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The Sacramento Film and Music Festival’s Winterfest will bring 31 films to the Crest Theatre over three days. The festival, now in its 12th year, is returning to its roots as a small affair after growing to as long as 10 days in the past.
The festival begins Jan. 15,
“This is truly indie film,” said festival Co-Director Tony Sheppard. “Most of the indie films you can see in movie theaters aren’t truly indie. These ones are.”
Winterfest is an all-genre, juried film festival with everything from a four-minute short film to feature-length works and documentaries.
“Most of these are things people will never have the chance to see in Sacramento again,” said Co-Director and founder Nathan Schemel. “They’re independent films people have mortgaged their houses to make, or maybe they were really high-quality senior projects in college.”
All films will be shown on the big screen at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., which can seat up to 975 people.
In the past, the festival has spanned as many as 10 days, but Sheppard said it got cumbersome and didn’t allow organizers to have the close contact with the filmmakers they strive for.
This year’s three-day event allows that, he said. The shorter event allows more interaction with the filmmakers.
He added that the festival “has a large diversity of programming, and there is something for everyone.”
New this year is the emphasis on social justice documentaries on Jan. 17 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“We have a reputation for bringing strong political documentaries,” Sheppard said. “We get a disproportionate number of them submitted to us, so we end up having some very strong content.”
One of the documentaries, “Sowing the Seeds of Justice,” has a local connection.
The film follows Cruz Reynoso, who was the first Hispanic justice on the California Supreme Court and is now a professor at the University of California, Davis.
“He was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown the first time around,” Sheppard said, “and we do expect that Justice Reynoso will at the screening.”
Another film with local connections is “Death or Taxes: The Sad Truth Aout our American Taxation System,” which documents the lives of people seemingly targeted by IRS agents.
“It was made by a Sacramento-based production company (SIMZ Productions), and it looks at the actions of rogue IRS agents who go after people with large back tax bills,” Sheppard said. “It doesn’t try to suggest that the IRS is evil, though.”
Fictional feature-length films are scheduled for the nights of Jan. 15 and 16.
“Boy Wonder” will show at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 and tells a story about a high-school senior who witnessed his mother’s murder at age 5 and has spent the intervening 12 years planning his vengeance.
“He ends up becoming a straight-A student by day and a vigilante by night,” Sheppard said. “It has some elements of comic book and graphic novel in it.”
The festival includes films from nine countries. The Jan. 16 evening feature comes from Italy.
“It’s called Febbre de Fieno, which means ‘hayfever,’ ” Sheppard said. “It’s a lighter, bubblier romantic comedy. It’s a fun, neat, well-done movie about a group of people who work in a store selling ’70s and ‘80s vintage memorabilia.”
The film is sponsored by Hot Italian, and Andrea Lepore, the restaurant’s creative director and development partner, said she is excited to be able to bring an Italian film to the festival this year.
“We like to be associated with modern Italy and support the local arts,” Lepore said. “We’re just excited that there’s a great film festival industry in Sacramento.”
Tickets are $10 per screening, and passes to the whole festival can be purchased for $30. Students can get discount passes to the whole program for $20.
Tickets can be purchased at the Crest Theatre box office or online at tickets.com, but Sheppard said discounts are only available at the theater.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Images one through three are stills from "Boy Wonder," "Sowing the Seeds of Justice" and"Febbre de Fieno." Image four by Brandon Darnell.