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.
“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.
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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