The 36th Mill Valley Film Festival returns, from October 3 - 11, with 11 days of world class cinema, industry panels and Oscar® hopefuls. Every fall, thousands flock to Marin County to the internationally acclaimed festival to catch an early glimpse of some of the upcoming Academy Award® contenders while mingling with film aficionados, industry guests, and VIP filmmakers.
On Thursday, October 3rd, the festival will kick off in grand style with the Co-Opening night films NEBRASKA, from director Alexander Payne and a Special Presentation of Brian Percival’s THE BOOK THIEF. Bruce Dern and Will Forte will be in attendance for the Bay Area Premiere of NEBRASKA. Academy Award®-winner Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nélisse and Brian Percival will be in attendance for THE BOOK THIEF at the Century Cinema Corte Madera in Corte Madera, the new Mill Valley Film Festival Co-Opening night venue.
The Opening Night Gala at the Corte Madera Town Center will follow the Opening Night Screenings. From 9:30PM to Midnight, guests will enjoy delicious local cuisine and wine from Il Fornaio, Cantina, Balboa Cafe, Teacake, The Counter, Big Jim's BBQ, among many others while listening to James Henry-Hands on Fire, and DJ’s Richard Habib and Marija Dunn. Additionally on Opening Night, the Mill Valley Film Festival will launch an art exhibition curated by Carly Ivan Garcia and Justin Giarla of White Walls and Shooting Gallery and featuring stunning new works by cutting-edge contemporary artists. The exhibition will be open for view throughout the festival in the Mark Fishkin Room at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.
On Friday, October 4th, the Mill Valley Film Festival will present Academy Award®-winning director Costa-Gavras with a Special Tribute. The evening will start at 6:30PM at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael with an on-stage interview with Costa-Gavras featuring clips from his past work and moderated by Mill Valley actor/activist Peter Coyote. Following the interview will be the Bay Area Premiere of his latest film CAPITAL (LE CAPITAL).
Actor Geoffrey Rush will also be honored with a special Tribute on Saturday, October 5th. The evening will include an on-stage interview and feature clips from his past work. The program will begin at 9:15PM at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
On Tuesday, October 8th, the Mill Valley Film Festival will feature AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY in a Centerpiece/Spotlight program and honor director John Wells at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. The evening begins at 6:30PM with an on-stage interview.
Actor, and the band Thirty Seconds to Mars front man Jared Leto, will be honored with a Spotlight program on Thursday, October 10th at 6:30PM at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. The evening will feature an on-stage conversation and the U.S. Premiere of Jean-Marc Vallée’s DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.
Acclaimed British Filmmaker Steve McQueen and British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor will be in attendance on Friday, October 11th for Steve McQueen’s latest directorial effort, 12 YEARS A SLAVE. In a festival first, both director and lead actor will be recognized in this Spotlight program. The event will start at 6:30PM at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
Dakota Fanning will be honored with a Spotlight program on Saturday, October 12th at 6:30PM at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. An on stage conversation will be followed by the World Premiere of her new film EFFIE GRAY from director Richard Laxton.
For Closing Night, the Mill Valley Film Festival will honor Ben Stiller with the Mill Valley Film Festival Award on Sunday, October 13th at 5:00PM at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center. He will be on hand with his latest directorial effort THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY. Ben Stiller will introduce both the at 5:15PM and 5:30PM showings at the CineArts @ Sequoia in Mill Valley and will receive the Mill Valley Film Festival Award following the 5:00PM screening at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
Following the screenings, the festival will come to an end with the Closing Night Party at the Maple Lawn Estate at the Elks Lodge in San Rafael.
Music oriented films and events once again play an integral part of the festival atmosphere. This year they include the return of THE HI DE HO SHOW on Friday, October 4th at 9:00PM at the CineArts @ Sequoia in Mill Valley and the 2nd Annual Mill Valley ASCAP Music Café, a series of music showcases at the Sweetwater Music Hall, daily from October 4th to 6th, 1:00pm to 5:00pm. The Music Café will feature an exciting and dynamic assortment of composers, songwriters and artists from across the musical spectrum over the course of three days during the film festival’s first weekend. The West Coast Premiere of THIS AIN’T NO MOUSE MUSIC!, from co-directors Maureen Gosling (Oakland resident) and Chris Simon, on Tuesday, October 3rd at 6:00PM will be followed by a special concert to celebrate the premiere at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. On Thursday, October 10th at 8:00PM at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, songwriter, musician, and innovator Thomas Dolby will present the U.S. Premiere of his director debut THE INVISIBLE LIGHTHOUSE. For this special screening, Dolby will perform live in collaboration with music designer/supervisor and bassist Blake Leyh. Special guests include Multi-Grammy®-winning producer and musician Don Was (John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones), Academy Award®-nominated film composer Mark Isham (Once Upon a Time, Crash [TV & film]; The Secret Life of Bees), cellist, composer and indie artist-phenom Zoe Keating, Swing-Meister Dan Hicks, and three-time Grammy® winner, Emmy®-winning Producer and Musician, Narada Michael Walden.
