Seduced by Sonoma | Festivals & Awards | Roger Ebert

Seduced by Sonoma | Festivals & Awards | Roger Ebert.


To repeat again, this festival (click above) was co-founded by Carolyn Stolman and me in 1997.  I tried to have Roger Ebert attend (after all, he had given my 1970 film “Derby” 4 stars) but he never was able to.  Now this woman from came this year, and the way she describes my home town is the way it is.

And this is the festival where “Derby Bay” had such a wonderful kick off.


Of course, we call it the Plaza instead of the square, but what the hell.

How many of you will I see this summer?


Jerry Seltzer

Baby, Derby, Sonoma explosion!

I am groggy but want to write about yesterday at the Sonoma Film Festival because I am sure I will lose memory of some of the magic.

Derby Baby screening. Photo by D.E.sign.

At 9 am Ana, Jim, and Jerry (Nicol) showed up at my house and cleaned and set up tables and started to work with the food……wonderful wines had been donated by Enterprise Vineyards (Phil Coturri), Highway 12 (Paul Giusto) and B.Wise wines (Allison).  And Sonoma Springs Ale by Darrel Smouse and other brews by neighbor Martin…..and the food, unbelievable and only added to by our Derby women as the arrived.

Amazing photo of Derby's best who visited Sonoma for the Derby Baby screening and time with Jerry. Photo by D.E.sign

And arrived they did, in droves…..The motorized cable car never could make it (her schedule was wrong) so we all got into cars and drove to the Plaza where people were waiting in front of the theater.  And our wonderful Derby women from Resurrection, Sonoma County, Sacred City, and some from Windy City (Val Capone) Gotham (Suzy Hotrod), South County (Taira), Fresno (Tengauge), Redding (Ophelia Balls), Granite City (Maine! – Angela Watson), London (I forgot your name, but she is in training with Sacred City) and zebras and more got into formation, and upon a hidden signal did the forbidden.

It is illegal to skate around the plaza (two blocks each way), but off they went in a disciplined line and pace, and they circled twice, came back to the theater, and completely illegally did a demo on the street in front of the theater. Literally dozens of cameras blazing, including coverage from our TV station, Sun TV, channel 27, which will be shown this week as well as streamed to Derby News Network for coverage.

Derby Baby screening. Photo by D.E.sign.

Then we saw “Derby Baby”.  It will make you cry, it will make you proud and have you say “yes, this it what I have been trying to tell you!”  Kudos to Ron Patrick, Robin Bond, and Dave Wruck who have devoted two years of their lives to produce a feature that shows their love and understanding of Roller Derby today.

Derby Baby Q&A. Photo by D.E.sign

And this was interesting to me:  the film audience – all three hundred of them – had sold out the showing in advance.  And after making my little presentation with our wonderful friend, Cheryl Jennings of ABC , I moved to the very back row and noted that virtually no one left the theater until the end of the film (average age of  festival film goers and subscribers:  55).  And I kept thinking, they won’t understand, it has no meaning to them, but it did!

Then there was a question and answer afterwards with Robin, Dave and Suzy Hotrod and Val Capone…..and then another wonderful thing:  Shadow, whose story is part of “Derby Baby”, has pursued skating and Derby because her father had been such a fan of the Bay Bombers (my team, my era) in the 70’s, and he was affected by agent orange in Vietnam and had died, but had seen his daughter skate!

And yesterday was actually her birthday…..and there was a drawing of Riedell products, and she won the last item, a $600 pair of their very best skates!

Derby Baby Screening, Sonoma. Photo by D.E.sign

Then we went back to my house where the crew had the best spread of food I have ever seen, many tables set up in the back yard, and we ate and drank and laughed and enjoyed each other and talked about the film with Robin and Dave and Suzy and Val and on and on for hours until, sadly, everyone had to leave except for the three from far away who stayed here last night…..and now they have left this morning and I am writing this and will sleep shortly.

There is such closeness in the Derby world… is hard to explain.  and Robin and the others have figured a way for all of you to see this film.  Keep checking on the “Derby Baby” site and there should be some posting soon.

Judi and I will be working with a number of you on ideas for “Seltzer Brand” which will be debuting shortly….it will be different!  And it will show our love for the continuation of my family’s game.

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all around the world and here in Sonoma

I check in the morning how many people are reading my post daily…..usually very few by this time, unless it is a brand new one, and the current one has been available for 5 days.

but this blew me away:  WordPress now shows you how many countries are represented in the current readers, and this morning it is 15…..of course  all of the usual suspects (US, Canada, Australia etc) but also Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Singapore, Philippines, and India where as far as I know there are no leagues currently.

The reach of all of us on media today is amazing.  And because of the reach hundreds will come from out of town the best small film festival in America this weekend, of course the Sonoma International Film festival.  123 films from everywhere over the next 5 days (April 11 through 15) in the beauty of California’s first official town (the bear flag was hoisted just across the street from the Sebastiani theater in 1846,  where “Derby Baby” will be showing on Saturday).

