Guide to Film Festivals in Sonoma County

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Guide to Film Festivals in Sonoma County

Many parts of Sonoma County are so picturesque they look like they belong on a movie screen, and indeed, Wine Country attracts an array of actors, film makers, and film festival organizers.

The festivals, in particular, keep growing more popular, with new ones popping up each year. Ranging from small venues showing a half-dozen screenings on a single day, to multiple-day schedules celebrating some 100 movies all across downtown Sonoma, these festivals showcase international talents.

Because we're in Sonoma County, the festivals usually include food and wine, too. What's more elegant, after all, than an afternoon in an artsy movie theater, nibbling West County charcuterie and sipping local wines?

Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival

October 2020, Sebastopol
Each year the film festival committee at the Jewish Community Center in Santa Rosa screens more than 100 dramas, comedies, and documentaries to pick six that will be shown during the annual festival in October. The goal is to present a slice of Jewish life from around the world, and the festival's tagline is that you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy these movies. The 2020 films will be announced in the summer. Screenings are typically held at Rialto Cinemas (6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol).

Alexander Valley Film Festival 

October 2020, Cloverdale and Healdsburg
This annual four-day celebration of film, food, music, wine, heritage, and hospitality is typically held in two theaters in the Alexander Valley, one in the town of Cloverdale and the other in Healdsburg, on the third weekend in October. The goal is to showcase new and emerging talents worldwide, including student films from throughout the region. The festival includes domestic and international narrative features, documentaries, short films, special programs, winners from the Student Film Competition, community events and screenings, an opening night celebration, and more.
Alexander Film Society, 707-893-7105

Israeli Film Festival

March 2020, Sebastopol
Founded in 2016 and hosted by the Jewish Community Center, the Israeli Film Festival features handpicked films from Israel. All screenings are typically held at Rialto Cinemas (6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol).
Jewish Community Center Sonoma County, 1301 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-528-4222. 

Sonoma International Film Festival 

Sonoma International Film Festival 2020 logo

March 25-29, 2020, Sonoma
Held over five days in the eastern Sonoma County town of Sonoma, the Sonoma International Film Festival is an intimate celebration of unforgettable cinema, world-class food, and fine wine. The line-up typically features more than 90 hand-selected films, including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, and shorts. All movies are shown in intimate venues within walking distance of the town's historic central plaza. The festival is dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world, and inspiring film lovers.
Presented by the Sonoma International Film Society, 707-933-2600. 

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

March 2020, Sebastopol
Each year the Sebastopol Center for the Arts strives to bring the best documentaries and filmmakers from around the world to Sonoma County for its annual award-winning Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. Twice named "One of the Coolest Film Festivals" by MovieMaker Magazine, the Sebastopol event has become one of the important and special stops on the documentary festival circuit. Films are typically screened at the Rialto Cinemas (6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol) and the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (282 S. High St., Sebastopol, 707-829-4797).  

Hitchcock Film Festival

Hitchcock profile

March 28, 2020, Bodega Bay
Thriller movie master Alfred Hitchcock loved Bodega Bay - his masterpiece "The Birds" was filmed there and in the nearby small town of Bodega - and Bodega Bay returns the appreciation with its annual one-day Hitchcock Film Festival. The event raises money for Bodega Bay and Tomales elementary schools. Each year "The Birds" is shown twice, and one or two other Hitchcock films are screened once each. Special guest and Hitchcock enthusiast Dan Sneed opens each film with interesting facts and highlights. 
Bodega Bay Grange Hall, 1370 Bodega Ave., Bodega Bay. Sponsored by Bodega Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, 707-347-9645.

Film Fest Petaluma

Petaluma Film Association logo

May 2020, Petaluma
Film Fest Petaluma showcases the best of new animated and live action short films from around the world, with filmmakers in attendance. Screening are at the Mystic Theatre in downtown Petaluma. Each program features post-screening discussions with filmmakers.
Mystic Theatre, 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma