Lights, camera, party! Four film festivals in Wine Country celebrate cinema
You can watch movies on your TV at home, on your phone and at local movie theaters, where new ones open every week. So why are there so many film festivals?
Because there’s a lot more to film festivals than just watching movies. Depending on the festival, you can sample fun snacks and fine cuisine, attend lavish parties, meet actors and directors — and sometimes you can do all of the above.
There are at least four film festival going on right now or coming up nearby. Here’s a quick rundown:
— OUTwatch: Wine Country’s LGBTQI Film Festival runs Friday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 14, at Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol with seven films, starting at 7:30 Friday with “Mapplethorpe,” a biography of art photographer Robert Mapplethorpe from his rise to fame in the 1970s to his death in 1989 due to complications from HIV/AIDS. Weekend pass, $70; individual tickets, $10; Sunday Cinematic Salon discussion, plus both Sunday films, “Dykes, Camera, Action!” and “The Watermelon Woman,” $20. For tickets and full schedule: outwatchfilmfest.org.
— The 23rd Annual Jewish Film Festival. Presented by the Jewish Community Center Sonoma County, the festival opened Oct. 9 and will continue with screenings at 1 and 7 every Tuesday (except Nov. 6) through Nov. 27 at Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol, which serves lunch and dinner in its lobby cafe before the shows. Most of the evening shows are sold out. The remaining films include “Keep the Change,” Tuesday; “Let Yourself Go,” Oct. 23; “Who Will Write Our History?” Oct. 30; “Shelter,” Nov. 13; “Sammy Davis Jr.: Gotta Be Me.” $10 for matinees; $13 for evening shows. jccsoco.org/filmfestival
— The Fourth Annual Alexander Valley Film Festival runs Thursday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 21, with a schedule of 13 narrative features, 13 documentary features, six films and five special events. Venues include the Clover Theater in Cloverdale, the Raven Film Center and the Spoonbar restaurant in Healdsburg, the Alexander Valley Hall in Geyserville and the Odd Fellows Hall in Windsor.
The festival opens with a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday at Alexander Valley Hall with Korean-themed main dishes from the Jimtown Store. Attendees with last names starting with A through M should bring an appetizer; N through Z bring a dessert. The evening’s film program starts at 7 p.m. and includes “Chef Flynn,” a documentary about a 13-year-old prodigy chef, and the short film “Empire on Main Street,” about Guerneville chef and entrepreneur Crista Luedtke. Cameron Yates, director of “Chef Flynn,” Eric Holland, producer of “Empire on Main Street,” and the film’s subject, Crista Luedtke, will attend.
The closing night film Sunday at the Raven Film Center is “Warrior Women,” a documentary about the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, with personal appearances by Warrior Woman Lakota Harden and directors Elizabeth Castle and Christina King. The program begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. Ticket offices are at Flying Goat Coffee in Healdsburg and Plank Coffee in Cloverdale. Festival passes: $125-$350; advance individual tickets: $12, or $2 for students.
For tickets and a full schedule: avfilmsociety.org
— The Eighth Annual Napa Valley Film Festival runs Nov. 7-11 with some 100 films. The festival unofficially kicks off Nov. 6 with “Sneak Preview Night,” featuring the new Hugh Jackman film “The Front Runner,” based on Gary Hart’s campaign for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. The official opening night film on Nov. 7 is “The Green Book,” starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali and Linda Cardellini, in the story of a journey through the segregated South. Closing the festival on Nov. 11 is the HBO Films documentary, “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.” One of the highlights this year is the presentation of the Charles Krug “Legendary Actor” honor to Laurence Fishburne during the festival’s “Celebrity Tributes” program Nov. 8. Passes, $125-$2,500; individual tickets, $25. For tickets and a full schedule: nvff.org