The 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival always brings plenty of headlines (it’s about the newest, most exciting film debuts in the world, after all). Yet this year, the event adds a little extra star power and glittery glam.
The festival, running April 11-15, pays tribute to legendary filmmaker John Waters, and more than just a cinematic salute, Waters himself will be in attendance, sharing insight into the charms that have made him one of America’s most innovative directors, authors, actors, and photographers.
If you love the movies Hairspray, Cry-Baby and Serial Mom, mark Saturday, April 14, on your calendar, for his one-man show, titled “This Filthy World.” It will be held at the Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Building, as a sure-to-be-super-delicious vaudeville act celebrating his film career and – here’s perhaps the tastiest part for our Reality TV driven lives – the obsessive tastes of the man that novelist William Burroughs once called “The Pope of Trash.”
Here’s what we’re hoping for: plenty of tacky humor, and a heaven-sent ticket for a front row orchestra seat including a private dinner with Waters (given that each VIP ticket is $500, we’ll be more realistically planning on the entry level $25 gallery seat). The dinner is planned as an intimate, candlelit affair for just a handful of guests, at a secret, secluded Sonoma winery.
Yet certainly the Waters show is just one element of the five-day event that takes over more than a half dozen venues across downtown Sonoma. There will be film premieres, panels with the talent behind them, live music performances and plenty of parties.
According to festival director Kevin McNeely, The 2011 Sonoma International Film Festival screened 97 films from 14 countries, and this year, he’s got even more films in the pending line-up.
Attendees can simply view films and cheer their favorites, or go for the deluxe experience, including access to all films and panels with “fast lane” entry for priority seating, access to all receptions and post-film parties, seats at all Spotlight Tributes, admission to the “Big Night” party, and entry to the special VIP food and wine area of the “Backlot” area next to the Sonoma City Hall off historic Sonoma Plaza.
Just one of the fine films in store for us is Wall: The Journey Up from Stephen J. Wampler, the first person with cerebral palsy to climb and summit Yosemite’s El Capitan peak.
Another tribute will be found in the La Quinceañera Film Fiesta, which McNeely calls a “festival within a festival.” It’s a first for Sonoma, featuring 15 films from Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, and other Spanish-language countries.
Still to be determined – you’ll just have to buy tickets to find out – are which other movie stars might be in the crowd celebrating the grand art of film. Previous Sonoma Festival guests have included luminaries like Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Robin Williams, Lauren Hutton, and Danny Glover.