Sonoma International Film Festival 2018

I often forget that just because something is local, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a travel worthy event. This year I attended the 21st annual Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) and managed to see 6 films over 3 days and enjoy some beautiful if not a wee bit rainy Sonoma Valley.

My favorite part of the festival is that the little town square of Sonoma turns into Sonomawood! It is like be in Hollywood but with good wine!

You can buy festival passes or buy tickets for each film that you want to see. However, everyone with a pass is entitled to enter the movie first and just because you have a ticket, you are not guaranteed a seat in the theater so if you are a big movie buff, the pass is worth it!

Walking around the square there is plenty to see and do between films. We started with an awesome brunch at the Girl and the Fig with an assortment of mussels, duck mousse, truffle fries and steak tartare accompanied by some bubbles before moving onto the main course. It was decadent and delicious!

There is not a lot of space or time to rest between films but we snuck in a few minutes and laid down on a dry part of concrete and caught a few rays and some shut eye just in time to run to another film!

So, what movies did I see? I liked most of them but a few of them I would like to never see again!

In The Orchard

Summary: Charlotte Winston, recovering from a car crash which has recently taken the lives of her husband and child, finds herself unable to stop her downward spiral of despair and loneliness. An eventual suicide attempt is thwarted by Nick, a Marine veteran suffering from PTSD, who comes onto her orchard. Charlotte and Nick begin a tenuous and complicated relationship as Nick stays to help her run the farm. Through a series of unforeseen events, Nick’s mental state begins to wind violently out of control as Charlotte struggles to hang on to their new world together.

Thoughts: This movie had potential but runs too long as the dialogue is slow. It is definitely not an uplifting feel good movie but a movie to discover the relationship that can develop between people. Not my kind of movie but I know some people really enjoyed it.

Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There

Summary: A feature length film that explores the life of award-winning audio artist Joe Frank whose innovative work and career on radio has spanned four decades.

Thoughts: I had never heard of Joe Frank and went into this documentary not expecting anything. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Joe Frank and I thought the movie moved quickly and seemed to highlight the man as he was. If you want to learn about someone interesting, I highly suggest this documentary!

Beyond The River

Summary: Inspired by the true story of Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, who together won gold in the 2014 Dusi, Beyond the River delivers a nail-biting adventure story about the triumph of the human spirit.

Thoughts: Fantastic movie about the life of two men and one sport that brought them together. I knew nothing about the Dusi and watching this movie was like an uplifting unexpected look into a part of the world and a part of life I never knew about. There are some subtitles for the Afrikaans but most is in English.

These are the people the movie is based on.

You Can’t Say No

Summary: Just days from signing divorce papers, Hank and Alexandra give their relationship one final shot by playing a game with only one rule: no matter what they ask each other to do, they can’t say no.

Thoughts: This movie was really funny! The movie takes you on a journey with laughs and fun experiences and a fun love story. The characters are well developed and the movie is based in Sonoma County so grab your wine and sit down for lots of laughs and a great idea for relationships!

Under The Tree

Summary: When Baldwin and Inga’s next door neighbours complain that a tree in their backyard casts a shadow over their sundeck, what starts off as a typical spat between neighbours in the suburbs unexpectedly and violently spirals out of control.

Thoughts: This is a foreign film from Iceland with subtitles and a little weird. The plot is oddly funny and disturbing and you do grow to feel for the characters. The ending is gruesome but slightly expected from a foreign film.

Life Hack

Summary: Life Hack is an incredibly timely ensemble comedy about digital privacy… or lack thereof. A humorous cautionary tale about cyber threats in the digital age. Cover your webcam.

Thoughts: Think The Hangover but for cyber security. Tons of hilarious jokes and oddly true to life for so many people. This was one of my favorite films and absolutely worth seeing. Anyone that has ever owned a computer or a cellphone will understand this movie.

My Tour of the PNW…Portland

My last stop on my mini US adventure was to Portland, Oregon. This was not my first trip to Portland but I wanted to hang with my friends for the weekend and do a little wine and beer tasting.

I took Amtrak from Seattle to Portland which was just a few hours and very scenic. For anyone that hasn’t headed down the coast by train, I highly recommend it.

My friend picked me up and we went to Deschutes to start the beer tasting. The selection was pretty great and the beer was was a great way to start the afternoon. After that we went to 10 Barrel Brewing for dinner and some more beer. They have a couple with a pretty high % so watch out when you are ordering!


The next day was all about wine tasting. My friend told me about this wonderful winery called Prive and so we started there. It was a private tasting and husband and wife that run everything. There is a $20 dollar tasting fee that is waved with the purchase of some vino. The bottles start at around $35. This is an absolute must see as far as I am concerned for wine tasting in Oregon.


Next up was Alexana! I was very excited to visit here since I have been to their sister vineyard Corazon del Sol in Argentina. There is a beautiful outdoor patio to enjoy a fine selection of wines. The tasting fee is $20 and the selection varies depending on what they are tasting that day. Unfortunately for us, it was incredibly hot and not enjoyable to be outside.


One cannot just consume wine and not eat. We stopped at this great little place called Red Hills Market where they were having a Veuve Clicquot party. I was hoping for a free glass but alas, only food was consumed.

The last stop was not planned and we just found something in the surrounding area. We ended up at a  winery called Four Graces. The tasting fee was only $10 but once again, it was so hot that we just stayed in the tasting room and didn’t get to enjoy the beautiful picnic area they had to offer. They served a delicious crisp white that was perfect for the weather!


It was an eventful two days in Portland with mouth watering discoveries. There is often pretty cheap airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco which can be found on Skyscanner (my favorite website for booking airfare) for a quick trip up the coast.

As usual, LA greeted me with her smoggy air. Welcome home!

My version of Sideways

I love traveling and heading to exotic and weird places and often times forget that I grew up in an amazing place in California. I grew up in Sonoma County in Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen. For those of you who have no idea what that means, it means I grew up in the heart of the wine country!

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There are tons of choices for wineries in Sonoma County and you could spend a month wine tasting and still probably not experience them all. For a full list just click here. Everyone has their favorite places based on location or family friends or preference for the varietal from the region. Some of my favorites are listed below.

Muscardini – Michael Muscardini is a family friend and makes a Sangiovese that is to die for!

Benziger – Once again, some long time family friends with wines at a great price point!

Gloria Ferrer – For those bubble lovers out there, stop by Gloria Ferrer and take in the views of the rolling vineyards while sipping on a glass of Brut Rose.

Imagery – Head to Imagery and take a tour through their art gallery where every wine label is displayed and has an image of the Parthenon hidden somewhere on it.

Bella – Much like the name, Bella is absolutely stunning. A great place to stop and have lunch while tasting.

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