Twenty-Five Years! One of the best on my list. I’ve been there and you can’t beat the hospitality that comes along with top-notch programming, in California wine country. Steve Shor has the magic touch as program director for the Sonoma International Film Festival with 120 films from 35 countries, chefs preparing food, and sommeliers pouring the wine. What more can you ask for?
Our conversation touches on subjects from the gems that Steve finds like The Stork Man, a Croatian man nurses and injured stork, makes a nest on his roof for the stork to return to for 23 years. Food-centric films remind us of the Chefs of the World and their enormous humanitarian efforts feeding people during natural disasters, currently on the border of Poland feeding thousands of people a day during the Russian invasion and war on Ukraine.
Steve has over 40 years of industry experience in studio, production, and management positions including ten years at Columbia/Tristar Pictures. Currently, an independent producer and is program director for Long Beach International Film Festival and industry liaison for the Newport Beach Film Festival. Before that he programmed for the AFI Fest, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, and the Jackson Hole Film Festival. He knows how to make it work.
He tells me he programs for his audience not for his ego. The filmmakers get an opportunity to meet A-list industry players who are on the jury, celebrities like Jacqueline Bisset, Jacque Pepin, and Karen Allen mingle with the filmgoers under the hospitality tent where there are no red carpets or paparazzi around, just great food, great wine, great films. We talk about what he looks for in a film and how to integrate an event that complements a true film festival experience. Steve tells me that with an emphasis on hospitality in wine country, he is sure that everyone will find and fall into a beautiful movie. That’s important to him and I couldn’t agree with him more.
It’s interesting that The Stork Man was one of several movies he talked about. The stork is considered to be the national bird of Ukraine. It’s a symbol of parental love, family welfare, and patriotism. The stork is believed to be a sacred bird, its nest, built on the roof of the house, brings fortune and happiness to its hosts. These are all things that Steve Shor brings to the Sonoma International Film Festival.
Steve, may the stork be with you.