A different kind of film festival.


Woke up with the same sign-goes-up-anxiety as I have felt for the last 12 years. Even though there’s only 6 letters in SONOMA, I’m always worried that something might go wrong (students don’t show up, the letters break after drunk tourists try to jump through them, the rain uncovers the Ukranianian flag colors which we painted over). And after COVID, things going wrong is the new normal and Spring Break just ended and there’s the personal problems (like you don’t have them) and that year I went to 27 movies seems like a lifetime ago.


But, change is good and we have to learn to play through. So what if there’s a madman killing innocent people in Ukraine, so what if there’s microplastics in the snow, so what if my students are more unfocused and disconnected than I’ve ever seen in 23 years in the classroom, so what if my PG and E bill is twice what it was last year and so what if Sonoma is rapidly losing its middle class. There’s a party starting and I am the official Monday kick off committee.


Unless I’m not. Unless I decided to tantrum and break up with the film festival because I am underappreciated and that angry lady at Andrews Hall didn’t let me collect the donation box last year because she thought I would steal the money and so what if all the donation money was given to Peter Hansen’s SVHS program instead of the usual 50-50 split with Creekside. And so what if Pio made a great movie last year titled SONOMAWOOD but containing zero information about SONOMAWOOD.


Can I get you a little whine with that cheese Walt?


I put it to the students in art class and got back a lethargic, “Yeah, why not” when I asked if they wanted to build the sign again this year.



So Monday morning I’m off to the garage for the sledge and an axe and my Mikita screwdriver and the measuring tools and 18 construction stakes and a 6-foot ladder sticking out of my trusty black chariot which will soon haul six 10-foot letters down Broadway, hazards on, hoping I make the plaza before the 5-0 makes me.


But before that wild ride there’s school to be taught, Art and Algebra and Geometry and Advisory which all go as expected after 9 days of freedom because this is the first day back from Spring Break and the week before break was not very settled and classes are huge and what the hell am I doing teaching Algebra and Geometry anyway?


But I survive as I always do, and I’m even able to do a lesson called, “Who Supports You” where students paint on the supports for the SONOMA sign (Clever) and then their answers live in the front of the plaza for 7 days.


Cause, it’s about connection, right? Not about who did what and what’s different and you should have been here last year. It’s about now, it’s always about now because that’s where we all live. It’s about the films and the parties-yes, even the Gay-LA-Disco party- and fun and seeing SIFF friends (great people who I see once a year even though they probably live in town).


Are there questions? Heck yes, not like whether Jeff Bundschu and Danny Elfman are the same person or when are the Mattsons going to level all their properties in town to build a giant landing pad for the Scientology aliens. No, real questions like how will movies survive when people become cyborgs living in their meta worlds (RIP Sonoma Prime Cinemas)? Who will be the next great storytellers to a generation living with AI and chatbots?


But the sign goes up, I get big encouragement from people passing on Broadway, Jill scores my passes (what, you think I do this all for the kids?!?) and by 4:00 I’m back home with my personal issues, anxiety lowered, marking which movies look interesting and excited that SIFF 2023 is here.





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