The 8th annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) lights up Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga during the most colorful time of the year, November 7 – 11.
In just a few short years, NVFF has established itself as the ultimate celebration of film, food and wine, and as one of the most entertaining, inspiring and memorable experiences for locals and cultural travelers alike.
Over the course of five days and nights, at venues throughout the gorgeous Napa Valley, festival attendees can watch the best new independent films; meet the filmmakers at Q&As after every film; sample wines from boutique wineries all at the same time; attend culinary demonstrations featuring chef and filmmaker collaborations; attend celebrity tributes to talented actors and directors; discover new music at evening parties and receptions; and enjoy the food, wine, beauty and lifestyle of this world-class destination.
What’s in store for NVFF18?
On Thursday, November 8 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, the festival will honor the NVFF18 Charles Krug Legendary Actor, Laurence Fishburne, Raymond Vineyards Trailblazer and Caldwell Vineyard Maverick. All the honorees will participate in intimate on-stage conversations with Access’s Natalie Morales, after the audience views short reels of the actors’ most notable work in film. Past honorees have included Will Ferrell, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Costner, John Travolta, Nancy Meyers, Michael Shannon, Keegan Michael-Key, Michelle Monaghan, Miles Teller, and more.
In addition to the Celebrity Tributes Program, The Groundlings Theatre & School will receive the festival’s first Miner Family Winery Legacy Ensemble Tribute on Friday, November 9. Special guests include Groundlings alumni Cheri Oteri, Laraine Newman, Julia Sweeney, Taran Killam and Stephanie Courtney. This on-stage discussion about how the actors’ experience as a Groundling shaped their careers on Saturday Night Live, and in film and other television shows, will certainly be one of the most hysterical and entertaining programs of the festival this year.
Later on Friday, Geena Davis will also be honored with the Davis Estates Visionary Tribute following a screening of the new documentary This Changes Everything, an investigative look and analysis of gender disparity in Hollywood, featuring Geena as the film’s main subject.
On Saturday, November 10, the Rising Star Showcase presented by Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards will honor a handful of young talent including Billy Magnussen (Game Night), Tye Sheridan, (Ready Player One), Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story), Camila Mendes (Riverdale), Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon) and Rosa Salazer (Alita: Battle Angel).
NVFF18 SPECIAL SCREENING LINE UP:
The festival’s opening day film is Universal Pictures’ Green Book, directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali and Linda Cardellini. This crowd-pleasing film follows Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx who is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South. Confronted with racism, danger—as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.
The festival will also play host to an incredible selection of films, including many of this year’s award-contenders, such as:
At Eternity’s Gate – (CBS Films) An intimate look into Vincent van Gogh’s time in Arles. The film is directed by Julian Schnabel, and stars Willem Dafoe and Oscar Isaac.
A Private War – (Aviron) In a world where journalism is under attack, Marie Colvin (Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike) is one of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time. Colvin is an utterly fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the frontlines of conflicts across the globe to give a voice to the voiceless, while constantly testing the limits between bravery and bravado. Based on the extraordinary life of Marie Colvin, A Private War is brought to the screen by Academy Award nominee and critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman in his pulse-pounding narrative feature debut.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind – (HBO) A funny, intimate and heartbreaking portrait of one of the world’s most beloved and inventive comedians, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is told largely through Williams’ own words, and celebrates what he brought to comedy and to the culture at large, from the wild days of late-1970s L.A. to his death in 2014. Marina Zenovich (Emmy winner for HBO’s Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired) directs.
Vox Lux – (Neon) An unusual set of circumstances brings unexpected success to a pop star. The film is directed by Brady Cobet, and stars Natalie Portman and Jude Law.
The Front Runner (Columbia Pictures) – Oscar® nominee Hugh Jackman stars as the charismatic politician Gary Hart for Academy Award®-nominated director Jason Reitman in the new thrilling drama The Front Runner. The film follows the rise and fall of Senator Hart, who captured the imagination of young voters and was considered the overwhelming front runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when his campaign was sidelined by the story of an extramarital relationship with Donna Rice. Also starring Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons and Alfred Molina, The Front Runner is written by Matt Bai & Jay Carson & Jason Reitman.
