“The Napa Valley Film Festival”, November 11- 15, 2015, celebrated its fifth year in grand style. The “NVFF”, which has quickly become a worthy contender to the art of film festivals, grows exponentially each year and is truly a force to be reckoned with. As a wonder-filled, stand-out, “triple-threat” event, it’s no wonder given the landscape of activities that surround, delight, and infuse this celebration of cinematic excellence in new independent films and the making of them, It has quickly captured the hearts of many. While attending the traditional celebrity tributes, opening and closing night galas, special panels/discussions, and award ceremonies, here audiences are also invited to sample the wines of local vineyards and taste culinary creations of local chefs and restaurants before, during, and after each screening; all while enjoying the humble and welcoming communities of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga’s pastoral countrysides.
“Napa Valley Film Festival 2015″, directed and co-founded by Marc and Brenda Lhormer, showcased 120 of this year’s best independent films. They were screened in 12 theaters in the four communities with over 400 film-makers in attendance and was sponsored by, Lexus Short Films, Meadowood, Sony, Stella Artois, among many others. Starting with an opening night featuring the highly anticipated sequel to ” Somm”, the world premiere of “Somm: Into the Bottle”, with writer/director Jason Wise and several Master Sommelier cast members for Q&A, followed by a gala, river front, wine and food tasting party complete with cast members of this beautifully appropriate festival documentary.
The Celebrity Tribute honored several Hollywood Stars who were on hand to participate in the festivities. Highlighted honors were given to, John Travolta (Legendary Actor Tribute), Keegan-Michael Key (Trailblazer Tribute), and Lydia Hearst, Evan Peters and Finn Wittrock (Rising Star Tribute). Bruce Dern (Legendary Actor Tribute) and Zoe Kazan (Rising Star Tribute) accepting their awards via video messages. The five day festival featured exciting panels on film-making, documentary film producing, a pitch competition where brave writers and hopeful film-makers have a chance to offer a new idea before professional producers in hopes of being chosen for a green light development deal, and a special culinary demonstration. “The Variety 10 to Taste”, sponsored by the Food Network and Cooking Channel, celebrated ten local Chefs who recreated famous food scenes from iconic movies, such as: Julie and Julia and Pulp Fiction. The infamous Chef, Bobby Flay, was on hand along with actress Emilie de Ravin; writer/director, Kevin Pang; and “Southern Wine & Spirits”, Lee Schrager to panel a discussion of culinary trends, and the role or character food plays in film.
The Gala Bash on Thursday night, November 12, 2015, held at the 1,200 seat Lincoln Theater of the Veterans Home of California- Yountville, was reminiscent of New York’s, “Studio 54” in its hay day, sans drugs of course. The entire Veterans Theater- stage, back-stage, dressing and green-rooms, lobbies, and loading docks were turned into one big continuous party featuring exciting music, dance, wine, local chef tastings, gourmet ice cream, even a free cigar bar; and was accompanied by local single or group performers at every turn.
As with all film festivals the award ceremony and its following gala wrap up the week’s event. However, once again, the “Napa Valley Film Festival” has a unique twist on the award prizes given. Here each festival winner receives a huge, as in very large, format wine bottle from an esteemed Vintner Circle winery partner along with a few cash prizes. The $10,000 cash prizes are awarded to the Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature and are presented by Meadowood of Napa Valley. To view the list this year’s award winners please visit: http://napavalleyfilmfest.org/reel-talk/features/2015-award-winners
There are few film festivals in California that feature quiet sophisticated elegance and ease-of-mind fests. While many of the larger film festivals feel rushed, crowded, often limited and over-excitement driven, “The Palm Springs International Film Festival”, “Dances with Films Festival”, and the much younger “Napa Valley Film Festival”, are top choices for style, comfort, and accessibility.
The most impressive part of the “Napa Valley Film Festival” is in its community; a sophisticated, non-stuffy, laid-back elegance of friendly welcoming people who take pride in celebrating good food, fine wine, and great movies.
The “Napa Valley Film Festival” runs annually; so check out the website for “NVFF2016” and don’t miss this wonderful “quiet-fire” event before it grows so huge that attending may prove difficult. It is still a best discovery in California film festivals. To attend or for more information about Napa Valley Film Festival, please visit: http://napavalleyfilmfest.org/