Film Schedule - Fall 2019

Free Admission

The Sonoma Film Institute is no longer selling tickets for film screenings. Suggested donation is $5 and all donations are tax deductible.


Poster for Buddy
Friday, August 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, August 25, 2019 - 4:00pm

“Heddy Honigmann, who has had retrospectives at MoMA and the Centre Pompidou, is the ne plus ultra of documentary filmmakers. With BUDDY, she turns her unerring eye to the relationship between dogs and people. Forget the ubiquitous “emotional support dog,” everyone’s favorite companion. These six pooches do amazing things: they open and close drawers, turn their mistress over in bed, remove paper from the computer printer, push a syringe into flesh, put on a woman’s socks, and pull up her blanket. They soothe a veteran with PTSD and a severely autistic child. With characteristic reserves of warmth and humor, Honigmann gives the dogs equal face time – a film about love, courage and trust, both human and canine.” – Film Forum (in Dutch w/English subtitles)

Released: 2018
Run time: 86 min.

Closed for Labor Day

Sunday, September 1, 2019 - 3:00pm


Poster for Asako
Friday, September 6, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 4:00pm

“Amid a fireworks display, love hits Baku and Asako with a bang. Dreamy and distracted, Baku mysteriously disappears six months later, and a devastated Asako moves from Osaka to Tokyo, where she meets her former beau’s exact lookalike who claims his name is Ryohei and has no knowledge of Baku. Taking a cue from Vertigo’s doppelganger scenario but changing the gender dynamics, Ryusuke Mamaguchi’s new film immersively explores his heroine’s shifting emotional tides, with stellar performances by Erika Karata as Asako and Masahiro Higashide as Ryhei and Baku.” – San Francisco International Film Festival. (In Japanese w/English subtitles)

Released: 2018
Run time: 119 min.


Poster for Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin
Friday, September 13, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 4:00pm

Best known for groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy works such as A Wizard Of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Her fascinating story has never before been captured on film. Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a journey through the writer’s career and her worlds, both real and fantastic. The film features stunning animation and reflections by literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, and more. Directed by Arwen Curry.

Director Arwen Curry in Person on Friday ONLY!

Released: 2018
Run time: 68 min.


Poster for A Raisin in the Sun
Friday, September 20, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 4:00pm

Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun follows the Youngers, a black Chicago family aspiring to achieve the American Dream. The matriarch, Lena (Claudia McNeil), receives an insurance payment and plans to buy a house in a better neighborhood, but her son, Walter (Sidney Poitier), wants to invest it in a liquor store that will generate income. Tensions among the family members are complicated by the resistance of white residents who live near the new home. Daniel Petrie’s direction earned him an award at the Cannes Film Festival, but it is Hansberry’s sharply observed perspectives, realized in the memorable acting of McNeil and Poitier in particular, that assure this compelling film a place in movie history.

Released: 1961
Run time: 128 min.


Poster for 13 Conversations About One Thing
Friday, September 27, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, September 29, 2019 - 4:00pm

A collection of morose New Yorkers swirl around four fables of urban dissatisfaction woven into a fabric whose pattern is as enchantingly elusive as the one thing they are supposed to be talking about. John Turturro is a physics professor, Matthew McConaughey a cocky young prosecutor, Alan Arkin a glum older fellow, Clea DuVall a young housecleaner convinced that her life is a part of a benevolent and mysterious design. Jill Sprecher's film loops forward and backward. "As you puzzle over the intricacies of its shape, which reveal themselves only in retrospect, you may also find yourself surprised by the depths of its insights." - A. O. Scott, The New York Times.

Released: 2002
Run time: 104 min.


Poster for The Third Wife
Friday, October 4, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, October 6, 2019 - 4:00pm

Born and raised in Vietnam, writer/director Ash Mayfair has drawn upon her familial history (both grandmother and great-grandmother were in arranged marriages at a young age) to create the fictitious 19th century drama of 14-year-old May, who becomes the third wife of an older man. With a largely female cast and crew, THE THIRD WIFE portrays the strictures of patriarchy, the rules by which a woman can gain some degree of prestige and power (as the mother of a son), and the consequences any deviance will engender. But most of all, this is a story of emotional bonding among three generations of women, in a setting that is both exquisitely beautiful and painfully repressive.  (In Vietnamese w/ English subtitles)

Released: 2018
Run time: 96 min.


Poster for Mur Murs
Friday, October 11, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, October 13, 2019 - 4:00pm

“Venturing from Venice Beach to Watts, Varda looks at the murals of Los Angeles as backdrop to and mirror of the city’s many cultures circa 1980. She casts a curious eye on graffiti and photorealism, roller disco and gang violence, evangelical Christians, Hare Krishnas, artists, angels, and ordinary Angelenos. Along the meandering way, we meet the creators of some of California’s most memorable wall art, including Judy Baca, mastermind of the Great Wall of Los Angeles project along the L.A. River; Arno Jordan, painter of the ironically bucolic scenes adorning the Farmer John meatpacking plant; and Kent Twitchell, who offers a theological rationale for a depiction of the Holy Trinity starring actors from Lassie, The Lone Ranger, and Father Knows Best. The film is very Varda and very L.A.: vibrating with color and surprising juxtapositions, rich in illusion and allusion.” - Juliet Clark, Pacific Film Archive (1980, 82 min., in French w/English subtitles) 


Varda would often travel from L.A. to Oakland during the late ‘60’s to film Black Panther meetings and demonstrations with a borrowed 16mm camera. In 1968, she turned her camera on an Oakland demonstration against the imprisonment of activist and Black Panther’s co-founder Huey P. Newton. In addition to Varda’s fascination with her adopted surroundings and her empathy, this perceptive short is also a powerful political statement.  (28 min.)

