The 20th Anniversary of the Sonoma International Film Festival was this past week, and Sonoma was packed with film makers and fans alike. Film screening locations are all within walking distance of the historic Sonoma Plaza, and guests of the festival can be seen milling around town in between viewings.
The most popular place to set up camp during the 5 day extravaganza is the backlot tent on 1st Street East. Filled with booths of local businesses and wineries, one could sample tasty treats from the likes of Clover Stornetta, Smash Mallow of Sonoma Brands, and many more. Exploring the tent is quite an experience in and of itself, and that is just the beginning. In addition to food and wine, live musicians and artists showcased their talents as well.
As you head back toward the back of the tent through the throngs of attendees, filmmakers, and actors, you reach the VIP area.
During the day this was the watering hole for discussing films, chatting about film-making decisions with the people who made them, and networking with industry professionals. As someone who is certainly not a cinematic genius, this was one of the highlights of attending the festival for me. Listening to each person involved speak about their part in putting together a film was eye opening, and truly changed my perspective as the weekend progressed and I attended more screenings.
Each evening the tent is filled with people for the festival's infamous evening soirees. The opening party was sponsored by Tito's Vodka, featuring an exclusive Tito's bar built into a burnt orange air stream that parked outside the tent for the duration of the festival. Guests mingled while munching on small bites from the girl & the fig, and finishing off the evening with a cake by Crisp Bakeshop. Perhaps my favorite evening at the tent was Friday night. The party was Taiwanese market themed, bringing Taiwan's vibrant nightlife tradition to the SIFF. Featuring Taiwanese food, fun decor, and photo ops galore, the party was lively and colorful. Paper lanterns transformed the space, strung from the market lights that adorned the tent in the daytime. Saturday night was the Awards Ceremony, as guests could walk the red carpet and toast the winners success.
I can by no means claim to be a film expert or critic, but it was quite enjoyable to step outside of my normal netflix binge-watching routine and see films that were made with such purpose. You know we love to highlight our local community here at ASL, so I would be remiss if I didn't shine a light on the brilliant work of William Papadin. A Sonoma local and Sonoma High Graduate, William has now made two trips to the Sonoma Film Festival, Cannes, and beyond with his films. This year his short, "sans reponse" won the audience choice award in the foreign shorts category. The dialogue is in French, and features the story of a young man who moves back home after living in Los Angeles for 42 days, based on William's own experiences. Papadin's witty humor and depth of emotion come across beautifully in the just under 5 minute short. It will make you laugh, it will make you sigh, and it will leave you wishing there was more of it to be enjoyed.
Now that Film Fest weekend has come and gone, Sonoma can settle back into a slightly slower rhythm of pre-busy season springtime. The hustle and bustle of SIFF is always exciting, but we prefer the wine country pace of things, especially after a weekend jam packed with events and social happenings. Hopefully we will see some of you at the Sonoma International Film Festival in 2018!