The Sonoma International Film Festival Live & Virtual Festival March 24-28 showcases a slate of more than 100 of the best in new independent cinema from around the world at sonomafilmfest.org/festival. The festival also features three live Drive-Ins during the five-day event and Passholder Only Exclusive Access online events.
“An advantage of a virtual film festival is one can see far more films and can see them any time over the five day period,” said SIFF Artistic Director Kevin W. McNeely. “SIFF will take you around the world and expose you to different cultures, customs, languages and lifestyles. Social justice, environmental issues and solutions, action, culinary delights, gripping drama, thrilling narratives and enlightening documentaries; including multiple shorts programs (adventure, animation, comedy, culinary, documentary, drama and foreign) are all in this robust program.”
Notable distinctions for the SIFF2021 include: Almost one-fifth of the films are making their Premieres; its continued dedication to the gender parity initiative, with at least 50% of the films made by, for or about women; and special passholder-only early online access events including cooking demonstrations and wine tastings.
All films in the online festival are eligible for Jury Prizes in: Best U.S.Independent Feature, Best Foreign Feature, Best Documentary and Best Short in categories: Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama and Foreign.
Six industry professionals comprise the SIFF2021 Jurors: John Bailey, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and noted cinematographer of the films Ordinary People, The Big Chill, As Good As It Gets, and The Accidental Tourist, among others; Elisabeth Costa deBeauregard, president of the production, finance and global media sales company Storyboard Media; John Della Rosa, a Media Finance agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) specializing in packaging, financing and selling distribution rights; Gudrun Giddings, the CEO of G4C Innovation who serves on the Board of Directors for Mentor Foundation USA, founded by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and the World Health Organization; Gabrielle Kelly, screenwriter and producer on the screenwriting faculty at AFI (American Film Institute); and April Wright, an award-winning filmmaker and festival programmer for Sundance Film Festival and AFI Fest.
All films are also eligible for SIFF Audience Awards, as voted by online viewers. 2021 Audience Awards include the Stolman Award for Best Feature and the A3 Award for Best Documentary. All winners will be announced at the conclusion of the festival.
A panel for filmmakers, and the interested public, on “Filming in Northern California” features insights from Bay Area film and arts commissions including San Francisco Film Commission, Oakland Film Office and Film Shasta.
Opening and Closing Night titles are $15 per screening, all other full length feature and documentary films are $12 per screening, and short films are available for $5 per screening or by shorts category block for $12. SIFF Passholders have access to all titles at no charge as part of their passholder benefits.
SIFF Virtual Film Festival Highlights:
Opening Night March 24 at 6 PM PT:
Six Minutes To Midnight
Feature | 99 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Andy Goddard
Starring Dame Judi Dench, James D’Arcy, Eddie Izzard and Jim Broadbent
Closing Night March 28 at 6 PM PT:
The Comeback Trail
Feature | 104 Minutes | U.S.
Director: George Gallo
Starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman and Zach Braff
A Perfect Vintage
Documentary | 97 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Troy Christian (with video introduction)
Documentary | 96 Minutes | Israel
Director: Snow R. Shai (with recorded Q&A)
The Crossroads Of Chance
Documentary | 37 Minutes | Spain/France/Italy/U.S.
Director: Xavier Artigas (with video introduction)
The Dirt Whisperer
Documentary | 60 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Giorgio Litt (with video introduction)
Wine And War
Documentary | 94 Minutes | U.S.
Directors: Mark Johnston | Mark A. Ryan
North American Premiere:
Feature | 107 Minutes | Italy/Benelux
Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli (with video introduction)
The Club Of Angels
Feature | 102 Minutes | Brazil/Portugal
Director: Angelo Defanti (with recorded Q&A)
In Portuguese with English Subtitles
Feature | 102 Minutes | United Kingdom
Director: Paul Morrison (with video Q&A)
Shade Grown Coffee
Documentary | 75 Minutes | Denmark
Director: Alexander Kinnunen
Feature | 140 Minutes | Russia
Director: Dmitriy Kiselev
In Russian with English Subtitles
The Garden (Gullregn)
Feature | 115 Minutes | Iceland
Director: Ragnar Bragason
In Icelandic with English Subtitles
The Recipe Of Balance (La Receta Del Equilibrio)
Documentary | 70 Minutes | Spain
Director: Óscar Bernàcer
In Catalan and Spanish with English Subtitles
West Coast Premieres:
Documentary | 80 Minutes | U.S.
