Wine Country Film Festival comes to the valley
World-class cinema, food and wine
The 31st Wine Country Film Festival (WCFF), wine country's original showcase of international cinema, unspools its magic Sept. 22-24 in Sonoma Valley.
WCFF boasts a showcase of 51 films from 22 countries, including nine films from new independent filmmakers from Iran, engaging conversations with filmmakers, winemakers and chefs, a seminar with world-renown sommelier Charlie Arturaola, an Opening Night Derby Outfit Contest, and some of the world's best wines and delicious food prepared specially to complement the movies.
New this year is “Films al Fresco™” - three international features screened outdoors under the stars at Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen. The other venue is the historic Kenwood Depot, where films, seminars and special events take place throughout the weekend.
The Grand Opening Night at Quarryhill, Friday, Sept. 22, showcases the feature film Kincsem, a Hungarian production. Having its international premiere at WCFF, the film is the true story of romance and intrigue following Kincsem, the most successful Thoroughbred race horse ever. Foaled in Kisbér, Hungary, in 1874, she is a national icon, and is revered all over the world. Over four seasons, Kincsem won all her races against both females and males at various race tracks across Europe, a record still unbeaten. Opening Night admission is $20. Special Hungarian wines sponsored by Patricius Wines include a rare Patricius Tokaj.
Moviegoers are invited to don their best derby outfits. Winners of the derby contest win two tickets to the festival's closing night film Tour de France, an amiable mismatched-buddy road movie that throws together veteran acting legend Gerard Depardieu and rapper Sadek. Sponsored by North Bay Credit Union, the Closing Night film admission is $20.
Saturday's Sept. 23 program is packed with special events. There is a three-hour seated tasting seminar with world-renown Sommelier Charlie Arturaola and Sommelier Christopher Sawyer, an American ambassador for the Concours Mondial du Brussels, and Michael Traverso, senior brand manager for Wilson Daniels in Healdsburg, will introduce wines from the grapes of the Italo-Argentinean comedy The Duel of Wine about a sommelier (starring Arturaola) who has lost his sense of taste. The comedy screens at Quarryhill later that night. Admission to the film only is $20.
“Taste your Senses - The Family Wines of The Duel” seminar includes eight tastes of wines that are featured in the film including Arnaldo Caprai (Umbria), Champagne Gosset (France), Venissa (Veneto), Txakoli (Basque), Chianti Classico, Rioja Alavesa, Malbec Catena, among others. Runs 2-5 p.m., $75 per person at Quarryhill. Reservations are required. Seating is limited.
Then, don't miss Inuit Lands: The Melting Point, on Sept. 23, 5 p.m. at the Kenwood Depot. Traveling across Greenland from 2011 through 2013 documentary filmmaker Patrick Morell creates a tribute to the internationally renowned French explorer, geomorphologist and ethno historian Jean Maluarie and his lifetime study of the Arctic people. The film exposes the changes affecting the small hunting and fishing communities of northern Greenland today, including globalization, market economies, and climate change. Q&A with filmmaker after the film. Admission $10.
Morell, a freelance documentary cinematographer and director dedicates his films to deepening the understanding of the human experience. Raised in France and graduated from the Sorbonne with degrees in philosophy and journalism, he will give a master class on documentary filmmaking on Sunday, Sept 24, 9 a.m. at the Depot. Admission $10.
At Quarryhill, please no outside alcohol, beverages or food. Wines are offered by the glass or bottle for purchase. Rainy Day Chocolate & Catering, the exclusive WCFF food vendor, will prepare a special menu each night to complement the film's country of production. Some chairs are provided on a first come, first serve basis. Low back chairs and blankets are welcome. Gates open at 6 p.m. and films screen at 7:45 p.m. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a jacket (nights get cool) and a flashlight. No smoking.
Pick up a program guide at a WCFF venue or go online to www.wcff.us. Individual film tickets ($10-$20) can be purchased day of show (cash only) or online. Program is subject to change.