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Sonoma International Film Festival


The Sonoma International Film Festival is considerd one of the nation's top ten destination film festivals.  All seven screning venues are withinh walking distance of the historic Sonoma Plaza.  This is one of the most filmmaker-friendly festivals where accommdations are provided thoughout your festival expderience and industry networking leads to distribution.  Enjoy a remarkable five day, stimulating festival in the midst of Sonoma wine country.  We do celebrate the very best in film, food & wine!

Set amidst the unparalleled beauty of the Sonoma Valley wine country, the Annual Sonoma International Film Festival welcomes filmakers and film lovers in April every year to a sun-drenched, luxurious extended weekend, pairing great food, fine wine and more than 100 new independent films from around the world. Film presentations at a variety of venues including the historic Sebastiani Theater on the Sonoma Town Plaza will include: world cinema, feature length narratives, documentaries, shorts and a student film program.


Interview with Italian Director Gabriele Fabbro on Début Feature Film "The Grand Bolero" @ 2022 SIFF Summer Fest

Interview with Italian Director Gabriele Fabbro on Début Feature Film "The Grand Bolero" (2021) @ SIFF Summer Fest Interview with Italian Director Gabriele Fabbro on Début Feature Film "The Grand Bolero" (2021) @ SIFF Summer Fest

Italian director Gabriele Fabbro’s début fictional feature film "The Grand Bolero" (2021) premiered at the 2021 Austin Film Festival and most recently at the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) Summer Fest.

Gabriele was born in 1996 in Milan, Italy. He's a film director with a BFA degree in Filmmaking from the New York Film Academy. Since 2011, he has written, directed and produced over thirty productions including features, short films, music videos and commercials. Among his most recent works, he directed the music video "If You Run (2020)" for Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). His short film "8 (2019)" screened at the 76 Venice Film Festival.


In an interview with Gabriele after SIFF Summer Festival, here is what he had to say:

Can you tell us about your path to become a filmmaker? What has been your biggest challenge/s and your biggest reward/s thus far?

GABRIELE: Making movies has been my dream since I was a kid. I started making videos for YouTube in 2008, nothing professional of course but that’s when I started to learn the basics to write, shoot and edit. In high school I was lucky to be guided by an amazing teacher (Natalia Mazzoleni) who expanded my film culture by showing me all the classic old movies that changed cinema history. But it was really at the New York Film Academy where I refined my directing craft. Thanks to all the hands-on projects we had to do, I was able to explore different techniques that improved my “tool palette”. After school I started directing short contents (music videos and commercials). My biggest challenge has been the transition from short form to feature length projects. It’s always hard to pitch yourself as a feature film director if you never directed one. Now that I directed two features, I can finally see people interested in my craft and the stories I want to tell. The biggest reward so far is that I was given the opportunity to tell a personal story with my first fictional film “The Grand Bolero” and that I had complete freedom to tell it the way I wanted.


You are a director, writer, producer and DoP. Do you believe it is necessary to have multiple talents to be a filmmaker these days?

GABRIELE: Absolutely, directing movies is a slow process. It takes years to get the right financing to enter production. So, knowing different skills covers your rent while you pitch and prepare your next features. Plus, I love all aspects of filmmaking. It really expands your cinematic toolbox. There’s not a single moment while I write that I’m not thinking about the editing or how the cinematography is going to look. I learned so much while editing or DP-ing other filmmakers' projects. All these skills help you to tell your stories better.


Can you tell us about some of your previous films? Do you have a film that you are most proud of?

