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33 films featured at the 5th annual Alexander Valley Film Festival

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If You Go

What: Alexander Valley Film Festival

When: Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20

Where: Clover Theater, 121 First St., Cloverdale; Raven Film Center, 415 Center St., Healdsburg; Alexander Valley Hall, 5512 Highway 28, Geyserville

Admission: advance individual tickets $12, $2 for students; festival passes, $125-$350

Information: 707-893-7150, avfilmsociety.org

The Alexander Valley Film Festival, created five years ago to serve northern Sonoma Country, will celebrate its fifth anniversary this month, screening 33 feature, documentary and short films over four days.

While Mendocino, Napa, San Rafael and Sonoma host film fests every year, the Alexander Valley event has found its own niche, said its founder, Kathryn Hecht.

“We were interested in creating a film festival to specifically serve the community we live in. Even with the Mill Valley Film Festival scheduled so close to us, that’s still a world away, with the driving, the traffic and the parking,” she said.

With screenings in Healdsburg, Geyserville and Cloverdale, the Alexander Valley Film Festival can offer a shorter drive to north county film lovers and a chance to see quality films. And, of course, others are welcome, too.

This year’s festival, running Oct. 17-20, includes the documentaries “The Great American Lie,” Jennifer Seibel Newsom’s examination of income disparity, and “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivans,” about the crusading newspaper columnist. There also are feature films from around the world, including Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria and Syria. You can even see a classic Western, 1952’s “High Noon.”

Despite the fact that there are scores of film festivals, the Alexander Valley program operates on a more modest scale and can provide a more easily accessible entry point for filmakers and film fans alike.

“We’re really leaning into the fact that emerging filmmakers don’t have the resources to get their films in front of the right audience or market,” Hecht said. “Now the festival has grown and I can say we’ve finally arrived. There’s an energy here.”

Part of that energy comes from some 100 local volunteers, including committees that work for most of the year, planning ahead for the each festival.

This year’s highlights include:

“Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins,” 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, Alexander Valley Hall. Geyserville. The festival opens with this documentary about Texas troublemaker Molly Ivins, whose syndicated column was carried by hundreds of newspapers. The film will be followed by a Q&A with director Janice Engel, and then a panel on the state of journalism today moderated by Steve Mencher, KRCB. Panelists include: Rollie Atkinson, the Healdsburg Tribune; Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle; Hollis Robbins, Dean of Arts & Humanities of Sonoma State University; Matt Villano, freelance writer and editor.

“The Great American Lie,” noon Friday, Oct. 18, The Clover Theater, Cloverdale. Emmy award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, presents her new documentary, an in-depth exposure of social and economic immobility, viewed through the lens of our gendered values. A Q&A session will follow the screening.

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound,” 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, The Clover Theater and Trading Post Restaurant, Cloverdale. The Opening Night Film, reveals the hidden power of sound in cinema and the unsung heroes whose creative breakthroughs have impacted the most beloved, classic films. The film is followed by a Q&A with Bobette Buster, writer and producer of the film, and a reception toasting five years of the Alexander Valley Film Festival.

Student Film Showdown and Visiting Filmmaker Meet-N-Greet, 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, The Clover Theater, Cloverdale. Watch this year’s student competitors walk the red carpet, dazzle “paparazzi” recruited for the occasion and screen their films in a real-time competition. A total $2,500 in cash prizes will be awarded after the screenings. Then enjoy an opportunity to meet all of the filmmakers in town for this year’s festival.

Saturday Night Classic: “High Noon,” 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Alexander Valley Hall, Geyserville. The classic Western stars Gary Cooper in an Oscar-winning performance as Sheriff Will Kane. Grace Kelly co-stars. Watch for appearances by actors who later became famous on television, including Lloyd Bridges and Harry Morgan, as a well as supporting performance by Lon Chaney Jr. Plus, special whiskey cocktails from Alley 6.

Closing Night Film and Awards Reception. 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. The festival concludes with “Unsettled,” the story of LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers who flee persecution in their countries of origin to seek better and safer lives in the United States, at the Raven Film Center and Spoonbar, Healdsburg. The film will be followed by a Q&A with producer Stu Harrison of Healdsburg and film subjects Cheyenne and Mari, who will be in attendance. The evening continues with a celebration of student filmmakers, audience award winners and the presentation of the Jackie Hoffner Heart & Hope Award at the Spoonbar restaurant in downtown Healdsburg’s h2Hotel.

For the full schedule of films, visit bit.ly/AVFF2019-Brochure. For information on ticket purchases, packages, and discounts, visit www.avfilmsociety.org/avff-tickets.

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

If You Go

What: Alexander Valley Film Festival

When: Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20

Where: Clover Theater, 121 First St., Cloverdale; Raven Film Center, 415 Center St., Healdsburg; Alexander Valley Hall, 5512 Highway 28, Geyserville

Admission: advance individual tickets $12, $2 for students; festival passes, $125-$350

Information: 707-893-7150, avfilmsociety.org

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