Directors: Margaret Munzer Loeb | Eden Wurmfeld (with recorded Q&A)
First We Eat
Documentary | 101 Minutes | Canada
Director: Suzanne Crocker (with recorded Q&A)
My Father Marianne (Min Pappa Marianne)
Feature | 110 Minutes | Sweden
Director: Mårten Klingberg
In Swedish with English Subtitles
Documentary | 77 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Mariel Rodriguez-McGill
Gianni Berengo Gardin’s Tale Of Two Cities
Documentary | 68 Minutes | Italy/U.S.
Director: Donna Serbe-Davis
Some Italian with English Subtitles
Documentary | 60 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Conor Hagen (with video introduction)
Feature | 107 Minutes | Canada
Director: Pascal Plante
French with English Subtitles
The Shepherdess And The Seven Songs
Feature | 96 Minutes | India
Director: Pushpendra Singh
In Haryanvi and Hindi with English Subtitles
Northern California Premieres:
Escape From Extinction
Documentary | 88 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Matthew R. Brady
Narrated by Helen Mirren | Produced by the American Humane Association.
Frey: Part II–The Architectural Interpreter
Documentary | 87 Minutes | U.S.
Director: Jake Gorst
Neutra: Survival By Design
Documentary | 104 Minutes | U.S.
Director: PJ Letofsky
SIFF Live Film Festival Drive-Ins Highlights:
In addition to the virtual experience, SIFF is hosting three live Drive-Ins, weather permitting, during the festival on Opening Night (March 24), and Friday and Saturday evenings (March 26-27) at the Sonoma Skypark (21870 Eighth Street East, Sonoma, CA).
The Opening Night film on March 24 is Six Minutes To Midnight starring Dame Judi Dench. Friday’s Drive-In will feature Russia’s Spacewalker, and Saturday’s live event will showcase SIFF2021’s Closing Night feature The Comeback Trail starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman. Gates open each night at 6:15 PM PT and will feature food trucks with food and non-alcoholic beverages available for sale. All Covid protocols will be in place. General Admission tickets for the live SIFF Drive-Ins are $75 per vehicle; SIFF passholders receive a $10 discount/one vehicle maximum per night, and are on sale separate from the Virtual Film Festival at sonomafilmfest.org/events.
SIFF Passholder-Only Early Online Access Events Include:
The Devour! Cooking Series featuring demonstrations from notable Chefs Jacques Pépin, Martin Ruiz Salvador and others, is provided by longtime SIFF collaborators Michael Howell and Lia Rinaldo who also produce the perennially popular SIFF | Chefs & Shorts dinner and film events at SIFF’s live festivals.
To pair with the Devour! Cooking Series, a companion online event, the SIFF Wine Tastings Series, features select virtual tastings from wineries Anaba, Gloria Ferrer, Lorenza, Meadowcroft, Muscardini, Wine Access and Women Owned Wineries.
About Sonoma International Film Festival
The Sonoma International Film Festival is a 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world, and inspiring film lovers. Blending a program of world-class film, food, wine and fun, SIFF is celebrating its 24th year in 2021 with the online festival and live Drive-Ins slated for March 24-28.
SIFF’s signature initiative–the Media Arts Program started at Sonoma Valley High School in 2002–introduces students to the process of storytelling and provides the resources for them to create films. SIFF has granted more than $650,000 to the program since its inception.
Over the past 24 years, the Sonoma International Film Festival has received the support of many incredible sponsors. This year’s showcase sponsors include Premiere Sponsors: Dolby, Manitou Fund, Sonoma Magazine, Sonoma Index-Tribune and Spritz; Star Sponsors: Bank of Marin, Devour!, Film Shasta, Sheppard Mullin, Twilio and Wall Street Journal; Film Sponsors: Susan Atherton, Bar None’s Canyon Winery, Better Homes & Gardens | Wine Country Group, Bevan & Associates, Christine Curry Design, Eyeball Engineering, Franklin University Switzerland, Krieger Brothers, Landers Curry, Inc., the McNeely Family, Meadowcroft, Modern Art West, Muscardini, Music Nomad, National Association of Social Workers, Pets Lifeline, Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma Valley Authors Festival, Sweetwater Spectrum and Unali Events, and donors Amar A. Archbold and Cathy and Chuck Williamson. More than 50 additional sponsors also partner with SIFF through Community, Wine | Beverage, Media and Government support including Sonoma County Tourism.
The best way to experience the festival, and have access to all online films and special events, is through the SIFF Virtually Everything Pass for $175 which also includes SIFF Saturdays, a monthly virtual screening on the last Saturday of every month throughout the year. SIFF Drive-Ins tickets are $75/per vehicle; passholders receive a $10 discount/one vehicle maximum. For information about passes, Drive-Ins, and individual online film tickets for SIFF2021, please visit: sonomafilmfest.org/festival.
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