Starting this Thursday, filmmakers from around the country (and a few from overseas) will gather in Sebastopol for the 7th annual Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.
Although not nearly as well known as the glitterati-studded Sonoma Film Festival, Sebastopol’s fest will feature an impressive lineup of 60 documentaries, plus workshops where aspiring filmmakers can pitch their script and get feedback.
The festival runs through Sunday and is put on by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.
Documentaries include Ken Burns’ “Central Park Five”, about five Black and Hispanic teenagers wrongly accused of a savage beating, as well as works from less well-known filmmakers like Bay Area’s Theo Rigby, who will show three short documentaries that are part of his Immigrant Nation series and then host a discussion where the audience can share their own immigration story.
“The Sebastopol Center for the Arts honors artists by showing their work and the film festival is another way of doing that,” said program director Jason Perdue.
Another filmmaker screening her film this weekend is Juliet Snowden, an acclaimed screenwriter behind movies such as “Knowing,” starring Nicholas Cage and “The Possession,” with Kyra Sedgwick.
“Hollywood Hair” tells the story of a salon owner in Hollywood who takes prostitutes, runaways and other misfits under his wing. The film is a 14-year-old labor of love for Snowden who got to know the owner after patronizing the salon for years while struggling to make a name for herself in the industry.
“I arrived in LA not knowing a soul, so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I stumbled upon this place,” Snowden said, adding that the $3 haircuts were what initially drew her in. “I always felt so much warmth there, so I continued to go back…and the more time I spent there, the more I realized I wanted to make a film.”
Other interesting sounding documentaries include “Betting the Farm,” about a group of Maine dairy farmers who are dropped by their national milk company and decide to form a cooperative in order to save their farms, and “The Invisible Men,” an Israeli film about Palestinian gays hiding in Tel Aviv.
The festival opens Thursday with a screening of “La Source,” a story about a Haitian janitor living in the U.S. who returns to his country following the 2010 earthquake to bring clean water to his village.
“It’s a universal message that we thought would appeal to largest group of people,” said Perdue, the festival program director. “It’s a celebration of the incredible amount of good one person can do if they put their mind to it and to us typifies the perfect opening night film.”
Click here to check out all the offerings and purchase tickets for the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.