‘American Fiction,’ ‘Maestro,’ ‘The Bikeriders’ Light Up Mill Valley Film Festival’s 46th Edition

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Tucked in the beautiful countryside north of San Francisco, Mill Valley has been home to artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and all sorts of dreamers. Thus it makes sense that the local film festival, celebrating 46 years, has programmed the best of the fest circuit and buzzy premieres — and mixed it up with art and music events.

The event runs Oct. 5-15, and is packed with premieres, panels, galas, honorees and concerts under the MVFF Music banner. The festival will screen 148 films from 41 countries, including 56 premieres, 86 features and 62 shorts; 45% of all films in the fest are directed by women.

The festival kicks off with Jack Huston’s “Day of the Fight,” the actor’s directorial debut that stars Michael Pitt as a washed-up prizefighter searching for redemption. Joe Pesci also stars in the poignant black and white film that bowed in Venice’s Horizons strand. “It was certainly a discovery for me. How eloquent he is and sensitive as a director, and the [sensitive] way he uses music,” says Mark Fishkin, founder and executive director of the Mill Valley Film Festival and California Film Institute. Huston is expected to make the trek to Mill Valley.

The closing night film is Bradley Cooper’s anticipated “Maestro.”

And in between, the festival rolls out other highly anticipated titles including George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin,” starring Colman Domingo as the titular civil rights leader. Wolfe will be honored with the MVFF Directing Award and will discuss the film at its premiere on Oct. 8.

Another MVV Directing Award honoree, Jeff Nichols, will be in conversation at Mill Valley on Oct. 9 in conjunction with his film “The Bikeriders,” starring Tom Hardy, Austin Butler and Jodie Comer.

Emerald Fennell will receive the Mind the Gap Award: Filmmaker of the Year, and will discuss her new film, “Saltburn,” starring Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan, on Oct. 10

Cord Jefferson presents “American Fiction” on Oct. 11. Jefferson’s debut film won the Toronto Festival’s People’s Choice Award, and he will be at MVFF to talk about the searing satire, which stars Jeffrey Wright, and accept the MVFF Award for Breakthrough Directing.

Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi, screens Oct. 11. The filmmaker will receive the MVFF Award for Filmmaking.

While Mill Valley screens the best of the fests and awards hopefuls, it does program a healthy dose of undiscovered gems as well as films from Indigenous filmmakers, including Erica Tremblay’s “Fancy Dance.” Tremblay’s drama stars “Killers of the Flower Moon’s” Lily Gladstone as a Native American hustler who, after her sister’s disappearance, kidnaps her niece (Isabel Deroy-Olson) from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact.

Another highlight for Fishkin is “The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane,” Maureen Gosling’s documentary about the singer. It will unspool at a special event at Sweetwater Hall with a special lineup of musicians, including Dane’s son from Cuba, Pablo Menendez (Mezcla), who will lead Dane’s band featuring Tammy Hall (piano), Ruth Davies (bass) and Daria Johnson (drums), with cameo appearances by Dane’s eldest son Jesse Cahn and her Cuban rockstar grandson Osamu along with Holly Near and Willie Chambers (Chambers Brothers). The event also includes video tributes and other surprises.

“I think there’s a video from Jane Fonda because Barbara was an activist at the same time as well as this incredible singer who could do folk songs and blues. She was on two different labels, that did completely different music,” Fishkin says.

Ultimately, Mill Valley and the California Film Institute focus on art and community.

“We are the California Film Institute, we own two theaters. We have a vibrant education program that serves 20,000 kids. We have a documentary festival,” says Fishkin. “Even though we’re showing the most anticipated films of the year, we have one foot in the nonprofit world and one foot in the entertainment business and the way that we work with promoting our films and talking to our members, it is all about community.”

For the full lineup of the Mill Valley Film Festival, visit mvff.com.

Source: Variety

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