The Santa Rosa International Film Festival, formerly the Wine Country Film Festival, celebrates its 25th anniversary in grand style Sept. 14-20 with movies under the stars, art exhibits, provocative discussions and wine tastings.
What distinguishes the festival, says director Stephen Ashton, is that it celebrates arts beyond film. Screenings are complemented by musical performances, literary readings and cuisine from the countries where the films are set.
Most screenings are at Summerfield Cinemas, 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa; or at Deerfield Ranch Winery, 10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. Other venues include 3rd Street Cinemas and the Roxy Stadium 14 in Santa Rosa.
Below are just a few of the highlights. At press time the schedule was still in flux, so check the festival's site to confirm event dates, times and locations: www.sriff.org.
Opening night at Deerfield Ranch Winery, Sept. 14: Starring G?ard Depardieu, "My Afternoons with Margueritte" is a tale of a nearly illiterate middle-aged man, Germain. One day in the park, he meets Margueritte, a frail elderly woman sitting on a bench, reading novels aloud. Through Margueritte and her passion for books, Germain discovers a fascinating world he thought was out of reach and finds confidence in himself. In Germain, Margueritte finds a faithful and generous friend, willing to learn how to read when she starts losing her sight. Gates open 6 p.m. for a live reading of Camus and music by Dgiin; the film starts at 8 p.m. Also showing Sept. 18 at 6:15 p.m. at Summerfield Cinemas.
Opening night in Santa Rosa, Sept. 15: A restored version of "The Magnificent Seven" stars Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen. Theater owner Dan Tocchini introduces his favorite film. 7 p.m. at Summerfield Cinemas.
An operatic collaboration: "I, Don Giovanni" is a drama based on the life of 18th-century Italian lyricist Lorenzo da Ponte, who worked with Mozart on his opera, "Don Giovanni." The film, preceded by live opera arias, screens Thursday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. under the stars at Deerfield Ranch; and Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 6:40 p.m. at Summerfield Cinemas.
Migration of Welsh culture: "Patagonia" traces Welsh settlements in Argentina that date back to immigrants' arrival in 1865. The film features the wild landscapes of Wales and Patagonia, following an elderly woman attempting to reconnect with her roots before she dies. Monday, Sept. 19, 8 p.m. outdoors at Deerfield Ranch Winery.
Architecture for the arts: "Unfinished Spaces" is a documentary about architects building art schools in Cuba. In 1961, three young, visionary architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba's National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana. Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as Soviet political influence increased, construction was abruptly halted. Forty years later the schools are still in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. The program includes a discussion of "architecture and its effects on the human psyche." Monday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Deerfield Ranch Winery in the wine cave. Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. at Summerfield Cinemas.
At home with wolves: The winner of the festival's Jack London Spirit award, "Among Wolves" is based on the life of Marcos Rodr?uez Pantoja, who was born in the mountainous northern province of Cordoba in 1946. When Marcos turned seven, he was sold by his father to a goatherd as his helper in a remote valley of Spain's Sierra Morena mountains. When the old goatherd died, Marcos lived alone and completely isolated. For 12 years he had no human contact and lived with a pack of wolves. Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. at Deerfield Ranch Winery.