1977 must have been some year from Marin County cinemaphiles. First, a film made by one of their own broke box office records and redefined the Hollywood blockbuster. Then the Mill Valley Film Festival debuted–fated to become the other big festival in the Bay Area.
The Mill Valley Film Festival turns 30 this year, and will run from October 4 through October 14 in San Rafael as well as Mill Valley.
Note: As I post this, the festival’s schedule isn’t yet online (I have a hard copy). I can therefore not post to film descriptions. I’ll fix that when I can.
Because of its early fall setting, the MVFF generally provides Bay Area moviegoers with our first glimpse the year’s Oscar bait–Hollywood and indiewood “prestige” pictures that glut the high-brow market in November and December, hoping to score a few Academy Awards. This year is no exception. The festival opens with Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, which just won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, and with The Savages, featuring excellent performances by indiewood megastars Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It closes with the film version of Khaled Hosseini’s best-seller, The Kite Runner. Other high-profile screenings include The Darjeeling Limited, The Orphanage, Main in a Chair, and Todd Haynes’ bizarre-sounding Bob Dylan biopic, I’m Not There. They even have Woody Allen’s latest, Cassandra’s Dream.
Among the lesser-known films that sound promising (I have yet to see any of these) are an animated version of the Chicago 10 trial (yeah, I thought it was the Chicago 8, too), several films from Romania, Djanta–about a young, educated African woman in for a shock when she returns to the village of her birth, and Kenny–an Australian mockumentary about man who cleans toilets. And there’s also something called Autism: The Musical.
Speaking of music, the festival will also present a screening of Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 agitprop masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin, accompanied by the Marin Symphony performing Shostakovich’s score.
The festival includes tributes to Ang Lee, Terry George, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.