It's Movie Night!

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Sonoma Film Festival makes it Easy to Go to The Movies (even for parents!)
By Robert P. Farmer

Once upon a time I went to the movies four times a week. Now, I never go. No exaggeration - four times a week. And seriously - never. These days, if it doesn't come to my house via a little red envelope in my mail, I don't see it. I still see all the good ones, but it's never at the movie theater. It wasn't always like that. I used to be at the theater more days than I wasn't.



Let me explain: I wasn't so much a rabid cinephile or a serial dater as I was a young cub writer, whose early beat happened to be film and music. So when I wasn't checking out the latest band or new CD, I was in a dark theater seeing nearly every movie that the studios cared to release. I got into it. And I became, after all, a rabid cinephile.

I do sometimes miss those days. But I'll take these days of Netflix and a comfy couch any day - especially since now that I have a four-month-old daughter I literally cannot go to the movies.

And so it was with great pleasure that I learned this year's Sonoma Valley Festival, the 11th iteration of the great Wine Country film event, will actually be kid friendly--nearly unheard of on the film festival circuit. The SVFF this year features child care for the parents who just want to break away for a few hours and enjoy the festival "adult" style. The service, which is offered for the unheard of price (in babysitter world) of $8 per hour, will make sure kids are well taken care of while the parents are tucked watching festival fare. The program, called Kid Zone, is designed with a movie-going theme as well, ensuring your youngster gets the cinematic background he or she so craves.

On Saturday and Sunday during the festival, kids can join in Movie Magic Day, an interactive diversion that will guide them through the process of movie making, from storyboarding to directing to editing. Of course, for the Stars in the Making among the group, there is acting involved, too. Movie Magic is just part of the day care service, which also includes activities for kids such as karaoke, arts and crafts, and age-appropriate (natch!) movies.

Meanwhile, grownups attending festival can enjoy an impressive lineup of films and special events--the likes of which have placed Sonoma high on the film festival circuit hierarchy. Included this year are some 75 new independent full-length features, shorts, and documentaries featuring acclaimed actors and by top-name directors, as well as by up-and-comers and tomorrow's stars. Among the highlights are "Lynch" which takes an unflinching behind-the-scenes look at the life of acclaimed and enigmatic director David Lynch, and a sneak preview of director Alek Keshishian's "Love and Other Disasters," starring Orlando Bloom, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brittany Murphy. Numerous actors, directors, and crewmembers from the festival films will be on hand to discuss their work.

michealKeaton.jpgThe Festival this year is anchored by a tribute to the actor Michael Keaton on April 12 at Sebastiani Theatre. Keaton, who has long been one of my favorite actors (and not just for being the best of all the Batman performers), will be on hand for the celebration to discuss his body of work as well as his directorial debut in the film "Merry Gentleman." In a whimsical twist, the festival will also screen "Beetlejuice," arguably the actor's most overlooked but complicated and inspired performance.
 
So it's Movie Night again in Sonoma! And you can't use the I-can't-get-babysitting excuse. Netflix will be there when you get home. See you at the Festival.

Ticket options include $10 door tickets, $60 all-day passes, plus all-week festival passes, VIP premier passes, and VIP all-access patron passes. To purchase tickets, and for complete film listings, screening times, events, child-care and celebrity appearances, visit  www.SonomaFilmFest.org, or call (707) 933-2600.

To reserve a spot in advance for "Kid Zone!" Film Festival Child Care, or for more information, please call Sarah Duran at (707) 933-9933.


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