GABRIELE: I love all my projects. I’m sure every filmmaker will answer the same. It’s like asking a parent, which son do you like the most? I can answer this way though… I can tell you which set I loved the most. So far “8” (2019) and “The Grand Bolero” (2021) has been my favorite set experiences. For different reasons. “8” was my thesis film at NYFA so I made it with my classmates. We knew each other for three years so it felt like shooting with your family. With “The Grand Bolero” I didn’t work with anyone before, but everyone was a revelation to me. I met some of the most extraordinary and talented people on that set. Francesco Piazza, our amazing sound guy was making foleys on set, Serena Viganò, our production designer was doing wardrobe, continuity and helping make-up at the same time. Our DP Jessica La Malfa was using wheelchairs, tapes, and all kinds of what we call “shitty rigs” to get the best camera work possible. Lidia and Ludovica were constantly pushing themselves to do better and were constantly thinking about lines to cut out to improve the script. There was so much shared passion on that set. I was fortunate to work with them.


Can you tell us about your film "The Grand Bolero" without revealing too much about it?

GABRIELE: “The Grand Bolero” is a romantic thriller set and filmed during the lockdown for covid-19 in a decadent church in northern Italy. It’s a psychological exploration of the pipe organ tuner Roxanne, a middle aged cold and distant woman who battles to suppress her obsession with her new assistant Lucia, a young and mute girl who plays the organ masterfully.


What inspired you to tell this story? 

GABRIELE: During the pandemic I met an organ repairer who lived inside church organs to fix them. He was a nomad! He didn’t have a house. The organs were his home. He had such an obsessive love for this beautiful instrument. I wanted to explore this deep obsession so in the writing process Ydalie Turk (co-writer) and I married that character with our deep obsession with classical music.


How did you film this during the pandemic? And can you tell us about the casting?

GABRIELE: It was so strange because we shot during the lockdown, so nobody was around and everyone was so afraid of getting “too close” to each other. We had to follow all the covid related regulations (getting tested, respect distance, etc). The casting was also an interesting process. Because of the pandemic we only did video tapes. We reached out to Lidia on Instagram after seeing one of her films. After watching her tape, we didn’t have doubts. She was Roxanne! The casting for Lucia was a little trickier. Lidia suggested Ludovica audition for the film. Once we edited the video tapes together, Lidia and Ludovica were the only pair that had a tense and intriguing chemistry. So, we went for them!


Is the organ a main character in the film? 

GABRIELE: Yes! Our composers worked hard to make sure that the organ would talk to the audience. Take the moment where Roxanne falls for Lucia while she plays at the “green organ”. In that scene, Roxanne is falling for her, but the music gets more and more sinister and dark, almost like the organ is yelling to Roxanne to fall in love.


Can you tell us about your recent experience at SIFF Summer fest? 

GABRIELE: It was my first time at SIFF. Through the years I heard a lot of great things about SIFF from other filmmakers, so I was really excited to finally come to Sonoma to check out the festival and I have to say… it met the standards. I received a warm welcome from Steve Shor, Ginny Krieger and everyone working at SIFF. The screening was packed and full of film lovers. I can’t wait to be back. I had a lot of fun, lot of great wine-food and met a lot of exquisite people!


How have people reacted to the film thus far?

GABRIELE: My greatest reward about this film is that it makes people eager to discover more about pipe organs. That was my intention: to make other people fall in love with the instrument and the organists that take care of these giant beasts. Also, I hope I don’t sound too pretentious but, I hope that with this film I reminded people where cinema came from. Films were first conceived as silent, where the only soundtrack was made live with pianos or organs. That type of cinema to me it’s still the purest and most universal type of storytelling.


What will you be working on next?

GABRIELE: I’m writing my next features a soaring and thrilling adventure about truffle hunting in Piedmont, Italy. We’re currently raising funds for that one and I have another short to direct in LA, also in the process of fundraising.


Interview with Italian Director Gabriele Fabbro on Début Feature Film "The Grand Bolero" (2021) @ SIFF Summer Fest

Interview with Italian Director Gabriele Fabbro on Début Feature Film "The Grand Bolero" (2021) @ SIFF Summer Fest

Interview with Italian Director Gabriele Fabbro on Début Feature Film "The Grand Bolero" (2021) @ SIFF Summer Fest


Interview by Vanessa McMahon

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