Rialto Cinemas Opens with Oscar-Winning Lineup

After closing its doors more than a year ago due to Covid-19, downtown Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas once again presents films on the big screen beginning Friday, April 30.

The premiere movie house, which remained committed to presenting a diverse array of programming online while the pandemic persisted into 2021, celebrates its reopening this weekend by screening a variety of recent Academy Award-winning films in a safe and socially-distant manner.

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony, which aired on Sunday, April 25, honored several acclaimed films of 2020 and early 2021. Given that cinemas were closed throughout the last 13 months, this weekend will be the first time many moviegoers will be able to see these films on the big screen.

This weekend, Rialto Cinemas screens this year’s Best Picture winner Nomadland, which also garnered the Best Director Award for Chloé Zhao and the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for Frances McDormand. Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Nomadland follows Fern (Frances McDormand) as she packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.

Rialto Cinemas is also screening The Father this weekend, which earned the Best Actor in a Leading Role Award for screen legend Anthony Hopkins, who portrays an 80-year-old man with a mischievous spirit and failing memories. The Father also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Florian Zeller, who based the film on his 2012 play Le Père.

The film Minari is another touching family drama screening at Rialto this weekend. Hailed as a tender and sweeping story, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother, played by Best Supporting Actress winner Youn Yuh-jung.

Rialto Cinemas is also screening Judas & The Black Messiah, which won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor Daniel Kaluuya and Best Original Song, “Fight for You.” The film is an electrifying drama about an FBI informant who infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party in the ’60s and keeps tabs on activist Fred Hampton (Kaluuya).

In the nonfiction category, Rialto Cinemas screens My Octopus Teacher, winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Filmed over the course of eight years off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, My Octopus Teacher documents a unique human-animal friendship and shares evidence of animal intelligence never seen before.

In addition to these Oscar winners, Rialto Cinemas also screens Gunda, master director Victor Kossakowsky’s intimate documentary following a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows through black-and-white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack; as well as Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train, which became the most successful film at the Japanese box office earlier this year.

Rialto Cinemas is located at 6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol. The theater is adhering to all Covid-19 regulations, as well as expert-backed suggestions including mandatory masks, physical distancing by staggered showtimes and seating, increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols and more. For showtimes and reserved tickets, visit rialtocinemas.com/sebastopol.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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