Back on the big screen


Popular actress Karen Allen, who has 65 film and television credits, including her role as Marion Ravenswood in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’, will do a Q&A with some 175 Sonoma Valley High School film students Wednesday, March 23 at 9 a.m. at the Sebastiani Theater. This will happen this year during the student showcase of the media arts program, a compilation of student short films.

“Karen will talk about her own teaching at Bard College, her high school experiences and her 50 years of experience in the industry,” said Peter Hansen, a professor at SVHS, who has screened student films at the festival during 20 years. He says most of the students are familiar with Allen’s work in the Indiana Jones movie and are thrilled that she’s coming.

“I will review with them his long history of other work,” Hansen said. “Her artistic and authentic self will be refreshing for this impressionable age group.”

The film festival and its members have provided the SVHS Media Arts Program with more than $750,000 since its inception, covering the costs of equipment, after-school programs, and scholarships for former SVHS students pursuing a degree in media arts at the university.

Hansen says that with the support of SIFF and its members, the program has remained at the forefront of industry technology by purchasing 30 state-of-the-art MacIntosh editing suites, Canon DSLR cameras, studio cameras Black Magic 4K and a control room. , as well as a podcast installation and a sound stage for voice-over work.

“Without SIFF, this program would have been abandoned 15 years ago because the school district was unable to afford the cost of necessary technological innovations,” Hansen said.

Special events galore

During the film festival, Pepin, an internationally acclaimed chef, will be honored with a dinner featuring a five-course dinner prepared by notable local chefs and paired with local wines. Each dish will be accompanied by a short culinary film during the dinner which will take place on Thursday, March 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cogir reception tent. Pepin will receive SIFF’s first Culinary Excellence Award, and it includes a $10,000 donation to the Jacques Pepin Foundation, which provides culinary training to adults and youth facing barriers to employment such as a low income, low skills, homelessness, substance abuse issues and previous incarceration.

The following day, Weir, a James Beard Award-winning chef, will be at the Cogir Hospitality Tent at 11 a.m. to present some segments of “Plates & Places,” a television series filmed on location at some of his favorite culinary destinations. Her presentation will be paired with a three-course meal she hosted from some of the locations.

TV chef, farmer, restaurateur and activist Duskie Estes will also appear at SIFF, screening the documentary ‘Kitchenistas’ and talking about her farm-to-table organization, which gleans Sonoma County farms to provide food for communities. underserved. His presentations will take place on Thursday, March 24 and Saturday, March 26, both at 2:30 p.m. at Burlingame Hall.

The SIFF Industry Mixer, a private industry-only event, will be held on Friday, March 25 at 4 p.m. at Anaba Wines. It provides guest filmmakers, legal scholars and industry guests with a backdrop for networking, mentorship and sales opportunities among stakeholders.

Afrolicious, a San Francisco-based dance-fusion collective, will perform at SIFF Funk It Up Party, a pass-holder-only event, on Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at Cogir Hospitality Tent. The group was founded by brothers Joe “Pleasuremaker” McGuire and Oz “Senor Oz” McGuire and gained acclaim in large part through their weekly residency at the Elbo Room in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Entertainment professionals will take part in an industry panel, Filming in the Time of Covid, on Saturday March 26 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cogir Hospitality Tent. At this passholder-only event, panelists will discuss the changing landscape of film production and what content buyers, streaming services and distributors are looking for during these uncertain times, during which covering costs related to COVID-19 can represent up to 20% of a film’s budget.

A new offering, Granko VR Lounge, will allow festival-goers to experience virtual reality in three short films, streaming Saturday, March 26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 254 First St. E. Limited tickets will be available at the door to see the movies, “The Quest: Everest Experience,” as well as Samsung’s “The Atomic Tree” and “Sanctuaries of Silence.”

Several prizes will be awarded at the SIFF Saturday Night Awards on Saturday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Cogir Hospitality Tent. The SIFF Bay Area Filmmaker Award will be given to a Bay Area filmmaker and will include a $10,000 filmmaking package from Cinelease and Mare Island. Other film awards, selected by industry lawyers, will include Best English Language Feature, Best Foreign Feature and Best Documentary. Prizes will also be awarded to the best short films in the animation, comedy, documentary, drama and foreign categories. The event is for pass holders only, but a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

World and North American premieres

Seventy-nine films will premiere at the festival. The world premieres are “Children of the Vine”, a documentary directed by Brian Lilla; “Fair Play,” a documentary by director Jennifer Siebel Newsom; “Mixtape Trilogy: Stories of the Power of Music,” a documentary directed by Kathleen Ermitage; “The cheaters”, a feature film by director Louis Godbout; and “Winter Ball,” a feature from director Gardner Grady Hall.

In addition to “Butcher’s Daughter,” their North American premieres will be “Criollo,” a documentary by director Pablo Banchero; “Goodbye Happiness,” a feature film by director Ken Scott; “Harvest Moon”, a documentary by director Alfred Oliveri; “Open Season”, a feature film by director Michel Vandewalle; and “Till Sun Rises,” a feature film directed by Cara Sander.

Information about SIFF, including a full list of films and descriptions, is available at The 25th Anniversary Virtual Film Festival, with 20 selected films from the festival live this month, is set to be viewed on demand from April 23-30.

Contact the reporter, Dan Johnson, at


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