2019 Holiday Travel: New, Record-Setting “Mile High Tree” Anchors Denver’s Mile High Holidays Festivities

Denver’s Newest Holiday Attraction – A 110-Foot Digital Tree – Amplifies The Excitement Around The City’s Seasonal Blockbuster Exhibitions, Events And Performing Arts

This year, along with hundreds of holiday traditions and festivities, The Mile High City will feature two brand-new lighting attractions illuminating downtown, making the city look and feel more festive than ever. The Mile High Tree – the tallest digital tree in North America – will feature pre-programmed LED light shows choreographed to multicultural holiday music; and Night Lights Denver – an outdoor projection mapping installation featuring local artists – will also light up the city skyline.

VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau logo. (PRNewsFoto/VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau)

These new attractions complement the already robust programming that makes up Denver’s Mile High Holidays. There are also world-class exhibitions, like Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature and The Science Behind Pixar, at the city’s museums; innovative and immersive performing arts like Camp Christmas and movies with the Colorado Symphony; and plenty of local gifts to be found in neighborhoods, galleries, boutique shops and marketplaces.

Below are just a few experiences to be found during Mile High Holidays. For more information on how to spend a night or a long weekend in Denver, and to take advantage of holiday hotel deals starting at $99, visit www.MileHighHolidays.com.

Blockbuster Exhibitions

Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature, through February 2, 2020

The Denver Art Museum is the sole U.S. venue for the most comprehensive exhibition of Monet paintings in more than two decades. The exhibition features more than 100 paintings spanning Monet’s entire career and focuses on the celebrated French impressionist artist’s enduring relationship with nature and his response to the varied and distinct places in which he worked. In connection with Denver Art Museum, several hotels have created VIP packages that include untimed, skip-the-line tickets, which allow access to the exhibition even if the date is sold out to the general public; these packages can be found at https://monetindenver.com.

The Science Behind Pixar, through April 5, 2020

Enjoy a unique look into the Pixar process, and explore the science and technology behind some of the most beloved animated films and their characters with The Science Behind Pixar at Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This interactive exhibition showcases the science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts used by the artists and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s award-winning films to the big screen. With more than 50 interactive elements, the exhibition’s eight sections each focus on a step in the filmmaking process to give you an unparalleled view of the production pipeline and concepts used at Pixar every day. Participate in fun, engaging hands-on activities, listen to firsthand accounts from members of the studio’s production teams, and even come face-to-face with re-creations of your favorite Pixar film characters, including Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode, and WALL•E.

Extreme Sports: Beyond Human Limits, through April 12, 2020

Visitors will be put to the test as they jump, fly, dive, climb and explore some of the riskiest activities in the world at this Denver Museum of Nature & Science exhibition. Physical, multimedia and creative challenges place guests inside the minds and bodies of extreme athletes and their passions such as wingsuit flying, ice and rock climbing, parkour, and free diving. Amid exhilarating speeds, breathtaking heights, and profound depths, the stories of these passionate athletes will leave visitors inspired to push their own personal limits.

Beer Here! Brewing the West, through August 9, 2020

Explore Colorado’s brewing industry from the saloons of the Gold Rush through Prohibition to today’s booming craft beer scene at History Colorado Center‘s Beer Here! Brewing the West. Learn about the Centennial State’s brewing past, present and future through historical artifacts, interactive elements and more.

Holiday Performing Arts

Celebrate the Theater, Music and Dance in Denver

Camp Christmas, November 21, 2019 – January 5, 2020

The newest indoor immersive installation from Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Camp Christmas, will feature mesmerizing displays of decorations that shift time and reality. Performed at Stanley Marketplace, Camp Christmas is Denver’s newest holiday experience, where yuletide traditions of the past and present get merrily mashed together in a massive 10,000-square-foot wonderland. All ages are welcome at this family-friendly experience.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker, November 23-24

Innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann‘s beloved story from traditional 19th Century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City. Through this re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, performed at Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the dynamic performers of The Hip Hop Nutcracker take audience members on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of a New Year.

The Nutcracker, November 30 – December 29

Children and adults will enjoy Colorado Ballet‘s 58th annual production of the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker, held at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and featuring unforgettable characters, classic choreography, exquisite sets, dazzling costumes and Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, December 3-8

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical returns to the Buell Theatre in Denver to steal Christmas after a blockbuster debut in 2014. More than 2.5 million theatre-goers across America have been delighted by this heart-warming holiday musical, featuring the hit songs “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the original animated TV special. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the holiday-loving Whos. Magnificent sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville and helps remind them of the true meaning of the holiday season.

