Tucked up in the bends of the Russian River sits an old Quonset building made of corrugated steel, mortar, and years of films. This is the Monte Rio Theater: a World War II era building that was recently bought by 25 friends who pooled their money to keep the local icon alive and showing. The theatre sits on a bluff overlooking the Russian River, and greets all visitors who visit Monte Rio, including our group, who came to be a part of the Food Farm and Film Festival sponsored by 18 Reasons.
In the field behind the Monte Rio Theater, the barbecues crackled and a makeshift bluegrass band played a collection of Johnny Cash songs. People curled up on picnic blankets and chatted and drank. Never having played together, the band laughed their way through a couple of songs and pulled a few volunteers up to sing the June Carter parts. For the evening’s main course, we had Josey Breads famous soda bread, grilled sausages, and a local greens salad. Next up for desert were “Brown-Eyed Suzis”, peanut butter cup cookies with sea salt and caramel. We happily washed down the cookies with cold white wine and slices of watermelon.
We ate our food and listened to the bluegrass and watched the sun fall behind the tree covered ridge which caused the tea lights to twinkle to life and a light fog start to seep into the valley. Extra layers were thrown on for a few last songs – “Jackson” and “Folsom Prison Blues” – then we went into the theater. The films were a collection of eclectic shorts centered around food, food politics, and food justice, with specific topics ranging from Sriracha production, to Josey Baker Bread, to beekeeping in Brooklyn. After the films, we walked out of the theater and into the dark night, where we grabbed another slice of watermelon for the walk home and sang “Walk the Line” in our best Johnny Cash deep, raspy voice.