Green Celluloid


The rains are here, it’s still dark by 5:30pm and spending stats report that we’re all hiding out winter’s worst by going to the movies. The Sonoma Environmental Film Festival, therefore, is perfectly aligned with our wintry sights.

Now in its third year, the SEFF features documentaries this year on gorillas, climate change, the ocean’s health, Amazonian natives, Tibetan dams, urban sustainability, the politics of Big Organics and visionary thinking, among others.

Running Jan. 22&–24 at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, the festival begins and ends with feature films and offers a New Orleans buffet lunch on Saturday that begins—per the lessons of Katrina—with dessert (“Life can change, eat dessert first” goes the motto). Other special events within the festival include a screening of Numen: The Nature of Plants (above) followed by a discussion of the healing properties of the natural world paneled by members of the Sonoma County Herb Exchange, United Plant Savers and a rep from the Traditional Medicinals tea company (Jan. 23). Local heroes are featured on Sunday with screenings of A Return to Dry Farming examining area vineyards and The Story of STRAW, which finds Peter Coyote narrating the evolution of a fourth grade Sonoma County class project now a 20-mile restorative program run by the Bay Institute.

The fest starts on Friday with A Touch of Spice, a Greek film that takes on food as love and features a reception with island fare and ends with Blue Heavens, a love story set in Kyrgyzstan in which a vagabond in search of his father falls in love with a woman trapped in an abusive marriage. All variety of issues large and small show in between. Perfect for the introspection of the rains.

The Sonoma Environmental Film Festival runs Friday&–Sunday, Jan. 22-24, at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, 574 First St. E., Sonoma. Films screen all day; $8&–$10. For details, call 707.935.3456 or go to

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