Movie at the Symphony: Home Alone in Concert, November 29; Love Actually in Concert, December 6

A holiday classic, Home Alone will feature renowned composer John Williams‘ charming and delightful score performed live by the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall as the film is shown on large suspended screens in Boettcher Concert Hall. Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation, and who must defend his home against two bungling thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). Hilarious and heartwarming, Home Alone is holiday fun for the whole family.

Love Actually is the ultimate romantic holiday comedy. Featuring an all-star cast, the film will take audiences on a tour of love’s delightful twists and turns. The score will be performed by the Colorado Symphony and conductor Christopher Dragon.

Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum, December 7-22

For 28 years, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble has been blending dance, live music, spoken word and seasonal celebrations and customs from around the world into a memorable holiday tradition like no other. A Denver original, Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum is a family favorite that inspires audiences of all ages to discover, celebrate and honor the holiday traditions of cultures from around the world.

Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas Tour, December 8

The celestial voices of multi-platinum Irish singing group, Celtic Woman, will be coupled with the Colorado Symphony in Denver’s stop of The Best of Christmas Tour. The performance at Boettcher Concert Hall will feature music from the all-female ensemble’s most favorite Yuletide songs.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, December 13-14

The one and only Moscow Ballet will present the Great Russian Nutcracker at Denver’s Paramount Theatre. Featuring world class Russian artists, hand-painted sets, Russian Snow Maidens, and jubilant Nesting Dolls – Great Russian Nutcracker brings the Christmas spirit to life for all ages.

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Walker Art Center Presents a Dialogue and Retrospective, Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film

Independent documentary filmmaker Julia Reichert has been asking defining questions about workers’ rights, gender roles, taboos, and social change in America since the early 1970s. The pioneering Emmy Award–winner and three-time Academy Award–nominee comes to the Walker Arts Center for a retrospective of her distinguished body of work, Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film, Feb 1–29, 2020 (at the Walker’s Bentson Mediatheque). Reichert will be on-site February 28 and 29, 2020 to discuss her career and her two recent, widely celebrated documentaries, American Factory and 9 to 5: The Story of a Movement.

Julia Reichert. Image courtesy the artist.

Indiewire on Julia Reichert
Women and Hollywood on Julia Reichert

Schedule of Events

Double Feature: Growing Up Female and Union Maids

Julia Reichert’s Growing Up Female, 1971. Image courtesy the artist.
Julia Reichert’s Growing Up Female, 1971. Image courtesy the artist.

Growing Up Female Directed by Julia Reichert and Jim Klein

Thursday, February 20, 7 pm Free

I wish every high school kid in America could see this film.” —Susan Sontag on Growing Up Female

Growing Up Female is the very first feature-length film of the modern women’s movement. Considered controversial and exhilarating on its release, the film examines female socialization through a personal look into the lives of six women, ages four to 35, and the forces that shape them—teachers, counselors, advertisements, music, and the institution of marriage. A time capsule of a generation’s feminist issues, sometimes intersecting with race and class, the film illuminates a complex system of institutions upholding internal and external oppression. Selected to the National Film Registry in 2011. 1971, DCP, 52 min.

Julia Reichert’s Union Maids, 1976. Image courtesy the artist.
Julia Reichert’s Union Maids, 1976. Image courtesy the artist.

Union Maids, Directed by Julia Reichert, Jim Klein, and Miles Mogulescu

Reichert interviews three “Union Maids” on their experiences as organizing women of the Labor movement. Fighting for humanitarian rights, these radical workers reflect on their lives filled with purpose and struggle. Frustrated by the privileged class’ participation in the women’s movement and caught up in race and gender discrimination within class warfare, their voices echo and contextualize many social justice issues today. 1976, DCP, 48 min.

Julia Reichert at her film editing table in 1973. Image courtesy the artist.

Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists, Directed by Julia Reichert and Jim Klein

Julia Reichert’s Seeing Red, 1983. Image courtesy the artist.

Friday, February 21, 7 pm; $10 ($8 Walker members, students, and seniors)

Reichert brings to light the forgotten history of Americans who joined the Communist Party and the high price many of them paid for their beliefs. Boldly countering traditional myths, the film presents engaging interviews and personal accounts that take on a new resonance in today’s charged political climate. 1983, DCP, 100 min.

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20th Annual SOUND UNSEEN | FILM + MUSIC FESTIVAL Announces 2019 Full Film Lineup

The Sound Unseen Film + Music Festival (November 12-17) announced the film lineup for this year’s 20th Anniversary edition of the film festival.

Highlights include a special appearance of John Doe with the screening of W.T. Morgan’s documentary X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC, award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner coming to Sound Unseen with a 15th Anniversary screening of her film, DIG!, as well as a special presentation of the MAPPLETHORPE Director’s Cut. Sound Unseen also announced that Scott Crawford’s BOY HOWDY: THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE, would be the Closing Night selection.

