Allen; actor Abigail Breslin, Pamela Guest, Artios Award-nominated Casting Director JD Heyman, Deputy Entertainment Editor of People Magazine; Ingrid Rudefors, former head of the Stockholm Film Commission; and Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute. The discussion is inspired by the 50/50×2020 movement to create gender-balanced leadership in all organizations by 2020.

The festival would not be complete without a number of spectacular culinary events celebrating the very best of Sonoma film, food, & wine. The Opening Night’s Gala on the Backlot, Wednesday March 21st, will feature cuisine catered by Sonoma’s top restaurants including OSO, Burgers & Vine, Girl & the Fig, Della Santina, Maya, EDK, Umbria, and The Swiss Hotel; with apertifs courtesy of Gloria Ferrer, Breathless, Arrowood, Petroni, Imagery, Adastra, Cochon Wines and Sonoma Loeb; and a tribute to the first responders. During the Gala, San Francisco & Silicon Valley Magazines will host the Inaugural SIFF Wine Country Awards featuring the best wines from the San Francisco Bay Area region with tastings available from all of the competing wines.

For the first time this year, the festival has partnered with Chef Michael Howell, co-founder of Devour! Film & Food Festival, to host a special “Chefs & Shorts Culinary Extravaganza” on Thursday night. Five celebrity chefs, including Dominque Crenn (awarded America’s top female chef) of San Francisco, Evan Funke (Felix Trattoria) of L.A., Sonoma’s own, John McReynolds (Stone Edge Farms), and John Toulze (Girl & the Fig), will be serving five courses of spectacular dishes as the audience enjoys watching the short films that inspired each dish!

On Friday and Saturday nights, the Backlot will be decorated with Art from local Bay Area artists while guests simultaneously indulge in tasting stations featuring food and wine chef pairings from Chef Brian Jones of St. Francis Winery, Chef Alejandro Garcia of Rodney Strong Vineyards, and Chef Mac of Petroni Vineyards.

Ravenswood Winery, will sponsor the VIP Garden Lounge in the Backlot and the Wine Trolley that will be stopping at all the SIFF venues and an additional stop at the Ravenswood Winery.

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