Opening, closing night films set
For Sonoma International Film Festival
Michael Shannon leads the cast in “The Iceman,” which will open the 16th annual Sonoma International Film Festival.
Celebrating its Sweet 16, the Sonoma International Film Festival opens with a bang and the suspense thriller, “The Iceman” before closing on a pensive note with the emotional French love story “A Monkey on My Shoulder.”
Set for April 10 to 14, the long cinematic weekend will bring more than 100 films embellished by celebrity tributes, movie-maker panels and a plethora of themed parties.
This week, festival director Kevin McNeely announced the signature films that will bookend this year’s festival. “The Iceman” is based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, who confessed to murdering more than 100 people as a hitman for the mob, including Jimmy Hoffa, the famed Teamsters Union leader who disappeared in 1975. When Kuklinski was arrested in 1986, his wife and three children had no idea of the decades he spent as a cold-blooded killer, earning the nickname “Iceman” for freezing his victims.
The film takes an intimate look at the dual life Kuklinski (Michael Shannon, Oscar nominee for “Revolutionary Road”) attempted to balance, between his wife (Winona Ryder, “Girl, Interrupted”) and family, and the life he maintained as a contract killer. Ray Liotta (“Good Fellas”), Chris Evans (“The Avengers”), James Franco (“127 Hours”) and Stephan Dorff (“World Trade Center”) round out the strong cast of the film, which has been well-received by critics, earning the Capri Breakout Director Award for filmmaker Ariel Vromen. Vromen and Liotta will attend the festival to present the film on Wednesday, April 10, following the welcoming reception that opens the weekend’s events.
The closing night film moves a full 180 degrees away from the anxiety-inducing “Iceman,” bringing the quiet, thoughtful drama “A Monkey on My Shoulder” (originally titled “À Coeur Ouvert (An Open Heart)”). In this art house film, Mila (Juliette Binoche, “Chocolat”) and Javier (Edgar Ramirez, “Zero Dark Thirty”) are introduced as a vibrant pair of heart surgeons who are also husband and wife. While their passion for their work is prolific, their relationship begins to crumble as Javier’s love of alcohol obscures his love for his wife. The situation only grows more complicated when Mila becomes pregnant with a child she doesn’t want. Directed by Marion Laine, the film has received mixed reviews that praise its powerful performances while questioning the meandering storyline. “A Monkey on My Shoulder” screens on Sunday, April 14.
To see more films, events and highlights of the 16th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, or to purchase passes, visit sonomafilmfest.org.