In the fall of 1999, Sound Unseen introduced itself as a unique, cutting edge “films-on-music” festival in Minneapolis. Formulated as a cultural organization dedicated to the role of film and music as a conduit of powerful ideas and diverse viewpoints. Its mission is to foster a greater appreciation of cinema, to bridge cultures, create and expand community, provide cultural exchange, networking opportunities and educational outreach through regular interaction with great films, filmmakers, musicians and artists.

Since its inception, It has established itself as one of the premiere niche festivals in the country, but more importantly as a vital part of the regional cultural scene. Now in its 19th year, the festival has expanded to include year-round programming, unique pop-up events, and special screenings including world and regional premieres.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence will have its Minnesota Premiere at the 20th Annual SOUND UNSEEN | FILM + MUSIC FESTIVAL

Named “One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” by Moviemaker Magazine in 2016, the “Best Winter Film Festival” by the Star Tribune 2012, and the “Best of the Fests 2010” from Mpls/St Paul Magazine, Sound Unseen continues its tenure as the region’s premiere films-on-music festival. While bringing the best in documentaries, short films, and music videos it also showcases rare concert footage, interactive panels, and live music events. As part of its year-round presence, Sound Unseen offers a successful monthly screening series and special events throughout the Twin Cities. This diversity in content is one of the things that separates Sound Unseen from the typical outdoor mega concerts and film festivals.

Sound Unseen Festival Director Jim Brunzell and Producer/Co-Programmer Rich Gill, said, “Our lineup this year is a wonderful mix of films hot on the film festival circuit, classics, and screenings that include appearances by wonderful filmmakers and musicians. We are really excited about this group of films and events built around them that should make our 20th Anniversary edition truly memorable.

Scott Crawford’s BOY HOWDY: THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE joins the previously announced Seamus Murphy’s A DOG CALLED MONEY (Opening Night), and Brandon Vedder’s STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS (Centerpiece) to complete an impressive trio of Gala screenings. BOY HOWDY: THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE looks at the seminal Creem Magazine‘s humble beginnings to becoming one of the publications of record for rock n’ roll. Fifty years after publishing its first issue, “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine” remains a seditious spirit in music and culture. The film features interviews with Cameron Crowe, Alice Cooper, Kirk Hammett, Joan Jett, Michael Stipe, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Chad Smith, Peter Wolf and Wayne Kramer.

The one and only John Doe of X will come to Sound Unseen as part of a presentation of W.T. Morgan’s X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC. Screened on 35mm, the film is one of the best music films of the punk era. Shot over the course of five years, this documentary presents spectacular live performances interspersed with interviews with the band members and associates.

The only filmmaker to be a two-time Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize Jury Winner, Ondi Timoner comes to Minnesota with two of her films. The first is the 15th Anniversary screening of DIG!. The 2004 documentary looked at the collision of art and commerce through the eyes of The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The film was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art for their permanent collection. Timoner will also be on hand for her Director’s Cut of MAPPLETHORPE. Led by a devastating performance by Matt Smith in the title role, the stylish and well-crafted biopic covers the full life of its subject, world renowned and controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, most frequently providing an alluring view of New York in its grittiest era.

Other highlights include; ALL I CAN SAY, a film created from hours of home video footage shot by tragic Blind Melon front man Shannon Hoon; Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni‘s GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND, a portrait of Canada’s most famous singer-songwriter; Tyler Measom’s I WANT MY MTV, which traces the beginnings and exploding influence of the music video channel; Steven GaddisLIVE FROM THE ASTROTURF: ALICE COOPER, about a super-secret concert event at a record store in Dallas, featuring the legendary shock rocker; the North American premiere of Simon David’s TIME AND PLACE, about cult favorite Atlanta R&B artist Lee Moses; and Brent HodgesWHO LET THE DOGS OUT, which explores the history, influence, and story behind the famous (or infamous) song.

For more information about Sound Unseen, as well as how to purchase tickets, go to: http://www.soundunseen.com.

The 2019 Sound Unseen Film Festival official selections:

Opening Night Selection

A DOG CALLED MONEY MIDWEST PREMIERE

Director: Seamus Murphy

Countries: Ireland/UK, Running Time: 90 min

Alternative-music icon PJ Harvey’s ninth studio album, 2016’s “The Hope Six Demolition Project,” was created through a unique process that blended travelogue, photography, performance art, and now a documentary feature. It began when Harvey, looking to develop a new set of politically tinged songs that would also evoke a tangible sense of place, decided to accompany award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker Seamus Murphy as he travelled on assignments to war-torn regions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the poor, mostly black neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.

