Friday, March 28, 2014

Seriously, come to Benicia Film Festival!

You would go to an Academy Award nominated film if it showed right here in Benicia, right?

What about a winner of the Audience Award at Sundance?  Or a film named New York Times Critics’ Pick?

But, no such thing ever happened in Benicia!  Until now that is!

Academy Award nominated, Sundance favorite, NYT Critics’ Pick documentary “The Invisible War” is slated to screen next Friday, April 4th, at our Veterans Memorial Hall as the opening of Benicia Film Festival.


So you oughta go.  Hang out with cool people; see a powerful film and have a cookie.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a “festival” if it ended there.  So it doesn’t.

Saturday - all day Saturday - films from across the spectrum will screen.
The morning begins with a tribute to our very own heavenly hamlet called “My Town.”  And don’t you just feel that way about Benicia?  I know I do. 

FYI ~ “My Town” is the work of local filmmaker David Manly who will be present for Q & A along with Joel Fallon, Benicia’s first Poet Laureate, who did the voice over for the film!  Big fun.

From there it’s VOENA – Voices of Eve 'N Angels.  This professional world class children's choir, based in Benicia, whose message of peace is dedicated to celebrating the diversity of human cultures through their performances of world music in over 20 different languages and countries around the world.

Yeah.  A film of their music and travels shows Saturday morning AND they will be there to sing, in person, for Festival attendees. 

I’m guessing they’ll sound angelic.

Rounding out Segment 1 of Saturday morning films is “The Heron and the Geisha,” a behind-the-curtain peek at strict Japanese Dance Grandmaster Yoshie Tachibana as she brings up young dancers in the mysterious world of classical arts in Japan. 

Extremely cool.

After lunch at one of the downtown restaurants that will offer special discounts to Festival attendees, come back to the Vets’ Hall for Segment 2, films by and about young people.

First onto the screen will be “The Mermaid Complex,” following the tribulations of Ariel, a talented 18-year-old in Brooklyn, who has almost everything going for her.  Regardless of your demographic, you’ll want to see this one!

“Just Because I Am” comes next with a humbling and inspiring look at LBGT young people as they work to create a performance on love, respect and tolerance while enduring homophobic reactions to their coming out.  Compelling stuff.

Then, a raucous collection of Student Shorts – films made by Benicia HS students under the tutelage of film instructor Matt O’Reilly.  Such talent!  A must see!

Segment 3 at 4:30PM is comprised solely of LUNAFEST.  This traveling self-contained mini film festival of award-winning short films by, for and about women is filled with stories of reflection, hope and humor.  LUNAFEST will screen in more than 150 cities this year in front of 25,000 people – some of whom live in Benicia!  

Finally, at  7:30PM, Saturday evening’s Segment 4 begins with “From Disgrace to Grace,” a documentary by local filmmaker Kenny Hall.  The story explores the role of one’s faith in the recovery process of pastor and addict Chuck Norman.  Life affirming!  And, it is complemented by a Q & A session with the filmmaker, Chuck Norman’s wife Gloria and a live performance by Jerome Harris from the soundtrack of the film.

Filmmakers John Tupper and Duncan Robson will be on hand to interact with the audience following the screening first of “On the Rise,” Tupper’s animated comedy about Zeke, a farmer with a quirky solution to global warming.

Robson’s bank of unique short films rounds out the evening with an experience guaranteed to make you smile at his singular style of filmmaking and perspective on everyday things.

Fun??  Yes!!  But wait – there’s more!

Follow us down to the Rellik for the music of Pure Honey and the best ambience in town.

You’ll wake up Sunday morning wanting more and two visual feasts await you beginning at 1PM at Benicia Library:  “Harvest” and “The Monks of Vina,” both about wine and both by local award-winning journalist John Beck.  Guess what?  Wine will be served and Beck will be on hand to talk with the audience!

Now that’s a Film Festival!

Tickets online at or at the door.