Tuesday evening, the California Film Institute officially announced the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival. This is one of the two really big film festivals in the Bay Area (the other being the San Francisco International Film Festival). Because of the late summer/early fall dates, Mill Valley tends to get a lot of the better Indiewood films likely to be major Oscar contenders. In fact, for the last five years in a row, the Best Picture winner had its Bay Area premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
This year’s festival will run from Thursday, October 8 to Sunday, October 18. It will screen 107 feature films and 76 shorts on 13 different screens around Marin County (to my knowledge, only two screens will be in Mill Valley). Over 300 filmmakers will be in attendance.
A few promising screenings ,events, and series:
- As is MVFF’s custom, the festival will open with two premieres: Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl
(with Eddie Redmayne as transgender painter Lili Elbe) and Spotlight, about The Boston Globe uncovering child molestation in the Catholic Church.
- Aretha Franklin is keeping the documentary Amazing Grace out of circulation, so the Festival will screen Mavis!, instead.
- Amongst the panels I’m most eager to catch (which doesn’t mean I’ll be able to catch either of them) are The Future of Film Technology
and The State of the Industry.
- If you’re a fan of Green Day, you may want to catch the world premiere of Heart Like a Hand Grenade, a documentary about the making of the album American Idiot. This is the only festival that will screen this film.
- A number of documentaries will cover every cinephile’s favorite subject: movies. These include Hitchcock/Truffaut, Ingrid Bergman—In Her Own Words, and Women He’s Undressed, about costume designer Orry-Kelly. (Interesting overlap here. Bergman worked with Kelly in Casablanca and with Hitchcock in four films, including Notorious.)
- There’s even a Steven Spielberg movie, Bridge of Spies–co-written by the Coen Brothers..
- The Spotlight program will be I Smile Back, a drama starring Sarah Silverman. The Festival is describing this as a “groundbreaking departure from her comedic roots,” but that’s a bit of an exaggeration. She played a serious, dramatic supporting role in Take This Waltz, and didn’t do so well in it (at least in my opinion).
- The Centerpiece screening will be Barbet Schroeder’s Amnesia.
- The great documentarian Marcel Ophuls will be honored with a screening of his new autobiographical doc, Ain’t Misbehavin’. The festival will also screen his four-hour, 1969 masterpiece, The Sorrow and the Pity.
This will be one of two films screened off actual film.
- Movies from the Middle East include Mardan, a crime thriller from Iraqi Kurdistan, and Tikkun, which is not about Michael Lerner’s magazine. According to Executive Director Mark Fishkin, this Israeli film “will be controversial. It’s an art film by every definition.” He promises that this story set in an ultra-orthodox community contains full-frontal male and female nudity, and necrophilia. “I think it’s a small masterpiece.”
- As a last-minute addition, the festival will present a tribute to Ian McKellen. Details, and even a date and URL, will come later.
- The Festival closes with Suffragette
(about Britain’s struggle for voting rights). The cast includes Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep.
The Festival’s Twitter hashtag is #mvff38.