CENTERPIECE SELECTION

STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS MINNESOTA PREMIERE

Director: Brandon Vedder

Countries: USA, Running Time: 91 min

After renouncing his long-held Christian beliefs and walking away from his critically-acclaimed band, Pedro the Lion, musician David Bazan retreated into a solitary life of touring solo, struggling to rebuild his worldview and career from the ground-up, and to support his family of four. STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS finds David a decade into his journey, during which he has become a sort of reluctant prophet to Americans reeling from their country’s own crisis of faith highlighted during the 2016 presidential election.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION

BOY HOWDY: THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE MINNESOTA PREMIERE

Director: Scott Crawford

Country: USA, Running Time: 75 min

Capturing the messy upheaval of the ’70s just as rock was re-inventing itself, the film explores Creem Magazine’s humble beginnings in post-riot Detroit, follows its upward trajectory from underground paper to national powerhouse, then bears witness to its imminent demise following the tragic and untimely deaths of its visionary publisher, Barry Kramer, and its most famous alum and genius clown prince, Lester Bangs, a year later.

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Walker Art Center Presents Sound Unseen Film + Music Festival Opening Night Film

Evening Will Feature Live Music by Katy Vernon and PJ Harvey Film A Dog Called Money

The Sound Unseen Film+Music Festival (November 12 – 17, 2019) celebrates 20 years of film, music, and art in the Twin Cities. The opening night event includes a live music performance by Katy Vernon on the Walker Cinema Stage starting at 6:30 pm and a postshow reception in the main lobby. (Visit Sound Unseen for the full schedule of events and locations.)

Walker Arts Center logo (edited)

In the fall of 1999, Sound Unseen introduced itself as a unique, cutting edge “films-on-music” festival in Minneapolis. Formulated as a cultural organization dedicated to the role of film and music as a conduit of powerful ideas and diverse viewpoints. Its mission is to foster a greater appreciation of cinema, to bridge cultures, create and expand community, provide cultural exchange, networking opportunities and educational outreach through regular interaction with great films, filmmakers, musicians and artists.

The Sound Unseen Film+Music Festival logo

Since its inception, It has established itself as one of the premiere niche festivals in the country, but more importantly as a vital part of the regional cultural scene. Now in its 19th year, the festival has expanded to include year-round programming, unique pop-up events, and special screenings including world and regional premieres.

Named “One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” by Moviemaker Magazine in 2016, the “Best Winter Film Festival” by the Star Tribune 2012, and the “Best of the Fests 2010” from  Mpls/St Paul Magazine, Sound Unseen continues its tenure as the region’s premiere films-on-music festival. While bringing the best in documentaries, short films, and music videos it also showcases rare concert footage, interactive panels, and live music events. As part of its year-round presence, Sound Unseen offers a successful monthly screening series and special events throughout the Twin Cities. This diversity in content is one of the things that separates Sound Unseen from the typical outdoor mega concerts and film festivals.

Sound Unseen has received press coverage in all major local media including The Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, City Pages, Vita.mn, Secrets of the City, Walker Art blog, TC Daily Planet, Northland News, Growler Magazine, MinnPost; local radio stations The Current, KQRS, MPR, Radio K and television news including NBC, FOX, and CBS. National media mentions have included Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, USA Today, Music Film Web blog, The Playlist, and AIF Independent magazine of New York.

Screenshot from PJ Harvey Film A Dog Called Money, directed by Seamus Murphy

Alternative-music icon PJ Harvey’s ninth studio album, 2016’s The Hope Six Demolition Project, was created through a unique process that blended travelogue, photography, performance art, and now a documentary feature. It began when Harvey, looking to develop a new set of politically tinged songs that would also evoke a tangible sense of place, decided to accompany award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker Seamus Murphy as he travelled on assignments to war-torn regions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the poor, mostly black neighborhoods of Washington, DC. As Murphy filmed, Harvey personally interacted with the members of the different communities and wrote her impressions in a diary, crafting song lyrics and melodies based on the stories she uncovered. Back in London, Harvey and her band experimented with these new songs during a live sound installation called “Recording in Progress” at the distinguished Somerset House, generating an album’s worth of material entirely within a glass-walled recording studio, with members of the public invited to watch. Chronicling the entire project, and even including a handful of songs not on the final album, A Dog Called Money is Murphy’s inspiring, expressionistic document of this unprecedented collaborative experiment. 2019, Ireland/UK, DCP, 90 min. —Clinton McClung, Seattle International Film Festival

Sound Unseen Opening Night
Tuesday, November 12
Live Music: Katy Vernon, 6:30pm
Screening:
A Dog Called Money, 7pm
Walker Cinema, $20 ($15 Walker members, students, and seniors)

Co-presented with Sound Unseen.