Over 100 additional new independent narrative and documentary features and short films will surprise, delight and inspire conversation over the 5-day festival. Filmmakers will be on hand for fascinating post-screening Q&As and discussions with the audience, which are always a highlight for audiences and artists alike.
So many films to choose from! Advance tickets are available for a selection of these don’t-miss films:
- Afghan Cycles
- Up to Snuff: Subject Snuffy Walden will be in attendance
- Pick of the Litter and Life in the Doghouse double feature
- Hurley: Special guest Patrick Dempsey and Hurley Haywood will be in attendance
- Sgt. Stubby – An Unlikely Hero: The first family friendly animated film at NVFF
- Uncrushable: Director and celebrity chef, Tyler Florence will be in attendance
- Valley of the Boom: Sneak Peak of the NEW National Geographic Television Series starring Steve Zahn and Bradley Whitford. Director Matthew Carnahan and many of the cast members will be in attendance.
All NVFF18 film descriptions are currently available on the festival website.
Special EventRound Up
Wednesday’s Opening Night screening is followed by a Festival Kickoff Party for Filmmakers and Pass Plus attendees at Feast it Forward in the Oxbow District in Napa as well as the Opening Night Party at Italics Winegrowers for members of the festival’s Patron Circle and other VIP guests. On Thursday, Patron Circle members and VIPs are invited to the exclusive A-List Dinner Party at Black Stallion Winery following the Celebrity Tributes. Friday Night features the Friday Night Bash, and the incredible Vintner Circle Dinner Series, nearly two-dozen intimate dinners taking place simultaneously throughout the valley, each celebrating one or more of the NVFF18 competition films. Saturday Night, it’s all about recognizing the winning filmmakers in competition at the Awards Ceremony, and then continuing the celebration at the Festival Gala. The Gala is the most elegant and over the top party of the festival, where guests indulge in exquisite cuisine, wine, and cocktails while discovering multiple musical acts and surprise entertainment. Sunday Night “it’s a wrap party” at Materra | Cunat Family Vineyard after the Closing Night films.
Food, Wine, Theaters
For 2018, NVFF attendees will be enjoying a new partnership with Feast it Forward, hosting the festival’s Napa Hub. The Napa Hub includes NVFF’s Monogram Appliances Demonstration Kitchen, afternoon Wine Tasting Intermissions, and the NVFF Box Office. The Glenfiddich Whiskey Lounge will also sit right next door, offering passholders free tastings of the well-loved spirit.
Theater venues, all pop ups except for the Cameo Cinema, include: Uptown Theatre; JaM Cellars Ballroom at the Margrit Mondavi Theatre, upstairs at the Napa Valley Opera House; Lincoln Theater in Yountville; the aforementioned Cameo Cinema; Farmstead Screening Room; Native Sons Hall in St. Helena; the historic Charles Krug Winery; Archer Hotel Napa; and the Acacia Barn at Las Alcobas Napa Valley. Last, but certainly not least, for a nostalgic and unique movie going experience, catch some nighttime film screenings at The Drive-In at the Calistoga Fairgrounds, the festival’s newest venue.
How to Festival
Attending the festival and planning one’s itinerary is easy, with passes available ranging from super affordable to luxuriously indulgent. NVFF organizers have made it easier than ever to fit festival screenings and events into most anyone’s budget and schedule, offering Weekend Passes covering Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a Flex Pass, good for five screenings, demos, panels and/or afternoon wine tastings at any time. These options complement the traditional full 5-day Festival Pass, Pass Plus (adding in the big events and parties), and Patron Circle VIP experience. Those without passes can always attend movies for $20 via Rush Lines at all venues. The bigger the venue the easier it is to get into the movie of your choice from the Rush Line (we recommend going to the Lincoln or Uptown any time of the day or night)!
to see the full program line up and to purchase passes, visit www.nvff.org. See you at the movies!
PHOTOS BY XSIGHT, BOB MCCLENAHAN AND KAI SKYE