The 16th edition of the Sonoma International Film Festival found the festival once again setting the bar for destination film festivals worldwide. With guests such as Ray Liotta extending his stay to spend time with film students, ”The Iceman” director Ariel Vromen screening his lauded Michael Shannon-starring film, and Mary-Louise Parker and her “Weeds” co-star, the Oscar-nominated Demian Bichir receiving a warm tribute and sincerely gorgeous Tiffany & Co souvenirs, the town extended on last year’s success in managing to not only provide a solid line-up of charismatic figures from the industry, but in introducing the charm of this walk-friendly location as one of the most conducive places for creatives to talk about their craft, while enjoying local artisanal fare.
There’s a lot to be said for festivals where events are held around wine, whiskey and beer tastings, and at which all theater venues are able to be easily accessed by foot. When local eateries like the Epicurean Connection stays open late to cater for post-screening cravings, and celebrity chefs from The Girl and Fig prep menus for the key tributes and dinners, it’s clear that this is a place that welcomes its festival with wide-open arms, something that’s not always true of other destinations.
Executive director of the festival, Kevin McNeely, is a jovial a host as there is, and while he and his family set the standard for genuine hospitality and enthusiasm for their attending filmmakers, it really is a team town effort that sets Sonoma a step above the majority.
As for the winners – the list read as follows:
Photos (c) Patrice Ward, 2013
NB: Elliot Kotek, Celebs.com’s editor, served on this year’s Sonoma International Film Festival jury for short films, as well as hosted the conversation with Ray Liotta and Ariel Vromen for “The Iceman” and the tribute to Mary Louise Parker and Demian Bichir.