This month marks the 80th anniversary of the Sebastiani Theatre. I have been attending movies there for the better part of 70 of those years.
Whenever I need to connect with my childhood in Sonoma, I persuade Dottie to join me for a movie at Sebastiani Theatre. Usually, the movies are good, even great, but the experience would be pleasurable in any case.
Somehow, some way, Roger Rhoten and the wonderful volunteers for the Sebastiani Theater Foundation, in partnership with the City of Sonoma, have saved our little hometown movie theater in spite of fierce competition from the chain-operated and virtually automated multiplexes that surround us.
I was reminded of Roger’s dedication again during the Sonoma Valley International Film Festival, for which all of us should also thank the local festival group led by Kevin McNeely. As good as the films were, watching them at the Sebastiani was, and always is, special.
As a young boy, I was in awe of the theater’s trappings, the enormously high ceiling with those incredible light fixtures, the Florentine decor, the balcony where I first kissed a girl. Even the ticket booth and entry way seemed grand and mysterious.