A warm July evening laid the perfect back drop for the first of three outdoor movie showings on the picturesque lawns at the historic Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena.

This inaugural joint venture between the winery and the Napa Valley Film Festival showcased the 10-time award-winning film American Wrestler: the Wizard starring Jon Voigt, William Fichtner, George Kosturos and Ali Alshar.  Kosturos, Alshar and Producer Forrest Lucas were on hand for a Q & A with the audience before the showing.  The Mondavi sisters, Alycia and Angelina as well as their mom, Janet were also on hand.

The 2016 sports drama debuted at the Napa Valley Film Festival in 2017 and was voted an attendees favorites.  The story takes place in 1980 when a teenage boy, who immigrated from Iran amid the American hostage crisis wanted to fit in at his new school in Petaluma, California. He was athletic and small, but wanted to earn his lettermen jacket.  He joined the floundering wrestling team and became their star, but not without a lot of challenges.  Kosturos, who was 22-years old at the time played the 17-year Ali Jahani.  He explained to the audience how he had two weeks to learn the wrestling moves for the movie.  Athletic himself, Kosturos had never wrestled before the filming.  Alshar who also starred in the movie was one of the writers and said this was a story that needed to be told.  The movie was written in a way that will stay relevant for years to come.  Producer Forrest Lucas, owner of Forrest Films, is a US entrepreneur who started Lucas Oil Products, Inc. Lucas tends to invest in movies based on true events including the Dog Lover, Ride, Dirt and Stand at Paxton County.

Attendees to Sunset Cinemas night were invited 6:30-8:30 p.m. to enjoy Charles Krug Wine, water and fresh made pizzas along with other snacks while relaxing in low lawn chairs overlooking scenic vineyard views and a redwood grove.  At sunset, the film was screened against a dramatic backdrop following a brief technical adjustment, but the audience was forgiving.  Also among the audience were members of the Justin Siena Wrestling Team.

Other Sunset Cinemas Showings at Charles Krug Winery include:

August 9 – Amanda and Jack Go Glamping, Tickets $10

September 13- Life in Color, Tickets $10


The Napa Valley Film Festival 2018 will take place November 7-11 featuring over 120 new independent films at screening venues throughout the Napa Valley including Charles Krug, Freemark Abbey, 104-year old Cameo Theatre, Lincoln Theater and other intimate venues.  Over 300 visiting filmmakers are expected as well as culinary demonstrations, wine tasting pavilions, the Festival Gala, Celebrity Tributes, Award Ceremonies and an array of parties, VIP receptions, winemaker dinners and more.


Article & Photos: Kari Ruel