Films

We are a wine and film festival. That is not to say that we show films about wine. Rather, our festival will show films on a wide array of topics. Well, we might show a film or two about wine but only insofar as it furthers wine culture and the appreciation of wine. Most of our films, though, are great stories, either because they are thought-provoking or reminiscent or humorous. We look forward to sharing these great stories with you!

We want to ensure that you see quality, high-grade films at our festival. Many of the films being shown this year have won awards at other film festivals in Europe and worldwide or were selected to be shown at those festivals. Other films we are presenting this year are being premiered at our festival, never having been shown at other film festivals. Our panel of screeners comes from different age groups and backgrounds across the United States primarily. After taking a critical look at the films, our panel recommended them! 

It is the first week of April 1945. The Americans are bombarding Okinawa and have landed in their tens of thousands. But on a small island remote from the terrors of battle, 16-year-old Hiromi (Lisa Oda) comes upon a cave where American deserter Bob (Brandon McClelland) has appeared. Bob is taken in by Japanese deserter Takayasu (Shinnosuke Mitsushima). Hiromi decides to look after the two men, knowing that it is extremely dangerous. Soon after, Takayasu's elder brother Hajime (Takahiro Miura) appears in the cave. Hajime, a fanatic soldier, vows to kill his brother, his enemy Bob and the "traitor" Hiromi once he recovers from his wounds. Tensions mount to what appears to be an inevitable climax of violence and murder. - We now find ourselves in 2016 in Tokyo, where a female student, Shiho (Riho Yoshioka) is handed a diary written by Hiromi. But the diary leaves some questions unanswered. Shiho's curiosity leads her to the startling truth of what really happened to the three men in the cave - and the fate of the young girl, Hiromi.

drama
1h 50m
directed by Roger Pulvers
U.S. premiere

Star Sand

A wordless short comedy that explores an example of the only constant in our universe: change.

The story of a man immersed in a life of habit and routine who, though lonely to the outside eye, seems content to live his stark existence. One morning he awakes to discover an unexplained change in his routine, in his apartment; in his life!

short
14m
directed by Voki Kalfayan, Mike Thompson, AD
award-winning/shown at other film festivals

A Man Wakes Up

This animated documentary is the story of the Velvet Underground's disastrous first public performance. While on stage for merely 20 minutes, The Velvet Underground performed three songs: 'There She Goes', 'Venus in Furs', and 'Heroin'. The Summit High School audience responded with, as a band member recalled in 1983, a 'murmur of surprise that greeted the appearance' that 'increased to a roar of disbelief as the band started to play' which'swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment...' Half the audience walked out

animation, documentary
8m
directed by Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli
award-winning/shown at other film festivals

Velvet Underground

LITTLE MILO is a powerful and emotional drama-comedy about a young man and his controversial choices.

THE ERA: Starting from the date of June 16, 2015 to November 8, 2016, the American political landscape has had more heartbreak and divisions in today’s world of differences. This film reflects a generation of conflicts represented by its dynamic characters.

short
28m
directed by Drago Lazetich
award-winning/shown at other film festivals

Little Milo

Antonio Arrighi, winemaker of the Island of Elba, has decided to try an experiment of those that if he succeeded, could enter into history. Repeat the preparatory technique for the withering of the ansonic, used by the Greeks of the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, two thousand five hundred years ago. The ansonica, a vine native to Greece, is today one of the most marketed wines on the island of Elba, but in Arrighi's experiment there is (at least for now) nothing commercial. The technique consisted in holding a quantity of grapes in the sea for a few days, in special containers, for the time necessary for the salt action of the sea water to eliminate the patina of the bloom, the waxy veil that protects the grapes. This ritual of the ancient Greeks seems to have been aimed at accelerating the time of dehydration of the grapes at the time of withering, thus preserving in the berries superior aromas and organoleptic qualities compared to a normal drying.

documentary
14m
directed by Stefano Muti
award-winning/shown at another film festival

Vinum Insulae

In a cinematic letter to his son, native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu explores the modern dilemma of their people, descendants of the ancient statue builders, as they face the consequences of their rapidly developing home.

documentary
1h 15m
directed by Sergio M. Rapu
shown at another film festival
at our festival, North American premiere

Eating Up Easter

Tiny Vineyards is about the incredible sub-culture of backyard vineyards and home winemaking that exists beneath the huge commercial wine making schemes of Northern California. The film follows a dozen amateur viticulturists in the wine-soaked town of Sonoma through an entire year of growing grapes and making wine. it's a season fraught with disaster and accented with achievement. Some of these home winemakers make wine rivaling the best commercial vintages, and some… not so much!

