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Posted - 04/17/2012 09:03am
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WildFireWeb Sponsors Sonoma International Film Festival


17 Apr, 2012 00:52 CET

Sonoma, CA (April 16, 2012) – Sonoma International Film Festival brought down the curtain on its landmark 15th anniversary Sunday night, celebrating five extraordinary days of cinema that included an unprecedented 137 films from more than 30 countries.

The U.S. premiere of the acclaimed French film, The Source (La Source des femmes) brought a fitting end to the film program, which was international in scope as never before. The festival opened with the The Lady, which like The Source is from Luc Besson’s Europacorp, and then offered a stunning lineup of 15 Spanish-language films selected for La Quinceañera Film Fiesta, a festival-within-a-festival inspired by the coming-of-age ceremony celebrated by Latina girls on their 15th birthday.

Sunday’s night’s award ceremonies also reflected the festival’s international flavor, honoring the Québécois feature film Starbuck with both juried and audience-favorite awards.
Guests of honor during the festival included actor Christopher Lloyd and director John Waters, both of whom treated audiences to a showcase of their current projects before receiving tribute awards. Lloyd starred in both Cadaver, a short animated film by Jonah D. Ansell, and Last Call, a feature film by Greg Garthe, both of which were screened Thursday night. Waters performed his one-man vaudeville act, “This Filthy World,” to a sold-out crowd on Saturday.

Dame Shirley Bassey was in attendance for the world premiere of Sir Billi, Scotland’s first full-length animated feature. Produced and directed by Tessa and Sascha Hartmann, it stars Sir Sean Connery as the voice of Sir Billi, while Dame Shirley sings the film’s title track, “Guardian of the Highlands.”

Besson’s Opening Night film, The Lady, played to a full house at the Sebastiani Theatre on Sonoma’s historic plaza after an introduction by Sonoma resident Robert Kamen, Besson’s longtime writing partner (Karate Kid, The Fifth Element, Taps and Lethal Weapon). Starring Michele Yeoh as Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Sonoma screening was especially timely, coming a week after Suu Kyi’s landslide election to the Myanmar Parliament.  Radu Mihaileanu’s The Source closed the festival with a drama of female empowerment in the Arab world, but with a more comedic flair as it presented the story of a village of women who go on a sex strike until their men are willing to help fetch water from a nearby well.

The Sonoma International Film Festival – known for its fun, food and wine in addition to its inspired film programming – delivered entertainment in many forms with something for just about everyone: from a Cuban cigar lounge to performances by acrobats and circus performers; family films paired with dog adoptions to panel discussions about extraterrestrial life; beer gardens to freshly made donuts; red carpet spectacle with bagpipers and a Scottish parade to a fleet of rickshaw pedicabs taking guests from one venue to another; rock bands to tarot card readings; afternoon picnics to a skating demo with 100 roller derby girls in fishnets.

Jurors this year included: Arianne Ayers, Director of Marketing and Publicity at Magnolia Pictures; Cevin Cathell SIFF Program Director Alum and former independent film producer and Program Director for Jackson Hole and Santa Barbara Film Festivals; Mari Aixala Dawson, Writer and Producer; Elliot Kotek, Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Director Beyond Cinema, Entertainment Correspondent for ABC Radio; Jen McGowan, filmmaker and SIFF 2011 Award Winner for Best Dramatic Short, Touch; William Mosely, actor, The Chronicles of Narnia; Page Ostrow, film financing and distribution expert, Founder & CEO Ostrow & Company; Sylvia Perel, Founder-Director of the International Latino Film Festival – San Francisco Bay Area and the Festival de Cine do Todos Santos; Eames Yates, award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker.

Festival Award Winners

Audience Favorite World Feature:

STARBUCK (Canada | 103 min. | dir: Ken Scott)

Audience Favorite Feature:

DOGGIE BOOGIE (USA | 87 min. | dir: Romanus Wolter)

Audience Favorite Documentary:

WALL: The Journey Up (USA | 88 min. | dir: Wally Baynard)

Audience Favorite from La Quinceañera Film Fiesta:

AMONG WOLVES (Entrelobos) (Spain/Germany | 114 min. | dir: Gerardo Olivares)

Best Narrative Feature:

STARBUCK (Canada | 103 min. | dir: Ken Scott)

Best Very Independent Feature:

HIDALGO: The Untold Story (Hidalgo: La historia jamás contada)
(Mexico | 115 min. | dir: Antonio Serrano)

Best International Feature:

MANIPULATION (Switzerland/Germany | 90 min.| dir: Pascal Verdosci)

Best Documentary Feature:
Tie between:
SHAKESPEARE HIGH (USA | 81 min. | dir: Alex Rotaru)
WALL: The Journey Up (USA | 88 min. | dir: Wally Baynard)

Best Animated Short:

TMZ (USA | 4 min. | dir: Bill Plympton)

Best Foreign Short:
VOLUNTAD & PAZ (Venezuela | 24 min. | dir: Carlos P. Beltrán)

Best Documentary Short:
BONE WIND FIRE (Canada | 30 min. | dir: Jill Sharpe)

Best Dramatic Short:
BEE (USA | 20 min. | dir: Raphael Hitzke)

Special recognition:

Actor Lexi DiBenedetto
in LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED? (USA | 20 min. | dir: Kim Rocco Shields)

Best Experimental Short:

A FINGER, TWO DOTS, THEN ME (USA | 8 min. | dir: Daniel Holechek & David M. Holechek


The Sonoma International Film Society & Festival rely on the generous support of sponsors and corporate partnerships to help fund the year-round film society. Special thanks to this year’s sponsors and partners:

  • PREMIERE SPONSORS: AT&T Advertising Solutions, Bistro Boudin, Chateau St. Jean, Comcast, Hey Mambo by The Other Guys, Mia's Kitchen, Sonoma Index-Tribune/Sonoma Magazine.
  • MAJOR SPONSORS: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, The Fred & June MacMurray Foundation, MacArthur Place, New Belgium Brewing, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, Wine Country Party & Events.
  • SUPPORTING SPONSORS: Dolby, Green & Black's Organic Chocolate, Infineon Raceway, LUNAFEST sponsored by Lunabar, Sotheby's International Realty, Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco, TV 5 Monde, Vode Lighting, WildFireWeb.
  • PRIMARY WINERY PARTNERS: Buena Vista Winery, Don Sebastiani & Sons, Sebastiani Vineyards.
  • TRANSPORTATION PARTNER: Pure Luxury Wine Tours.
  • La Quinceañera Film Fiesta is sponsored by the Fred & June MacMurray Foundation.
About the Sonoma International Film Festival
A destination film festival located in the heart of wine country, the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) is uniquely positioned to be a lively celebration of film, food and wine. An annual gathering for film industry insiders, cinema enthusiasts and independent filmmakers, Sonoma is one of the most scenic and epicurean places to experience the art of film. Founded in 1997 as the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, SIFF is now a five-day international event that takes pride in showcasing independent films.
SIFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Festival supports the Sonoma Valley High School Media Arts Program established over a decade ago by the Sonoma Film Society.
The 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival will take place from April 11 to 15, 2012.

For more information, contact:
(707) 933-2600

Media Contact
Brooke Conner Sevenau
Studio Seven PR

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