Top Film Festivals in Sonoma County

Sonoma International Film Festival

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Top Film Festivals in Sonoma County

Sonoma County's diverse and distinctive scenery and its mild climate make it an attractive location to make movies, but it's also a great place to watch them, with a growing number of film festivals scheduled throughout the year.

Ranging from three to four screenings on a single day to multiple-day schedules with showings of 70 to 90 movies or more, these festivals let film aficionados indulge their passion while enjoying the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country. There should be plenty of popcorn available, and many of these events also offer a chance to taste some of the farm-to-table delights of Sonoma County.

Here's a short overview of Sonoma County's film festivals, in the calendar order they occur each year. 

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

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, including the historic Sebastiani Theatre (see photo)
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).   

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 festival shows "The Birds" 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

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. Screenings are at the Mystic Theatre in downtown Petaluma. Each program features post-screening discussions with filmmakers.
Mystic Theatre, 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 

Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival

October 2019, 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 summer; tickets go on sale in September. Screenings are typically held at Rialto Cinemas (6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol).
Jewish Community Center Sonoma County, 1301 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-528-4222.

Alexander Valley Film Festival

Oct. 17-20, 2019, Cloverdale and Healdsburg
Each year this four-day celebration of film, food, music, wine, heritage, and hospitality welcomes more than 2,000 patrons for a unique mix of independent cinema with a Hollywood flare. Held in The Clover Theater in Cloverdale, the Raven Film Center in Healdsburg, and other venues throughout northern Sonoma County, the festival features domestic and international narrative features, documentaries, and short films; the best in Sonoma County hospitality, chefs, cuisine, and wineries; a student film competition amplified by visiting professional filmmakers; community events and screenings in the vineyards; and more. 
The Clover Theater, 121 E. First St., Cloverdale.
Raven Film Center, 415 Center St., Healdsburg.

Alexander Valley Film Society, 707-893-7150.