Released: 1980
Run time: 110 min. total


Poster for One Sings
Friday, October 18, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 4:00pm

Six years after Agnes Varda added her name to the Manifesto of the 343 — a declaration by 343 women publicly proclaiming that they had had an abortion, despite the procedure still being illegal in France — she made this remarkable combination of social commentary and musical about a woman's right to choose. One Sings, the Other Doesn't is a decade-spanning chronicle of the friendship between two women, Suzanne (Thérèse Liotard) and Pauline (Valérie Mairesse), who first meet in 1962 when the teenage Suzanne, who is already a mother of two, decides to get an abortion. The film then jumps ten years ahead, finding the pair at very different stages in their lives — Suzanne is pursuing a career in family planning, while Pauline is an activist and a member of an all-female political protest band — but still deeply connected by their friendship. Dedicated to Varda's daughter Rosalie (who makes an appearance in the film), One Sings, the Other Doesn't is the rare film to treat the subject of abortion absent histrionics or hand-wringing, and in the process offers an alternate, utopic vision of what family can look like. (In French w/English subtitles)

Released: 1977
Run time: 121 min.


Poster for Black Narcissus
Friday, October 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, October 27, 2019 - 4:00pm

Rumer Godden Screen Adaptations

Co-sponsored by The Sitting Room Community Library, which all this Fall is enjoying reading the still seductive writings of Rumer Godden.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s resplendent adaptation of Rumer Godden’s novel about a group of nuns struggling to establish a mission in the remote Himalayas. The film is a psychologically acute, powerful study of the conflict between Christianity and the forces of nature. As the nuns do battle with the rigors of climate, they must also confront the forces of mysticism, madness and sexual frustration. Deborah Kerr won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actress, and Jack Cardiff won a well-deserved Oscar for his outstanding Technicolor cinematography.

Terry Ebinger will introduce BLACK NARCISSUS and lead a discussion after the screenings.

Released: 1947
Run time: 100 min.


Poster for The River
Friday, November 1, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, November 3, 2019 - 4:00pm

Rumer Godden Screen Adaptations

Co-sponsored by The Sitting Room Community Library, which all this Fall is enjoying reading the still seductive writings of Rumer Godden.

Jean Renoir’s first film in color was shot in India and is based on a Rumer Godden novel about a young girl’s growing up in a foreign land. “The river is a potent image for Renoir – remember BOUDU and A DAY IN THE COUNTRY – but in India, Renoir learned its value as a mystical symbol of continuity in the face of all local, human tragedy. – David Thomson (1951, 99 min.)

Eleanor Nichols will introduce THE RIVER on Friday night ONLY.

Released: 1951
Run time: 99 min.


Poster for What You Gonna Do
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, November 10, 2019 - 4:00pm

Italian-born, American South–based filmmaker Roberto Minervini’s follow-up to his Texas Trilogy is a portrait of African-Americans in New Orleans struggling to maintain their unique cultural identity and to find social justice. Shot in very sharp black and white, the film is focused on Judy, trying to keep her family afloat and save her bar before it’s snapped up by speculators; Ronaldo and Titus, two brothers growing up surrounded by violence and with a father in jail; Kevin, trying to keep the glorious local traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians alive; and the local Black Panthers, trying to stand up against a new, deadly wave of racism. This is a passionately urgent and strangely lyrical film experience.

Released: 2018
Run time: 123 min.


Poster for Gumshoe
Friday, November 15, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, November 17, 2019 - 4:00pm

(Albert Finney 1926-2019)

In 1971, the late, great Albert Finney played Eddie Ginley, a bingo caller in Liverpool who dreams of being a private detective. Eddie gives himself a birthday treat by placing a newspaper ad for a private detective: “SAM SPADE. Ginley’s the name, Gumshoe’s the game, Private Investigations. No Divorce Work.” From there a dark mystery unfolds as Eddie receives a gun in an envelope. Gumshoe, a criminally overlooked movie, marked Stephen Frears’ debut as a director. The stellar supporting cast includes Billie Whitelaw and Frank Finlay.

Released: 1971
Run time: 86 min.


Poster for Blindspotting
Friday, November 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
Sunday, November 24, 2019 - 4:00pm

"Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal wrote and star in this earnest and anguished comedic drama, set in Oakland and centered on black Americans’ mind-bending fear of prejudiced and trigger-happy police officers, but the movie’s substantial observations are dispersed in theatrics. Collin (Diggs), a black man in his last three days of probation nearly a year after his release from prison, and his best friend, Miles (Casal), who’s white, work together as furniture movers. Returning home at night, Collin witnesses a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man in the back. Meanwhile, Miles buys a gun, unbeknownst to his girlfriend, Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), putting both his relationship and Collin’s freedom at risk. The gentrification of Oakland is a recurring theme, but the film pivots on Miles’s hotheaded behavior, for which Collin pays the price. Directed by Carlos López Estrada." — Richard Brody, THE NEW YORKER

Released: 2018
Run time: 95 min.

Closed for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28, 2019 - 11:30am


Poster for Funny Face
Friday, December 6, 2019 - 7:00pm

Stanley Donen (1924-2019)

Directed by the legendary Stanley Donen, who died this year at age 94, Funny Face is one of the most visually dazzling movies of the 1950s, a Paris-set musical featuring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire at their most charming. Featuring gowns by Hubert de Givenchy and a selection of beloved songs by George and Ira Gershwin (including “S’wonderful” and “How Long Has This Been Going On?”), Funny Face follows the transformation of Hepburn’s demure bookstore girl into a fashion icon, with the help of Astaire’s photographer (a character inspired by Richard Avedon). Funny Face continues to enchant audiences more than 60 years after its premiere. 

Released: 1957
Run time: 108 min.