Monday, 2:00 and I’m having my own one-man parade through downtown Sonoma. I have a four-foot emerald birthday cake strapped to the top of my truck and I’m returning it from SIFF VILLAGE to Creekside, I like the attention so I do an extra victory lap around the plaza. We know about my exhibitionist tendencies:


“Celebrate life!” I scream to the curious masses in front of the Swiss Hotel. Keep the tourists entertained, I think to myself, that’s how I roll.


It was a tough film festival, not because of the 46 projects Creekside made, or because of the hurricane-like winds which knocked over the SIFF VILLAGE sign twice, or because I took a hard shot to the arm trying to catch the transvestite that jumped out of the 4-foot cake my students made for Thursday’s Emerald Party (no, I didn’t make that up) or because some idiot all hopped up on Ketamine decided to trash the giant D in SONOMAWOOD Saturday night (I might have made the Ketamine part up). No, the 20th film festival was tough because it’s hard to play through tragedy.


The deaths of Brandon and Cody were lingering over Sonoma like a thick fog. After finishing setting up the SONOMAWOOD sign on Wednesday I drove up Broadway and just started balling. Responsibilities were mostly done and I could breathe a little easier for the first time in weeks but I couldn’t help thinking about my own precious kids and how I just don’t know if I could handle such tragedy. Even writing these words gets me choked up. For many students it is their first experience with death and they need us to help them deal.


Life goes on and so did the festival. Peter Hansen decided rightly to play through and show the student films which were outstanding as always. Peter knows how to do education, teach an elective that is not only well-funded but loved by students. Then live in a community with an international film festival, work incredibly hard at what you do and- blam- you too can become a treasured artist.


A turtle inspired me with a straw up its nose (“Straws”), and a free spirit who walks the length of California (“Mule: Living on the outside”) but mostly by Barb Stegemann (“Perfume Wars”) who not only touched many but is also planning on coming to my classroom the next time she is in the Bay Area. I am always searching for JO JO at the festival a movie or person that inspires and sparks that little thing inside us to act.


I started Social Responsibility class Monday morning by writing, “There’s something that should be done about that,” on the board in front of class. It is from the movie, “The Journey is the Destination” a title, which I have used many times in my life but a movie I unfortunately, walked out of (pretentious and cocky main character turned me off). Reaction to the line was as expected: Homelessness, Trump, Immigration, Poverty, Trump, Apathy, Trump and Trump. Hmmmm.



I love movies, watch them whenever I can and although my taste is a little different than most (my top three of last year: “Captain Fantastic” then “Patterson” then a tie between “Deadpool” and “Manchester by the Sea”) I have a 10 minute policy on film festival movies, if I’m not fully engaged after 10 minutes, I’m out. This year I fled 7 of 17 movies I attended (including 2 which won awards which says something), about average for the festival.


“Louise by the Shore” was playing at the Sebastiani, an animated full-length feature, usually not my bag, but the Zen-like watercolors and overall calming tone of the movie put my wife and I in the best mood of the festival.


Movies are art and like wine one person should not evaluate them. Your palette is your palette and if you like something a little different than others, that’s good. My favorite movie of all time is “The World According to Garp” which few have seen but had a powerful influence on my life. Does that make it the greatest movie of all time, probably not.


As a proud FOK (Friend of Kevin) I borrow the inspiring movies from the festival and work them into my curriculum. “Far From Home” “The Moped Diaries” “Bringing it Home” “Project Censored” even, “Taking my Parents to Burning Man”, I can squeeze inspiration out of the strangest places. If I really love a movie I schedule a free screening at the Sebastiani. This happens because I am also a FOR (Friend of Roger) and I live in an amazingly supportive town.


This year, Laura Stanfield grabbed me while waiting in line at the Sebastaini Saturday night, “Walt, Sonoma has to start laughing again!” she said in her typical monstrously enthusiastic voice, “We have to show “Unleashed” to help us as a community start getting over the sadness.”


I couldn’t agree more and so on Monday April 17 there will be a showing of “Unleashed” at the Sebastiani at 1:00. It is free for students and a suggested $10.00 donation for adults.


I turn my cake-truck up Broadway and smile as I think about how amazing it is to live in a community like Sonoma, but also wondering what I can do to help get us laughing again.