For the 43rd edition of its Mill Valley Film Festival, the California Film Institute says it has it all figured out, given the circumstances.
MVFF43 organizers unveiled its full lineup this week, highlighting an array of star-studded marquee screenings of likely Academy Award contenders and a whirlwind of spotlights, tributes, special premieres and appearances that will leave cinephiles' heads spinning. The big COVID-era difference to years past is that in lieu of red carpets and glitz, we'll all be at home, or in our cars, as all screenings are either virtual or at the festival's drive-in cinema, a "studio-grade outdoor cinema, with a 52-foot screen, 4K projection, and Dolby 5.1/7/1 sound" at Lagoon Park-Marin Center in San Rafael.
"Although MVFF43 will not look the same as in previous years, what initially seemed like a challenge now feels like an opportunity to bring us together in an unexpected way, during an unprecedented time,” CFI Executive Director Mark Fishkin said in his announcement. “We will continue to boast the year’s best films from all corners of the globe this year, professionally showcased in an online virtual cinema and at the studio grade, MVFF43 Drive-In Cinema at the beautiful Lagoon Park-Marin Center in San Rafael."
That drive-in features 10 nights of screenings, as well as a full slate of DocLands films, CFI's documentary film festival postponed from earlier this year. Due to logistical complications related to the COVID-19 crisis, MVFF43 will not include any Mill Valley presence for the first time in its history.
MVFF43's Drive-In Cinema kicks off Oct. 8 with the world premiere of Edward Hall’s Blithe Spirit, based on the 1941 play by Noël Coward, featuring Dame Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, and Leslie Mann.
“The film is a true delight, conveying a high-energy and 'spirited' story that has withstood the test of time," Fishkin said. "Featuring an abundance of wit and a bit of fantasy, it is the perfect antidote to months of sheltering in place. Join us as we once again celebrate the magic of the movies, gathered together safely, under a screen – and sky – full of stars.”
The 2020 Virtual Screenings will debut with Ariel Winograd’s wildly entertaining ride through the execution of one of the greatest bank heists in Argentinian history, The Heist of the Century (El Robo Del Siglo); Alexandre Rockwell’s Sweet Thing, a stunning ode to the magical resilience of childhood; the California Premiere of Byambasuren Davaa’s Veins of the World, which follows a young Mongolian boy as he learns grief can be a source of empowerment in his quest to honor his father’s memory; the US Premiere of The Boys Who Said No!, the third in a triptych on war, resistance, and nonviolence from Oscar-nominated Bay Area filmmaker Judith Ehrlich; and David Garrett Byars’ Public Trust, an in-depth exploration of the mounting conflict over public lands in America, which was to be the Opening Night film of the previously postponed DocLands Documentary Film Festival.
The drive-In screenings include Blithe Spirit, a spectacular Noël Coward adaptation from Edward Hall starring Judi Dench; the ultra-stylized Mainstream by Gia Coppola, a commentary on contemporary social media; Ammonite by Francis Lee starring Kate Winslet, an 1840s-set portrait of an intense relationship between a fossil hunter and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea; The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart from legendary producer Frank Marshall; Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion winner Nomadland by Chloé Zhao, starring Frances McDormand; and a special 40th anniversary presentation of Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
HERE'S THE FULL SLATE OF SCREENINGS AND EVENTS.
Here's a selection of some of the virtual and drive-in screenings and tribute events:
RUTH: JUSTICE GINSBERG IN
HER OWN WORDS' – OCT. 9-18
'Outside Story' – Oct. 9-18
Viola Davis: Tribute, Conversation &
Mind the Gap Award: Actor of the Year – Oct. 10-19
Her breathtaking, powerful, sensual rendition of the title character in the upcoming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe, again confirms she is the perfect embodiment of Wilson’s work. Mind the Gap continues to shine light on issues that 2020 has laid bare—systemic racism, inequity, and the deep need to reframe narratives in film and life. Davis founded JuVee Productions with her husband to give voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful, and culturally relevant narratives. She speaks truth, she lives truth, through her embodied characters and the sustained commitment of her extraordinary life. MORE INFO.
MVFF CONVERSATION: DELROY LINDO,
SPOTLIGHT & MVFF AWARD– OCT. 11-18
MVFF Conversation: Kate Winslet
Tribute & MVFF Award – Oct. 12
'One Night in Miami' & Centerpiece Spotlight on Director Regina King – Oct. 13
'Take Me to the River New Orleans' – Oct. 14-18
'The Father' (Oct. 14 & 18)
MVFF Conversation: Judi Dench,
Tribute & MVFF Award – Oct. 16
'The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend
a Broken Heart' – Oct. 17
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