‘Just Mercy’ Announced As Closing Night At Austin Film Festival, Marking The Return Of AFF Screenwriting Winner Andrew Lanham

Meg And Lawrence Kasdan To Return To AFF Conference And Welcome The World Premiere Of Documentary , Last Week At Ed’s

The 26th annual Austin Film Festival (AFF) (October 24 – 31, 2019), the premier film festival recognizing writers’ and filmmakers’ contributions to film, television, theatre and new media, will proudly present Just Mercy as its Closing Night film on October 31, 2019 at 9:15pm at The Paramount Theatre. Attending with the film is screenwriter Andrew Lanham, UT Michener Graduate and 2016 AFF Screenwriter to watch. Lanham has also been recognized by AFF previously as 2010’s Drama Screenplay Competition winner for The Jumper of Maine. (You can view the full sof films here.)

Directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton, Just Mercy tells the true story of attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) and his fight to defend Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man wrongfully sentenced to death. The film made its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in September and will be theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures, beginning December 25, 2019. Cast member Tim Blake Nelson will also attend with the screening, joining Lanham for a post-film Q&A.

Authenticity is essential to capturing something so historic as this struggle for justice and humanity,” stated Casey Baron, Film Program Director. “It is an honor to welcome back a storyteller the Festival has watched grow and achieve over the past decade, with us to celebrate our Closing Night.”

Additionally, Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill, The Force Awakens) is set to return to AFF’s Conference for a conversation about the necessities for writing a successful screenplay. He and Meg Kasdan (Grand Canyon, Darling Companion) will co-present the World Premiere of Last Night at Ed’s alongside Kasdan, documenting the personal story of a beloved Hollywood establishment’s final days. The film will screen Saturday October 26, 2019 at 2 pm at the State Theatre, and Kasdan’s Conversation will take place Saturday October 26, 2019 at 4:45pm at the Central Presbyterian Church.

AFF will also be presenting Scandalous, an investigation into the sordid and larger-than-life history of the National Enquirer. Under the direction of Texas filmmaker Mark Landsman, the film dives into the infamous tabloid’s sensational coverage that captivated readers for decades. Scandalous screens October 27, 2019 at 5:30 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Village.

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The 26th Annual Austin Film Festival To Open With The Us Premiere Of ‘The Obituary Of Tunde Johnson,’ And Announced Additional Titles Set To Screen At The Festival

Austin Film Festival banner

The 26th Annual Austin Film Festival (AFF), the premier film festival recognizing writers’ and filmmakers’ contributions to film, television, theatre and new media, announced its Opening Night feature, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, taking place October 24, 2019. Director Ali LeRoi will present the film alongside screenwriter Stanley Kalu. The film is LeRoi’s feature directorial debut, and Kalu’s first produced feature screenplay. Kalu won The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition in 2018, co-founded by Zachary Green and Jason Shuman. Along with receiving a $50,000 education grant and literary representation, Kalu’s film was produced by Green, Shuman and philanthropists Chuck and Marni Bond.

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson follows Tunde Johnson (portrayed by Steven Silver), a gay, black teenager trapped in a time loop that forces him to relive his own brutal murder at the hands of a police officer on duty. The film made its World Premiere at 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. LeRoi and Kalu will participate in a post-film Q&A following the screening and will also take part in programming as panelists at the AFF Writers Conference.

AFF also proudly announces an additional Marquee feature, Atlantics. Atlantics, a haunting romance set in Senegal, is the feature directorial debut of Mati Diop. The film was awarded the Sutherland Award at the BFI London Film Festival as well as the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. The film will screen Sunday October 27, 2019 at 2:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. Atlantics will premiere in theaters November 15, 2019 and on Netflix November 29, 2019.

The Festival’s shorts programming blocks include Wanted: Strong Woman, in which a woman finds a new passion, Black Goat, the story of a girl’s dark coming of age ritual, Robu, a young man’s journey through Japan to recover a special manga, and Digital Series Brothers from the Suburbs, a comedy centered on three black high schoolers. The Festival is also screening short films The Shabbos Goy, a comedy from Paul Feig, Laura Fischer’s Powderkeg Fuse incubator, Bye Bye Body, an introspective look at body positivity, and family drama Jane. Other mentionable shorts include the University of Texas filmmakers’ Femenina, which tells the story of a wrestler’s grappling with his own sexuality, and Super Sonic, a romance cultivated beyond one man’s hearing-impairment.

