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Film Fest films for parents and children

The famous Olate dogs will perform tricks at the Sebastiani Theatre on Saturday morning.

The famous Olate dogs will perform tricks at the Sebastiani Theatre on Saturday morning.

Lorna Sheridan/Index-Tribune Education Editor

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The Sonoma International Film Festival’s slate of more than 100 films from 22 countries includes children’s offerings that span both weekend days.

Who can resists dogs that do tricks? On Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Sebastiani Theatre, a children’s program starts with two charming shorts, “Fortissimo” (14 minutes), and the French film, “Le Sauvetage” (6 minutes). The latter film has French subtitles with an English voice-over and features the renowned Olate dogs, who won “America’s Got Talent” in 2012. The dogs will be at the theater and will perform tricks after the film.

After the shorts program, the children from “Everybody Is A Star” will perform their musical act (as seen at the San Francisco Giants stadium and recently at the Oakland Warrior games) under the direction of Nick Olate.

At noon, SIFF will screen the Disney nature film “Wings of Life” that is narrated by Meryl Streep and takes “an intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers and is a celebration of life, as a third of the world’s food supply depends on these incredible – and increasingly threatened – creatures.”

The children’s program is free for children and $10 a ticket for parents.

At 10 a.m. Sunday, SIFF is offering the pre-theatrical release of the animated kids comedy sequel, “Rio 2,” at the Sebastiani Theatre. Local audiences have the opportunity to see the movie weeks before it comes out in the theaters around the country. Tickets to “Rio 2” are $15.

Elsewhere around the festival, there is a Cuban film that should appeal to teens, as well as parents. “Viva Cuba” brings to mind “Romeo and Juliet,” with a plot centering around the friendship between two children threatened by their parents’ social class differences. This film plays at 1:45 p.m. Friday, April 4, at Murphy’s Irish Pub and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at La Luz with its director coming from Havana to present his film.

In the documentary category, the much-lauded film “Born In Chicago,” tells the story of “middle class white kids who learned to play and live the blues directly from its most legendary practitioners.” This film, most appropriate for adults, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building, and will be followed by a Q&A with a number of the film’s principal musical players and a full concert that is expected to include some special guests from the film. Tickets for the film screening and concert event are priced at $55.

Also in the documentary category, “The Human Experiment” examines “the shocking reality that thousands of untested chemicals are in our everyday products, our homes and inside of us.”

From Oscar-winner Sean Penn and Emmy-winning journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, “The Human Experiment” tells the stories of people who believe their lives have been affected by chemicals and interviews the activists who are going head-to-head with the powerful and well-funded chemical industry. “This is an issue important to all parents and might be an excellent eye-opener for teens,” said SIFF’s Kevin McNeely. The film shows at 4:45 p.m. Friday, April 4, at Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Andrews Hall.

Finally, middle schoolers and teens always enjoy the shorts produced by Peter Hansen’s media arts film students at Sonoma Valley High School. That free program is at the Sebastiani Theater at 9 a.m. Thursday and Sunday mornings.

More detailed scheduling information about all the other films that will be screened this weekend is available at sonomafilmfest.org.