About the Sonoma Film Institute
The Sonoma Film Institute (SFI), located on the Sonoma State University campus, is the oldest film repertory organization in the North Bay Area. Since 1973, SFI has unspooled enough celluloid to reach the next galaxy. Each year, between August and May, SFI presents over 40 films. These screenings - ranging from silent cinema to the avant-garde, from contemporary American fare to films from the Third World - expand the educational opportunities to students, as well as providing cultural benefit to the campus and surrounding community.
SFI has a long history of offering the best of contemporary cinema to local audiences. During the 1970's, the works of New Wave German directors Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, and Wim Wenders were presented in their first Northern California screenings. American independent filmmaker John Sayles (PASSION FISH, LONE STAR) was first discovered by local film buffs in May, 1981, with the Bay Area premiere of THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN. And long before his recognition for SECRETS AND LIFES and TOPSY-TURVY, SFI presented Mike Leigh's HIGH HOPES (1988) and LIFE IS SWEET (1991).
SFI has hosted personal appearances by such Hollywood legends as Nicholas Ray (REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and JOHNNY GUITAR), and King Vidor (THE FOUNTAINHEAD and DUEL IN THE SUN) as well as veteran British film director Michael Powell (THE RED SHOES and I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING) and Academy Award winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker (RAGING BULL). SFI has also sponsored lectures by independent and avant-garde artists Les Blank, Laurel Chiten, Ernie Gehr, Allie Light and Irving Saraf. A mainstay of SFI's programming continues to be the classic American cinema - ranging from the 1924 anti-war masterpiece THE BIG PARADE, to Vincente Minnelli's glorious color musicals and melodramas of the 1950's - with stops in-between at Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles.
Under the School of Arts and Humanities, SFI's programming is tightly coordinated with Sonoma State University classes. In addition, films screened by SFI are commonly utilized by SSU instructors as required or recommended sources for their students.