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Ninth Annual Napa Valley Film Festival Announces Film Line-Up

Festival to open with “Just Mercy,” close with World Premiere of “Verticals”

The ninth annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) has announced its film line-up, including Opening and Closing Night screenings. NVFF returns this fall with its five-day festival showcasing the year’s best new independent films, November 13-17. Organizers will showcase Napa Valley’s finest food and wine at all special events, including the Festival Gala, VIP receptions and Vintner Circle dinners, and will feature a lively series of filmmaker-chef collaborative demonstrations at the Monogram Appliances Demonstration Kitchen at the Oxbow Commons in downtown Napa. The seven screening venues located throughout the Valley include the Archer Hotel Napa, the historic Cameo Cinema, the CIA at Copia, Charles Krug Winery, Lincoln Theater, Native Sons, and the Uptown Theatre.

Napa Valley Film Festival Logo

We are excited to release another eclectic selection of highly-curated comedies and dramas from established and emerging filmmakers,” said Napa Valley Film Festival CEO Tom Tardio. “These films consist of inspiring and compelling stories that will thoroughly engage and entertain our festival-goers. At the intersections of film, food, and wine, the festival continues to deliver tremendously unique and exclusive experiences that only a world-class destination such as Napa Valley can provide and only that NVFF can deliver.”

Sneak Preview Night, Opening Night and Closing Night

NVFF will kick off with their Sneak Preview Night on Tuesday, November 12 with a special presentation of 20th Century Fox’s Ford v Ferrari. The film is inspired by the remarkable true story of visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby and the fearless British driver Ken Miles. Directed by James Mangold, the film stars Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone and Ray McKinnon.

The festival’s official Opening Night film on Wednesday, November 13 is Warner Bros.’ Just Mercy, a powerful and thought-provoking true story following young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. The film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and stars Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx.

Closing the festival on Sunday, November 17 is SOMMTV’s world premiere of Verticals, a series that showcases Napa Valley winemakers and the human condition through a bottle of wine. This premiere is also the launch of SOMMTV, the first food and wine dedicated streaming platform. The series is directed by Jason Wise.

Award Season Contenders

  • Clemency (Neon) – Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden, Bernadine Williams. The emotional wedge in her marriage grows and memories of a recently botched execution plague her daily. As she prepares to end the life of another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to execute. Directed by Chinonye Chukwu and starring Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Wendell Price, Richard Schiff and Danielle Brooks.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon) – In 1760 France, Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship with the reluctant bride-to-be, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love. Directed by Céline Sciamma and starring Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel.
  • To The Stars (Samuel Goldwyn Films) – Iris, a bespectacled and reclusive teen living in a god-fearing Oklahoma town in the 1960s, endures the booze-induced antics of her mother and daily doses of bullying from her classmates. She finds solace in Maggie, the charismatic and enigmatic new girl at school, who hones in on Iris’s untapped potential and coaxes her out of her shell. When Maggie’s mysterious past can no longer be suppressed, the small community is thrown into a state of panic, leaving Maggie to take potentially drastic measures and inciting Iris to stand up for her friend and herself. Directed by Martha Stephens and starring Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Malin Akerman, Tony Hale, Shea Whigham and Adelaide Clemens.
  • Troop Zero (Amazon Studios) – In a tiny Georgia town in 1977, a motherless girl named Christmas Flint dreams of life beyond the confines of her trailer-park home and hopes to make contact with outer space. When Christmas learns that the winners of the annual Birdie Scout Jamboree talent contest will be included on a recording to be sent into space for posterity, she tries to join the local Scouts troop. When she is rejected by the snobbish group of girls and their uptight leader Miss Massey, Christmas rallies a group of elementary-school outliers to start their own chapter. Troop Zero is an endearing and magical tale of friendship and individuality. Directed by Bert & Bertie and starring Viola Davis, Mckenna Grace, Jim Gaffigan, Mike Epps, Charles Shotwell and Allison Janney.

