Photos Steph Rodriguez

The Sacramento Film & Music Festival – Opening Night

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011 – Crest Theatre, Sacramento

The Sacramento Film and Music Festival celebrated its 12th season beginning last Wednesday at the historic Crest Theatre and ending Sunday, Aug. 21. Patrons were entertained well into the evening with music and film screenings; plus, this year, an additional twist was provided by The Sacramento Bee’s Fashion Challenge to kick off the opening night events.

This was the first year the SFMF introduced SummerFest, with WinterFest taking place last January. Singer/songwriter Autumn Sky dressed appropriately for the evening’s festivities performing in a sparkling silver bolero, accompanied by her snazzy-dressed two-man band. Sky and her boys entertained film and music enthusiasts with her soothing yet powerful vocals while showcasing her acoustic guitar skills, stomping her feet as she strummed along to the music. Pizza Rock served and sliced complimentary pies for hungry guests, which paired well with the endless amounts of Sierra Nevada Summerfest brew that was served in the Crest’s mini bar. However, no one should ever have to pay $5.25 for a room-temperature beer–just saying.

Before the film screenings began, there was the expected sponsorship thank yous and unscripted microphone jibber-jabber, followed by a small awards ceremony in which Cecile Mouette Downs, co-founder and director of the Sacramento French Film Festival, was awarded the 2011 Film Arts Service Award. Downs previously worked for the Film Department of the French Embassy in New York City and last year received the Arts Executive of the Year Award from the Sacramento Arts and Business Council.

Directly following Downs’ achievement was the red carpet-inspired fashion challenge. Local designers put their sewing expertise to the test by creating garments made from a peculiar medium–newspaper. Project Runway, anyone? Models worked the catwalk, or stage for that matter, each woman getting into the character her garment demanded. Some women chose the stiff, robotic walk, while othwers channeled their inner Harajuku girl while wearing their print-heavy threads. The couture created from mere newspaper and a bit of fabric by all local designers was quite impressive. Some dresses were obviously stiff as if ironed flat and doused in starch, but there were some red carpet-worthy fashions that showed texture and color, and one designer even made shorts.

After the booming runway music was silenced and the models disappeared backstage, the evening took a more serious turn with the screening of Sé Merry Doyle’s feature documentary, Jimmy Murakami Non-Alien. Murakami, an award-winning animator, director and artist, was one of 18,000 Japanese Americans who were forced into the Northern California Tule Lake internment camp. The film showed Murakami’s deep anger for the government’s prejudice against Japanese Americans and documented his pilgrimage back to Tule Lake. The film was both powerful and moving, a must see. The SFMF continued into the weekend showing narrative features such as The Corridor and Charlie’s Closet, and ended the festival with international short films from Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and more.

Opening night at the SFMF ended the way any great evening celebrating the arts should, with an after party hosted at District 30, who let all from the festival in at no cost. But it wouldn’t be the SFMF without ending the four-day festivities with yet another huge after party hosted by Parlare Euro–which leads me to believe those who put in all the hard work to make these festivals possible know how to party, and they know how to do it right. I concur with their style. Cheers.