The 36th annual Mill Valley Film Festival promises to arouse, provoke, excite, amuse and stimulate with scores of feature-length movies, documentaries and shorts from the U.S. and around the world. Besides film, there will be music, panels and afterparties throughout the 11-day festival that runs from Oct. 3 to to the 13th in venues throughout Marin County.
As usual, several directors and actors will be on hand to present their films and take Q&A from the audience.
Co-opening night films include Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” and Brian Percival’s “The Book Thief.” Percival will appear with Geoffry Rush and Sophie Nélisse, while Bruce Dern and Will Forte will preside over the Bay Area premier of “Nebraska.”
For screening, ticket and other information about the Mill Valley Film Festival, Go HERE.
Executive Director Mark Fishkin of the Mill Valley Film Festival led off Tuesday’s press conference at the Dolby Screening Room in San Francisco by declaring audiences want diversity from their movies – in genre, style, language and culture.
Don't they also want to see a blockbuster budget up on the screen? According to Fishkin, “They are looking for great films, whether they’re $200 million or they’re $2 million or $200,000. It’s really just about great storytelling.”
For 35 years, the MVFF has adhered to that approach. Just last year, the festival screened Oscar winners like “Life of Pi,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Argo,” the fifth year in a row the MVFF has presented the Best Picture Oscar winner. (Preceding “Argo” were “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”)
What’s that sound
Fishkin then introduced Dolby Senior Vice President Ioan Allen, who demoed the latest innovation in movie theater sound: Dolby Atmos.
The Atmos system goes well beyond the 7.1 format, which pretty much maxed out the sonic possibilities of 35 mm film. Digital cinema changes everything. Specific sounds can be isolated, channeled and moved at the filmmaker’s discretion to as many as 64 speakers – some mounted on the ceiling.
“A hemisphere of sound,” as Allen called it. “You might think this only makes sense for big loud bombastic science fiction space-war movies. In actual fact, it’s not, because this ability enables us to provide, I guess, a step closer to reality, to put you in a scene.”
The sound format is currently available in just a handful of local theaters, but that should change soon.
More MVFF Highlights
- On Tuesday, Oct. 8, Director John Wells will present one of the festival’s two Centerpiece films, “August: Osage County” starring Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Sam Sheppard and many others. The Q&A should be particularly lively for this one – as of this writing, Wells and playwright Tracey Letts are not in agreement with Weinstein execs about the film’s ending. What you see on Oct. 8 may not be what audiences will see when the film goes into limited release on Christmas Day.
- On Thursday, Oct. 10, actor and Thirty Seconds to Mars lead singer Jared Leto will take part in an onstage conversation. The evening also features the U.S. premiere of Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Dallas Buyers Club.”
- On Friday, Oct. 4th, the festival will present Costa-Garvas with a Special Tribute. Peter Coyote will interview the famed director in between clips of his films, including “Z” (1969), “State of Siege” (1972) and “Missing” (1982), among others. Following the interview will be the Bay Area premiere screening of his latest film, “Capital.”
- On Friday, Oct. 11, British director Steve McQueen and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor will be on hand for audience Q&A and to present “12 Year’s a Slave.”
- Also on Friday, October 11 at 2:30 p.m. at the CineArts @ Sequoia in Mill Valley, Bob Sarles and Christina Keating’s documentary "Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield" will premiere, followed by a tribute concert at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley at 8 p.m. that evening – advance concert tickets HERE. Special guests include Jimmy Vivino (Conan O’Brian bandleader) and Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag, Bob Dylan, Steven Stills), who together will lead an all-star band featuring guitarist Nick Gravenites. If you can’t wait until the 11th to see the movie, it will first hit the screen Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Rafael Film Center.
- On Sunday, October 13, Closing Night festivities will feature Ben Stiller, who will present “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which he directed and also appears in. Stiller will receive the Mill Valley Film Festival Award following the 5:00PM screening at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
For more information about films, showtimes, locations, panels and other events for this year’s MVFF, go to the Mill Valley Film Festival website: www.mvff.com.