Special Presentations

  • Code & Response – 2018 was the worst year on record for natural disasters. Code & Response takes us into the heart of the aftermath of some of those disasters as we meet the first responders who are supported by innovative technology. Follow four coders from around the world (Japan, Puerto Rico, California, and Mexico) to learn about why they are getting involved, as well as how they are building technologies to help first responders save lives. Directed by Austin Peck.
  • Elsewhere – Bruno is still mourning his wife’s passing when his in-laws evict him from the home he and wife built together. Unwilling to let his beloved home fall into disrepair, Bruno sneaks back to the house and meets the new owner of the home, Marie. Determined to be the only person to make any changes to the house he built, Bruno poses as a local handyman and Marie hires him for renovations. As the two begin work on the house, Bruno is forced to face the reality that his wife is gone, and he learns to move on from his grief. Directed by Hernán Jiménez and starring Aden Young, Parker Posey, Ken Jeong, Beau Bridges and Jacki Weaver. World Premiere
  • From the Vine – Mark, a downtrodden CEO, is experiencing an ethical crisis at work. In an attempt to re-calibrate his moral compass, he travels back to his hometown in rural Italy. He finds newfound purpose by reviving his grandfather’s old vineyard, offering the small town of Acerenza a sustainable future and reconnecting with his family in the process. Combining magical realism and Italian neorealism, and set against the backdrop of Italian wine country, From the Vine is about returning to your roots and redefining your life when you’re at the bottom of the barrel. Directed by Sean Cisterna and starring Joe Pantoliano, Wendy Crewson, Marco Leonardi, Paula Brancati and Tony Cisterna.
  • Gay Chorus Deep South – In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. The tour brings a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. What emerges is a less divided America, where the lines that separate us in faith, politics, and sexual identity are erased through the soaring power of music, humanity, and a little drag. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues.
  • I Want My MTV – A nostalgic and thrilling ride, I Want My MTV takes its audience back to the beginning, when the idea of a television channel devoted to only videos seemed destined for failure. The chronicling of this unique journey provides a peek into how a team of young executives were tasked with growing this seed of an idea, which would quickly flourish into a beloved and often controversial cultural juggernaut. Features commentary from Sting, Billy Idol, The Eurythmics, Jerry Cantrell, Pat Benatar, and more. Directed by Patrick Waldrop and Tyler Measom, and starring Sting, Billy Idol, Pat Benatar, Dee Snider, Norman Lear, The Eurythmics , Darryl McDaniel and Jerry Cantrell.
  • It All Begins with a Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter – It All Begins with a Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter is a celebration of one of music’s most important yet underrated forces: the songwriter. These songwriters have penned melodies and lyrics for some of the biggest stars in the music industry, yet few know their names. Pull back the curtain to reveal the process of creating a successful song and learn more about the origins of some of the world’s most iconic hits. Directed by Anthony ‘Chusy’ Haney-Jardine.
  • The Land of High Mountains – The Land of High Mountains is the inspiring true story of the only pediatric hospital in Haiti. In a country where one third of the population is under fourteen years of age and foreign NGOs consistently come and go, Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital has been providing life-saving healthcare to the most vulnerable families for over thirty years. This is a powerful account of the incredible people, both Haitian and foreign who, despite encountering every conceivable obstacle, are working together to create a brighter future for their patients and for Haiti. Directed by Will Agee and starring Liferne Forestal, Phadoul Amisial, Fr. Rick Frechette, Dr. Renee Alce, Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Fr. Enzo Del Brocco, Veline , Gaelle , Lourdy , Pierre Nadine, Sainfleur Jean Israel, Marie Yolene, Vilaire Meralin and Christiana Liberis.
  • Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound – Since the invention of sound in films, sound designers have been influencing the landscape of cinema. Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes of sound design throughout cinematic history. Through interviews with legendary directors and some of the industry’s most-respected sound designers, we revisit film classics that helped shape the way we listen to and experience films today. Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound reveals the hidden impact of sound in cinema and how the auditory intake of a film holds so much power over an individual’s experience of storytelling. Directed by Midge Costin.
  • Martha: A Picture Story – In the 1970s, Martha Cooper was one of a handful of photographers documenting the first vivid images of graffiti appearing on New York City’s subway carriages. 20 years later, she discovers that her book Subway Art has become one of the most stolen books of all time – inspiring the spread of graffiti around the globe and making Martha an unexpected icon of the street art world. Now, at age 75, Martha must navigate her way through the vastly changed culture of the modern world. Directed by Selina Miles.
  • My Beautiful Stutter – After lifetimes of bullying, isolation, and failed fluency training, witness the incredible transformation of five kids who stutter when they enter a groundbreaking program through SAY, The Stuttering Association. Over the course of a year of events and workshops, these young people of wildly different backgrounds experience SAY’s revolutionary mantra: it’s okay to stutter. Directed by Ryan Gielen and starring Taro Alexander.
  • RUTH – Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words – How does a person with three strikes against her rise to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court? RUTH – Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words tells the improbable story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. It also reveals both the public and private sides of a resilient, resourceful woman who has survived the hostility of the profoundly male universe of government and law to become a revered Justice and icon for gender equality and women’s rights. Directed by Freida Lee Mock and starring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Goodwin Liu, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik, Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, M.E. Freeman, Lilly Ledbetter and Kathleen Peratis.
  • The Three Drinkers Do Scotch Whisky – Packed full of humour, personality, and flavour, The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky is a drinks-focussed travelogue, where three friends embark on a road trip through Scotland. From Dufftown and Islay to Elgin and Jura, they journey through breath-taking landscapes, visiting iconic distilleries and touching on Scottish culture, tourism and traditional dishes you can’t even pronounce. This is whisky for a new, global audience, from twenty-one to ninety-one. Directed by David Agrawal. World Premiere

