In the Bay Area, we have film festivals for Jews, Arabs, Irish, atheists, Asians, South Asians, Asian Americans, blacks, gays, and gay blacks. We have festivals for people who love silent movies, film noir, comedy, and horror.
And we have film festivals for people who just love movies. The Mill Valley Film Festival is one of the bigger generic film festivals in the area. And because of its late summer-early fall position on the calendar, it’s our local preview for much of the year’s Oscar bait–in other words, the films most likely to win Best Picture.
This year’s festival runs from October 3 to October 13, mostly in San Rafael and, of course, Mill Valley.
Some promising highlights:
- The festival opens simultaneously with two films: The Book Thief Alexander Payne’s Nebraska . The very first Mill Valley Film Festival opened with Payne’s Election.
- Amongst the directors honored will be Costa Gavras, Ben Stiller (yes, I know you think of him as an actor, but he’s directed some good movies), and Steve McQueen (the British director of Shame, not the dead American star). Each director will be honored with a screening of their new, not-yet-released feature. I’m particularly curious about McQueen’s film, 12 Years a Slave.
- Four Japanese films will highlight directors of different generations. These will include the classic My Neighbor Totoro and a remake of Ozu’s Tokyo Story called Tokyo Family.
- The drama Generation War looks at German youth in 1941 and beyond.
- Among the actors getting special attention is former child star Dakota Fanning, star of Effie Gray, which the festival is describing as her first adult leading role.
- Several documentaries have environmental themes, including Toxic Hot Seat, The Human Experiment, and the epic, three-part Standing on Sacred Ground.
- The Festival will close with Stiller’s movie, yet another adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
As usual, I’ll preview some of the films beforehand, and let you know what I think about them.