Must-see movies at the Sonoma International Film Festival, plus new animation from Richard Linklater

The Sonoma International Film Festival turns 25 this week, and my, oh my, how the organizers are pulling out all the stops to celebrate this milestone.

The festivities kick off with a bang on Wednesday, with a special screening of the screwed-up comedy adventure by Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum “The Lost City” at the Sebastiani Theater in Sonoma. Directors Aaron and Adam Nee are set to attend the well-reviewed film, which opens in theaters across the region on Friday.

The schedule is so tantalizing that SIFF offerings top our weekly list of movie-going pleasures, along with a sports documentary from a Bay Area native and other special screenings, including the latest animated feature. suitable for children from Richard Linklater “Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood.”

We will now just “take off” on what to see.

With a packed schedule of 120 screenings, food events, parties and live music, the Sonoma International Film Festival fills its plate with plenty of events, screenings and activities, Wednesday through Sunday.

The mouth-watering broadcast includes a special tribute to the divine Jacqueline Bisset, who receives the SIFF Cinematic Excellence Award on Friday during a screening of Russell Brown’s “Loren & Rose,” a drama about a relationship between an up-and-coming director and a revered actress. . The closing night feature on Sunday is ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’, a French drama following a fashion magazine editor as she deals with the legacy of the family butchery business.

A group of world premieres include: “Children of the Vine”, a documentary by Brian Lilla about the need to use alternatives instead of one of the most commonly used herbicides; “Fair Play”, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s survey of national inequalities; “Mixtape Trilogy: Stories of the Power of Music,” a look at how musical performers such as the Indigo Girls interact with fans; and “The Cheaters,” a dark narrative comedy from France tied to a game of golf that takes an unexpected turn when a stranger joins in.

One of the other celebrity sightings occurs when “Raiders of the Lost Ark” Karen Allen appears to share advice and inspire budding film students. This takes place Wednesday at 9 a.m. as part of the Sonoma Valley Media Arts Program showcase.

Are you pressed for time and can only make one film? I wholeheartedly recommend it be “Pretty Problems,” shot in Sonoma County, a dashing Wine Country comedy set around a wild weekend that a couple flounders, him with fragile male egos (co -screenwriter Michael Tennant) and she (Britt Rentschler) longing for a little spice in her life, pass with a sin-rich couple (JJ Nolan and Graham Outerbridge) and their pals near Windsor.

The cast shines in this frothy skewer of Wine Country trappings and excess. It was created at SXSW and is sure to have you laughing. Screens 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Vintage House and 5 p.m. March 26 at Andrews Hall, both in Sonoma.

For SIFF schedule and tickets, visit

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival is just weeks away, but you can get in the mood by watching the sports documentary “King Otto,” screening Friday at the Vogue Theater in San Francisco. Director and Bay Area native Christopher Andre Marks plans to attend the 7 p.m. screening of his announced documentary, which chronicles the victory of the Greek national soccer team underdog and his unforgettable German coach Otto. Rehagel. In addition to the screening (, the film will be available for rental starting Friday.

Multi-talented filmmaker Richard Linklater ventures into animation again (“A Scanner Darkly” from 2006) with “Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood”. Its bold mission is to chronicle the first lunar landing (1969) and also frame the scientific achievement from the perspective of a boy staring wide-eyed from Houston. Film Friday revolves around the Smith Rafael Film Center ( and lands Thursday ( 1-2-a-space-age-childhood?cinemaId=0801) at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco before landing April 1 on Netflix.

If you feel you haven’t seen enough incarnations of Cyrano de Bergerac’s sad sack story, including Joe Wright’s musical with expert Peter Dinklage, you’re in luck. Berkeley’s Elmwood will offer two Thursday screenings of the much-loved West End stage performance “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring the eternal James McAvoy as the poetic soul of literature who helps another woo his true heart, Roxanne. Jamie Lloyd’s production is part of the National Theater Live series. Showtimes at the Elmwood are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. For tickets, visit

And if none of these options work, how about revisiting the classics? Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 San Francisco thriller “The Conversation,” starring Gene Hackman, still instills paranoia and is one of my all-time favorites. He has a one-week engagement starting Friday at Rialto Cinemas Cerrito in El Cerrito:

Another enduring classic — and also one of my favorite movies of all time — is Akira Kurosawa’s hugely influential and beloved samurai epic, “Seven Samurai.” The 35mm 1954 will be screened at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, 3:00 p.m. Saturday and 7:00 p.m. March 29 at Roxie:

And at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Federico Fellini’s 100th birthday celebration continues with the screening of “Nights of Cabiria,” another exclamation point in the filmmaker’s illustrious career. It follows a sex worker from Rome as she overcomes obstacles, including mean men. Digital restoration of classic 1956 shows at 7 p.m. Friday:

All of this should keep you going until next week.

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Copyright © 2022 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, redistribution, or other reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Gerald R. Schneider