OTHER FILM HIGHLIGHTS

Core Competitions (previously announced)

Narrative Competition

  • Bring Me an Avocado, Directed by Maria Mealla and starring Bernardo Peña, Sarah Burkhalter, Molly Ratermann, Candace Roberts.
  • Here Awhile, Directed by Tim True and starring Anna Camp, Steven Strait, and Joe Lo Truglio. World Premiere
  • Justine, Directed by Stephanie Turner and starring Glynn Turman, Darby Stanchfield, Josh Stamberg, Daisy Prescott, and Stephanie Turner.
  • Lucky Grandma, Directed by Sasie Sealy and starring Tsai Chin, Corey Ha, Michael Tow, Woody Fu, Yan Xi, Wai Ching Ho, and Clem Cheung.
  • The Nomads, Directed by Brandon Eric Kamin and starring Tika Sumpter and Tate Donovan.
  • Run This Town, Directed by Ricky Tollman and starring Ben Platt, Mena Massoud, Nina Dobrev, Damian Lewis, Jennifer Ehle, and Scott Speedman.
  • Standing Up, Falling Down, Directed by Matt Ratner and starring Billy Crystal, Ben Schwartz, Eloise Mumford, Grace Gummer, Caitlin McGee, David Castaneda, Debra Monk, and Jill Hennessy.
  • Stealing School, Directed by Li Dong and starring Celine Tsai, Jonathan Keltz, Michelle Monteith, Mpho Koaho, Darrin Baker, Jonathan Malen, Matthew Edison, and Vas Saranga. World Premiere

Documentary Competition

  • I Am Human, Directed by Taryn Southern and Elena Gaby.
  • Latter Day Jew, Directed by Aliza Rosen.
  • Motherload, Directed by Liz Canning.
  • The Pollinators, Directed by Peter Nelson.
  • The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion, Directed by Lisa Cortes and Farah X.
  • The Story of Plastic, Directed by Deia Schlosberg.
  • This Is My Home, Directed by Karl Nickoley.
  • Well Groomed, Directed by Rebecca Stern.

Verge

  • Come As You Are, Directed by Richard Wong.
  • Greener Grass, Directed by Dawn Luebbe and Jocelyn DeBoer.
  • Hosea, Directed by Ryan Daniel Dobson. World Premiere
  • Last Call, Directed by Gavin Michael Booth.
  • Only, Directed by Takashi Doscher.
  • Speed of Life, Directed by Liz Manashil.
  • Treasure Trouble, Directed by Dan Erickson.
  • The Way You Look Tonight, Directed by John Cerrito.

Culinary Cinema

  • Breaking Bread, Directed by Beth Elise Hawk.
  • Funke, Directed by Gab Taraboulsy.
  • Nose to Tail, Directed by Jesse Zigelstein.
  • Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, Directed by Elizabeth Carroll.
  • Stage: The Culinary Internship, Directed by Abby Ainsworth.
  • A Taste of Sky, Directed by Michael Lei.

The festival will also feature Short Film Programs with:

  • 17 Narrative Shorts
  • 11 Documentary Shorts

The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) is a five-day celebration that blends the art of film, food, and wine together. Discover the best new independent films of the year, savor exquisite cuisine paired with legendary wines, and create lasting memories found only in the Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Film Festival is presented by Cinema Napa Valley, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in Napa, California. Cinema Napa Valley’s mission is to celebrate the cinematic arts and enrich the community by presenting an annual world-class festival and year-round education and outreach programs. The Napa Valley Film Festival takes place November 13-17, 2019. Visit napavalleyfilmfest.org for more information on passes and festival events.

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Presenting Sponsor: Rolls-Royce

Major Sponsor: Meadowood Napa Valley

Leading Sponsors: AVMS, Charles Krug Winery, Colorzone, DoNapa, Monogram, Raymond Vineyards, Viking Cruises, Westin Verasa Napa


Supporting Sponsors: Archer Hotel Napa, Blackbird Vineyards, Blanc Creatives, Cathay Pacific, De’Longhi, Estate Events by Meadowood, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards, Peroni Italy, The Studio by Feast It Forward, Twin Dolphin Los Cabos, Whole Foods Market, Yountville Chamber of Commerce

Media Sponsors: Travel + Leisure, Variety, Wine Spectator