MVFF has continued in recent years to display an almost eery ability to showcase films that end up garnering Academy Awards, screening 10 of the last 11 best picture recipients, including 2017’s winner, Moonlight, as well as that year's would-be winner, La La Land. So it comes as little surprise that several of the 2018's most buzzed-about films are putting Mill Valley front and center on their festival circuit.
“Every film, from opening night to closing night, and the spotlights and tributes, are features of extraordinary depth and very contemporary," says MVFF founder and executive director Mark Fishkin.
Opening Night: A Private War & Green Book - Oct. 4
Coupled with the previously announced Opening Night screening of A Private War, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman's first narrative feature film, which stars Rosamund Pike as the late American-born British war reporter Marie Colvin, MVFF looks likely to maintain its reputation as an event with a consistent slate of Academy Award contenders.
The Opening Night Gala, set for 9pm-12am, features food from Belcampo, Big Jim’s BBQ, Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato, Johnny Doughnuts, Pizza Antica, El Huarache Loco, Farmshop, Wise Sons Bagelry, Fisher’s Cheese & Wine, and Sol Food, refreshing beverages provided by BevMo, Bartenders Unlimited, Lagunitas Brewing Company and Equator Coffee, and a chance to dance the night away to live music from Notorious, DJ Rich Factor and the Crackerjack DJs.
Pike, Heineman, Ali and Farrelly are expected to appear. MORE OPENING NIGHT INFO.
Here are the trailers for the Opening Night films:
Spotlight: Carey Mulligan & Wildlife – Oct. 5
The screening will be accompanied by an MVFF Spotlight event highlighting the careers of both Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, 12 Years A Slave) and Mulligan featuring an onstage conversation with both to explore "the director-actor relationship, and how they work together to distill the anatomy of the creative process that leads to great onscreen performances. The evening will also feature a presentation of the MVFF Award to them "in acknowledgement of the creative collaboration between Dano and Mulligan." Mulligan was also the subject of a Spotlight event in 2015. MORE INFO.
Tribute to Paweł Pawlikowski & Cold War – Oct. 5
In 2013, Pawlikowski delved into his past and re-surfaced with Ida, which would go on to win awards at every major festival, including the Oscarâ for Best Foreign Language Film. His latest film, Cold War, explores the dynamic of his parents’ love affair during the Soviet Era and won the Best Director prize at Cannes. MVFF's tribute to Pawlikowski includes a screening of Cold War and the presentation of the MVFF Award followed by a reception at the Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley. MORE INFO.
Beautiful Boy feat. Timothée Chalamet, Amy Ryan & director Felix van Groeningen – Oct. 6
Filmed in San Francisco and Marin, Beautiful Boy features a diverse soundtrack which includes John Lennon, Nirvana, and Sigur Rós, and outstanding supporting performances from Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan as Nic’s maternal figures.
Chalamet, Ryan and Groeningen will all appear at the screening. MORE INFO.
The Parting Glass feat. Anna Paquin, Dennis O'Hare and Director Stephen Moyer – Oct. 6
The film is the story of a suicide and how it ripples and tears through a family – testing their bonds to each other and their memories. The family gathers in Missouri, where Colleen (Paquin), now dead, was last living. Her brother, Danny (O’Hare) and his two sisters, Mare (Cynthia Nixon) and Al (Melissa Leo) meet up with their father, Tommy (Ed Asner), and their sister’s estranged husband, Karl (Rhys Ifans), and they set out on an odyssey. Together, they attempt to piece together Colleen’s last moments and to make sense of her death. MORE INFO.
Spotlight: Boy Erased & Joel Edgerton – Oct. 7
Edgerton sits for a Q&A at the event and a screening of Boy Erased, which tells the story of a teenage son of a Baptist preacher who finds himself at a gay conversion camp after a fellow student maliciously outs him to his family. Based on true events, Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, and Russell Crowe deliver astonishing performances as the divided family in Joel Edgerton’s elliptical coming-of-age tale, in which he also stars as the fiery camp director. The screening and Q&A will be followed by a reception at Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley. MORE INFO.
Spotlight: Amandla Stenberg & The Hate U Give – Oct. 7
The Spotlight event includes a Q&A, a screening of The Hate U Give and a presentation of the MVFF Award, followed by a reception at the Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley. MORE INFO.
Centerpiece: Roma – Oct. 8
It's Cuarón's first Mexican film since his breakout Y Tu Mamá También, which screened at MVFF in 2001). Set in 1970, Roma centers on Cleo (played by Yalitza Aparicio), the indigenous housekeeper to a large Mexico City family. With remarkable attention to detail, Cuarón captures the energy and textures of his youth, from the movie palaces and slums to the affluent rancheros and crowded hospitals. As Cleo faces her own personal crisis, we also see a country beset with natural disasters and civil unrest. But through it all is the bonding she experiences with three generations of women she works for in a story where compassion, loyalty, and love can transcend differences in class and culture. It’s an emotional epic, filmed (by Cuarón himself) in beautiful black and white with hat tips to Renoir and Fellini.
The Centerpiece event features an appearance by Cuarón, who with participate in a Q&A and attend a post-event celebration at the Elks Lodge in San Rafael. MORE INFO.
Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait – Oct. 10
Bay Area native Finn Taylor's film "invites us into the captivating visual world of H. Lee Waters, who documented over 118 small towns in the southeast between 1936-42. Waters’s films are of regular people going about their lives – mill workers streaming out of factories, a mother and daughter dancing on a dirt road, an old man reading a war-time headline, children racing in slow motion toward a huge wooden teeter totter.
Scheinman and Taylor have re-edited these images to Scheinman’s music, to create the film, which premiered at the National Gallery at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is touring the U.S. through 2019. His most recent feature film, Unleashed, won six audience awards, at festivals across the country, including MVFF39. MORE INFO.
Spotlight on Karyn Kusama & Destroyer – Oct 10
The screening will be followed by a Spotlight event in which Kusama will sit for a Q&A and a presentation of the MVFF Award. Kusama has steadfastly built a compelling career of remarkable films since she burst on to the festival scene with in 2000, taking both the Director’s Prize and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes for Girlfight. MORE INFO.
Spotlight on Richard E. Grant & Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Oct. 10
The Spotlight event will feature an onstage conversation with Richard E. Grant will sit for a Q&A and receive a MVFF Award, followed by reception at Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley. MORE INFO.
Spotlight: Maggie Gyllenhaal & The Kindergarten Teacher – Oct. 12
In one of her finest turns to date, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a sensitive kindergarten teacher who notices an uncanny knack for poetry in one of her students. When she attempts to nurture the child’s rare gift, her dedication sparks concern from both the child’s family and her own in this arresting, thoughtful drama. Gyllenhall will sit for a Q&A and receive a MVFF Award. MORE INFO.
Closing Night: If Beale Street Could Talk & Director Barry Jenkins – Oct. 14
Born and raised in Miami, Fla., Jenkins made his feature film debut, Medicine for Melancholy, which was hailed as one of the best films of 2009 by The New York Times and received several Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations. Jenkins along with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight, which won Best Picture at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes (Drama).
Jenkins recently worked on an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead for television, and he's writing a script for a coming of age drama based on the life of the first American Female Olympic boxing champ Clarissa “T-Rex” Shields. Jenkins, who currently lives in Los Angeles, is a curator at the Telluride Film Festival and a United States Artists Smith Fellow. MORE INFO.