Finally, on Friday, October 11th at 8:00PM at the CineArts @ Sequoia in Mill Valley, Bob Sarles and Christina Keating’s documentary SWEET BLUES: A FILM ABOUT MIKE BLOOMFIELD will premiere and be followed by a tribute concert at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley with special guests Jimmy Vivino (Conan O’Brian bandleader) and Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield, Bob Dylan, Steven Stills), who together will lead an all-star band featuring guitarist Nick Gravenites (Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield).
Each year the Mill Valley Film Festival highlights many local Bay Area filmmakers. This year several will be making their World Premiere at the festival. They include: THE ILLNESS AND THE ODYSSEY from San Francisco director Berry Minott; TOXIC HOT SEAT from co-directors Kirby Walker (San Francisco) and Jamie Redford (Fairfax); Narrated by Academy Award®-winner Sean Penn, THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT from Los Altos residents Dana Nachman and Don Hardy; and STANDING ON SACRED GROUND from Berkeley resident Christopher (Toby) McLeod.
Additional special guests include: Actor Andy Garcia and actress Vera Farmiga will be attendance for the Bay Area Premiere of AT MIDDLETON; actor Stephen Dorff will be on hand for a special screening on ZAYTOUN; actor Chris Lowell will present the World Premiere of his directorial debut BESIDE STILL WATERS with the whole cast in attendance; and acclaimed Swedish director Jan Troell will come to Mill Valley for a screening of his film THE LAST SENTENCE.
Additional selections in this years festival are: ALL IS LOST, starring Academy Award®-winner Robert Redford, from director J. C. Chandor; AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, based on the Pulitzer Prize Winning Play by Tracy Letts; Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR; MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, from director Justin Chadwick; THE PAST (LE PASSE), Winner of the Best Actress Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival; PHILOMENA, starring Academy Award®-winner Judi Dench and Steve Coogan; SWEETWATER from brothers Logan and Noah Miller; Roger Michell’s LE WEEK-END; and WHOOPI GOLDBERG PRESENTS MOMS MABLEY from director and Academy Award®-winner Whoopi Goldberg.
* A special post-MVFF presentation with director Kathryn Bigelow at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
Some films I saw:
Recent widower Max states, 'Fleeing one sadness by revisiting the scene of an old one doesn't work.' Well, no. It just adds to the misery, as The Sea aptly shows. After his wife's death, Max Morden (Ciarán Hinds) returns to the seaside resort town where he spent one summer so long ago. He even stays in the boarding house that once was the home of the wealthy and charmingly dysfunctional family to which he attached himself. The summer of his youth is a turning point in his life; the winter of his wife's death at the same shore may be more than he can bare. Hinds is devastating, Rufus Sewell monopolizes the screen whenever he appears, and Charlotte Rampling needs only to show up for her quiet, calm presence to be felt. It is a beautiful film, but, honestly, a real downer.\
Star-crossed lovers can get no closer than a stolen kiss from time to time due to bad timing, class structure and, well, attitude. Young, miller's son, Johannes has always loved the enchanting, rich Victoria, and she reciprocates, but as time passes, their paths diverge. Beautiful Swedish countryside backgrounds add to the romantic, melancholy ambiance of this Victorian doomed romance.
Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods
This is a goofy, fun, live-action Viking adventure in which a young boy takes charge of his tribe's clumsy warriors to save his kidnapped father and retrieve the God's treasure. Dubbed for children's easy listening. High production values and special effects, so visually very entertaining as well.
To recap this extensive and extravagant event:
Films: 152 (88 features, 64 shorts) from more than 50 countries, including 12 world premieres.
Opening-night films: Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte; Brian Percival's "The Book Thief," starring Geoffrey Rush.
Opening-night party: Oct. 3 at Town Center Corte Madera.
Closing-night film: Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."
Closing-night party: Oct. 13, Maple Lawn Estate at the Elks Lodge, San Rafael.
Tributes/spotlights: Geoffrey Rush, Ben Stiller, director Costa-Gavras, actress Dakota Fanning, actor Jared Leto, director Steve McQueen, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Other appearances include: Sean Penn ("The Human Experiment"), Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia ("Middleton").
Live music: Thomas Dolby (Oct. 10), tribute to Mike Bloomfield (Oct. 11), concert in celebration of the Bay Area-produced film "This Ain't No Mouse Music!" (Oct. 8).
Tickets/information: www.mvff.com; (877) 874-6833.