This is a perfect film to pair with a culinary or wine tasting event during a festival. It celebrates a simpler, sustainable, agrarian lifestyle — home winemaking being the ultimate expression of the slow food movement.

documentary
1h 32m
directed by Joseph Daniel
award-winning/shown at another film festival

Tiny Vineyards

Lycanthropy is a dark investigative thriller short film, which follows detectives Mark Kessler and John Mills, as they search for a missing girl. The story starts in the middle of a crime investigation. We meet the detectives as they wait to search the residence of a key suspect, Mr. Johnson. However, Johnson does not cooperate and as the police don't find any hard evidence, the case is at a standstill.

Kessler is troubled, both in his private and his public life. His vocation has taken a toll and over the years, he lost his family. Yet, he struggles, helpless in the never-ending, unrelenting battle against daily evil. He needs this case, a purpose, and ends up making a decision that changes everything. Chasing through London’s rough underbelly, Kessler has his macabre worldview confirmed and chooses between law and justice, between his partner and his ethos.

In the end, it becomes difficult to tell who the real villain is...

short
16m
directed by Alexander Black
award-winning/shown at other film festivals

Lycanthropy

At the turn of the century, a lady constantly badgers her husband for sex until things get out of hand...

short
5m
directed by Shant Hamassian
award-winning/shown at other film festivals

Proper British Sex

A man in the twilight of his life embarks on an emotional journey to seek out the home and family he had left in his youth.

short
12m
directed by Linda Bhreathnach
award-winning/shown at other film festivals

Native

A young boy, Anselmo, faces his fears of bullies and his drunk abusive father. He escapes reality by reading his comic book "The Mighty Blitz" and learns to stand up for himself with the help of his mother.

drama, fantasy
15m
directed by Arturo Vargas
shown at other film festivals

Rescued (Rescatado)

Gus is receiving clues from the universe that lead him to the secret terrifying cave of Mother Goose. Hope he knows his nursery rhymes.

short - comedy, horror
8m
directed by Mike Thompson & Jerry Thompson
at our festival, US premiere

Six Geese a Slaying

The Circus Jerks is a trio of absurd comic shorts celebrating the joys of tension and antipathy.

“Honey! I’m Home!” finds a husband and wife at a catastrophic—and gastronomic—crossroads in their marriage. “The Getaway” follows two bank robbers on the run from the fuzz, but things take an existential turn. “Bundle of Joy” features a mother-to-be and her overreaching obstetrician; whether it’s a boy or a girl is the least of their worries.

Harkening back to vaudeville, film noir, slapstick and clowning, these Jerks will warm your heart with the gentle touch of a blowtorch.

short
5m
directed by Jimmy Slonina

The Circus Jerks

A family struggles to deal with past traumas through new seasons of life while the line between their roles as children and parents continue to blur.

short
44m
directed by John Dayo-Aliya
at our festival, West Coast premiere

Milkweed

"When you've never had a home, you never know where you'll find one."
16 year-old Emma and her just-paroled mom are en route to a Native American drug addiction treatment center in Oregon’s remote high desert when they encounter a young rancher feeding his cows.

short
6m
directed by Chris A Crowley

Town Girl

Ben is a 10 year old boy like any other. Although he likes to spend most of his spare time wrapped up in the fictional world of Gun Metal Max, his favorite comic book hero. To Ben, Gun Metal Max is the greatest hero there is. Strong, brave and the defender of light! It’s no wonder Ben would much rather recreate his hero’s adventures in his play room…

Always at his side is his Gun Metal Max action figure. Where Ben goes, he goes. Together they defend Beacon City, the last human stronghold against the unstoppable Shadow. Creatures from another dimension with a taste for destruction, jumping between dimensions and leaving them in darkness. Nothing can stop them, no known weapon can defeat them. Unless Gun Metal Max has simply been looking in the wrong place?

What may seem like a fun and exciting story, may be more real than Ben could possibly imagine. For our world is but one within countless other dimensions, more than anyone could even comprehend. Each with their own stories and possibilities. In our world, Gun Metal Max is merely a fictional comic book hero. But in a distant dimension, his story is very real…

Fueled by his mission to defeat the unstoppable Shadow and find a weapon to finally defeat them, Gun Metal Max uses his power to jump between dimensions which finds himself in our world. But he needs help, the Shadow has followed him and will stop at nothing to prevent him from finding the weapon. By chance, Gun Metal Max meets Ben, whom he takes under his wing to help find the weapon and stop the unstoppable Shadow once and for all…

Featuring music from renowned synthwave artist 'Timecop1983' and original score by lead singer of rock band 'As It Is', Patty Walters...

short
11m
directed by Jonathan Brooks

Gun Metal Max