Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Sonoma International Film Festival
Once-in-a-lifetime experiences abounded at this year’s Sonoma International Film Festival, a boutique event in the heart of northern California’s wine country – complete with complimentary wine and cheese before every screening (and a trailer featuring an animated, tap-dancing wine bottle named Tipsy whose tagline read, “Is everything out of focus, or is it just me?”). Held a week apart and an hour’s drive – yet a world away – from that longest running festival in the U.S., SIFF serves as a worthy reminder that attending fests that aren’t market-driven not only allows one the opportunity to discover overlooked diamonds amongst the seemingly rough cuts, but to enjoy chance encounters that have been programmed out of the older and slicker fests. While the films themselves might not have the cachet associated with the big boy on the Bay (save perhaps for the opening and closing night bookended Luc Besson flicks, “The Lady” and Radu Mihaileanu’s “The Source”) SIFF’s random weirdness factor proved absolutely intoxicating (no pun intended, really) to this non-drinking cinephile. Filmmaker magazine.