The programs for the 17th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, coming Wednesday through Sunday to a theater near you, are finally ready.
“A special thanks to our 200 filmmakers who are coming to Sonoma from over 12 countries,” wrote Kevin McNeely, SIFF’s executive director, in the program’s introduction. The festival is showing movies from 22 countries this year, McNeely said, and he added, “I encourage you to see as many films as possible and enjoy nightly parties at the Backlot tent!”
But it’s not always obvious, especially to the SIFF newcomer, how to go about seeing those films. With 105 screenings in a dozen venues over four-and-a-half days, figuring out where to go when, and how much to spend – and for that matter, how to buy tickets in the first place – can be daunting.
Some people prefer to make their transactions face-to-face, and according to Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, SIFF’s public relations director, their chance will come Wednesday afternoon.
“The box office will be set up on Wednesday after 1 o’clock, and it will be located on the Plaza on the east side of City Hall,” Mendoza-Carruth said.
That’s where printed programs can be acquired, passes purchased, and questions asked of SIFF staff members and volunteers.
For those wanting to do their SIFF shopping online, the obvious first step is to go to sonomafilmfest.org, where a full schedule is available as well as a variety of festival passes.
Those passes range from the $2,500 “patron pass” – described as including “all festival and year-round dinners, film series, reserved seating at all festival films and a tax deduction of $1,500” – to the $75 day pass, good for all films, panels and Backlot tent events on a given day.
There are other options, such as the $250 “cinema pass,” granting access to any and all movies and panel discussions – from opening night’s “Dom Hemingway” to closing night’s “Belle,” both at the Sebastiani Theatre. And for the party animals there’s the $200 “soiree party pass,” which gets holders into all of the parties (excluding Friday night’s “Born in Chicago” concert) but none of the movies.
That one’s good for people who say, “I like parties, I like the celebration, I don’t particularly care about the films,” Mendoza-Carruth explained. Only 50 such passes are being offered this year, and about half had been sold as of Monday.
Other festival goers are the opposite: interested in going to a few films, but to none of the parties or other events. One option for them is to buy individual tickets for $15 each. This is done online by perusing the film schedule and clicking on a film, causing a window to open with info on the film. From there, click on “Tickets” to purchase. Or tickets can be bought in person at the box office for $15.
However, Mendoza-Carruth pointed out that certain screenings do not offer tickets for pre-sale. For example, in the case of opening night’s “Dom Hemingway,” “Sebastiani will get to capacity with pass-holders, sponsors and everybody who will attend the opening night reception,” she said. Individual tickets also are not available for screenings at Murphy’s Irish Pub or Sonoma Valley Museum of Art because they are such small venues.