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Top Film Festivals in Sonoma County

The historic town of Sonoma becomes Sonomawood each spring for the Sonoma International Film Festival.

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 a half-dozen 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 order they will occur.

Israeli Film Festival

March 6-27, 2018, 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.

Hitchcock Film Festival

March 17, 2018, 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. The 2018 festival screens three films — "The Birds," "To Catch a Thief," and "Family Plot" — with introductions by Hitchcock enthusiast Dan Sneed. 
Bodega Bay Grange Hall, 1370 Bodega Ave., Bodega Bay. Sponsored by Bodega Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, 707-347-9645.

Sonoma International Film Festival

March 21-25, 2018, 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 22-25, 2018, 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 Sebstopol 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). 

Film Fest Petaluma

May 8, 2018, Petaluma
Film Fest Petaluma showcases the best of new animated and live action short films from around the world, with filmmakers in attendance. The 10th annual event will be hosted 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

Oct. 9, 17, 24, and 30, and Nov. 13 and 27, 2018, 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 and November. 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. 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

October 2018, 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. 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.

OutWatch Film Festival

November 2018, Sonoma County
Billed as the "wine country's LGBTQI film festival,” OutWatch is committed to presenting Sonoma County with the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex films. OutWatch typically hosts three days of films and parties, Friday to Saturday.
3rd Street Cinema, 620 3rd St., Santa Rosa

Wine Country Film Festival

On Hold, Sonoma Valley 
This eclectic five-day celebration of cinema, the arts, and culture screens films in various venues, both indoors and out, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The festival's office and equipment burned in the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County, so there will be no 2018 festival, which is "on hold" until 2019.
Various locations throughout the Sonoma Valley; 707-933-6177.

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