And 40 of the participating 60 skaters are able to attend courtesy of Niki “Deets” Hammond (skating name:Devilina Detail) who will be on hand to promote her wonderful board game:  Jammerup…..we played it, and I had bruises afterward from the hard skating action.

I have lived here almost 20 years, and having lived in Portland, Chicago, Santa Monica, Evanston, New York, Palo Alto, Atherton, Orlando, Miami to just name a few, it is really home to me.  Pleasantly casual, unlike our more fancy neighbors in Napa County up the road;  great fresh food, wonderful friends, and so easy to get around; the 8 places showing the films (of course, the Sebastiani is our showcase), the hotels, the great restaurants are all within a short walking distance.   And don’t forget the wineries:  over 600 in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino Counties alone.

You still have time to get here and join Val Capone from Chicago, Suzy Hotrod from New York, Ophelia Ballz from Redding, Sassy longlegs from Sacramento and the other 60 who will be on hand to skate before “Derby Baby” for all of our entertainment.  And John Waters is here as well as Christopher Lloyd, Shirley Bassey (“Goldfingah”) and some surprises.

Image by eduardtrag from

Then after the film I was foolish enough to invite all the derby people and Robin and Dave and others to come to my house for an after party.  I expect about 100 people.  And this is the week Judi is away, and I have friends but now am scrambling for food and drink.  The Giustos and Coturris are providing some wine, and I hope to get more…..we are working on the food.  If you are coming here, I do not object to your bringing something…..I have the place to hang, to party and whatever.  And I hope that festival director Kevin McNeely and MC and some of the other people who make it happen will come by…..I know the beautiful publicist Brooke will be here as well as Liam Maclem from CBS-TV,  a good friend.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, contact and buy your tickets….they have a 3 for 2 special:  pay $30 for two tickets and get a third one free, so you can see Derby Baby and two other films!.

Don’t forget the Methodist rule:  never go anywhere without a covered dish!  I better see you all this weekend in Sonoma.

And oh yes, in 1997 Carolyn Stolman and I started this festival with the intent of bringing something exciting to Sonoma, and boy has Kevin and his people taken it to a new level: now considered one of the best small film festivals in the country.


I’m getting excited again

…a lot of projects at one time. is about to become a reality.  Judi Flowers and some very bright people are about to take a different fix on Roller Derby and fashion……if you know me, you know you will hear about it until it is coming out your ears.

I got my Derby fix on Saturday with the wonderful Bay Area Derby Girls.  Can you imagine 2000 people standing in the rain to get into the small building under not the best conditions to scream their heads off?April 5 was  my father’s 109th birthday……I never intended to go into his business, it just happened.

I was interviewed by the Sonoma Index Tribune and you can see it on line talking about Derby Baby and the Sonoma film fest.

And this week is Derby Babyweek in Northern California!

Photo by Berkeley from

I never thought when I co-founded the Sonoma Film festival in 1997 that there would be a Roller Derby film in it.  And this one is created with such love (and every penny they have) by Robin Bond and David Wruck…..I have seen it.  you will be up nights thinking about it and,  if you are in Derby,  you will know that somebody got it right!

So here is what is happening:  Saturday April 14th at 1 about 60 Roller Girls from Northern California plus Suzy Hotrod and Val Capone will come to my house, get into uniforms and skates, and the Sebastiani motorized San Francisco cable car will take them to the Sebastiani theater where they will meet and greet Robin and Dave and the Mayor and hopefully John Waters and Christopher Lloyd and Shirley Bassey who will be here for the festival (more on that later) and all the attendees, and god knows what a flash mob like that will  do next.  Then we will all go in the theater for the 3 PM showing of Derby Baby.

We in Sonoma are so proud of our theater, and I am proud that the funds and volunteer efforts from our first two festivals (when I was chairman) were able to help restore the theater to its original 1933 glory.  After the movie, Robin and Dave and  Suzy will answer questions about the film from the audience.

Then those who are invited will motor to the Commissioner’s house for a little repast and taste of our famous wines.  Looks like about 80 or so will be here….a couple of wineries (Highway 12 and Phil Coturri’s 16600 private label Sirah) have donated, but I could use more Sonoma and Napa wine.

I hope many of you are planning to attend, go to, see the amazing lineup of 128 films in just 5 days (guess which one is selling the most tickets!) and see what probably the best small town in America is all about.  Kevin McNeely and his staff and all the volunteers and all of Sonoma will welcome you to the Wine Country and the wonderful restaurants…..and all of this within the walking distance of all the theaters.  Order your tickets now as it will be sold out soon.

Then it is over…..damn…..I wish I had a job that paid.

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