The eighth annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) returns Nov. 7-11 to showcase new independent films, along with food and wine at special events, including the Festival Gala, VIP receptions and Vintner Circle dinners.
The 10 screening venues throughout the valley include the Cameo Cinema, Charles Krug Winery, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, JaM Cellars Ballroom at the Margrit Mondavi Theatre, Lincoln Theater, Native Sons, Uptown Theatre, and new this year The Archer Hotel Napa, Las Alcobas Napa Valley and the Drive-In at the Calistoga Fairgrounds. New this year is a series of filmmaker-chef collaborative demonstrations at Feast it Forward in Napa.
Laurence Fishburne (“The Matrix,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) will receive this year’s Charles Krug “Legendary Actor” honor at this year’s Celebrity Tributes program on Nov. 8 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Additional honorees will be announced in the coming weeks.
NVFF will also be honoring the alumni of The Groundlings Theatre and School with the Miner Family Winery “Legacy Ensemble” award on Friday, Nov. 9. Accepting on behalf of The Groundlings are Stephanie Courtney (Progressive Insurance’s Flo character), Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live, “Single Parents”), Laraine Newman (Saturday Night Live, “Coneheads”), Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live, “Scary Movie”) and Julia Sweeney (Saturday Night Live, “It’s Pat”).
Later that evening, Geena Davis (“Thelma & Louise,” “A League of Their Own”) will be honored with the Davis Estates “Visionary Tribute” following a screening of the documentary “This Changes Everything.”
The second annual Rising Star Showcase presented by Materra/Cunat Family Vineyards on Nov. 10 will honor Taissa Farmiga (“American Horror Story,” “The Nun”), Billy Magnussen (“Maniac,” “Game Night”), Camila Mendes (“Riverdale,” “The New Romantic”), Rosa Salazar (“Alita: Battle Angel,” “Maze Runner: The Death Cure”), Tye Sheridan (“Ready Player One,” “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”) and Alexandra Shipp (“Love, Simon,”” X-Men: Dark Phoenix”).
NVFF will kick off with their Sneak Preview Night on Nov. 6 with a presentation of “The Front Runner.” The film, directed by Jason Reitman and starring Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons and Alfred Molina, is the story of American Senator Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1988 as it is derailed when he is caught in a scandalous love affair.
The festival’s official Opening Night film on Nov. 7 is “Green Book”, directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali and Linda Cardellini. In the film, Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a world-class black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.
Closing the festival on Sunday, Nov. 11 is HBO Films’ “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.” Directed by Marina Zenovich, the documentary looks into the life and work of the master comedian and actor.
Award season contenders and special presentations
— “A Private War” (Aviron Pictures)—War correspondent Marie Colvin is a fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the front line of conflicts across the globe to give voice to the voiceless. Directed by Matthew Heineman and starring Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci and Tom Hollander.
— “At Eternity’s Gate” (CBS Films)—A look at the life of painter Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Aries and Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Mads Mikkelsen and Oscar Isaac.
— “Capernaum” (Sony Pictures Classics)—Zain, a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. Directed by Nadine Labaki and starring Michel Merkt and Khaled Mouzanar.
— “Devil’s Garden”—A national forest treasure in California is home to the last sustainable herd of wild horses in this state. However, they are in danger of becoming completely wiped away because of profit-taking entities on public lands. Directed by Victoria Bergqvist and Scott Powers.
— “Do You Trust This Computer?” – Will artificial intelligence usher in an age of unprecedented potential, or prove to be our final invention? Directed by Chris Paine.
— “High-Sensitive Youth in the Horse-Heart-Space”—What happens when adopted and foster children and rescued horses, cast off by their owners, meet? This documentary explores the friendship between two beings so different and yet so alike. Directed by Jolanda Ellenberger.
— “Never Look Away” (Sony Pictures Classics)—German artist Kurt Barnert has escaped East Germany and now lives in West Germany but is tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the GDR-regime. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and starring Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch and Paula Beer.
— “Pick of the Litter” (IFC)—The film follows a litter of puppies in their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. Directed by Don Hardy Jr. and Dana Nachman.
— “Sharkwater Extinction”—A thrilling, action adventure journey follows filmmaker Rob Stewart as he exposes the billion-dollar illegal shark fin industry and the political corruption behind it. Directed by Rob Stewart.
— “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” (Fun Academy Motion Pictures)—The true story of a stray dog who joins his new master on the battlefields of the First World War. For his valorous actions, Sgt. Stubby is still recognized as the most decorated dog in American history. Directed by Richard Lanni and starring Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.
— “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon)—Documentarian John Chester and his wife Molly work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles. Directed by John Chester.
— “Uncrushable”—The story of the Northern California wildfires is told through the eyes of those most affected in the area. Victims who lost homes or businesses, first responders, chefs and winemakers share their harrowing accounts. Directed by Tyler Florence.
— “Valley of the Boom” (National Geographic Channel) – A look at the technology boom of the 1990s in Silicon Valley. Directed by Matthew Carnahan, produced by Arianna Huffington and starring Bradley Whitford, Steve Zahn and Lamorne Morris.
— “Vox Lux” (Neon)—An unusual set of circumstances brings unexpected success to a pop star. Directed by Brady Corbet and starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Willem Dafoe.
— “Wheelman” (Netflix)—A getaway driver for a bank robbery realizes he has been double crossed and races to find out who betrayed him. Directed by Jeremy Rush and starring Frank Grillo.
The Award Ceremony takes place at the Uptown Theatre on Nov. 10. The winners of the Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature will each receive a $10,000 check courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley.
The Festival Gala will follow the Award Ceremony at the CIA at Copia and will feature cuisine from the valley’s local culinary stars, Napa Valley wines and craft cocktails. The evening will also feature musical performances by Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters and Ethan Tucker. Many of the festival’s attending filmmakers and celebrity guests are expected to attend.
To view the complete list of films that will be screened and to purchase passes to the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival, visit nvff.org.
“We are eager to share this year’s compelling film lineup with our audiences: playful, poignant and powerful narratives, blended with educational, eye-opening, and inspirational documentaries, with a good helping of star power on top for good measure”, said Marc Lhormer, NVFF executive and artistic director. “We are especially excited to introduce our new #ArtInspiringAction initiative enabling audience members to engage more deeply with the issues raised in many of our films. We look forward to celebrating together at all of our events and parties overflowing with Napa Valley’s finest food and wine.”