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Monday, September 22, 2014

Mill Valley Film Festival: Full of Humor, Spanish Movies, Guests, and Possible Oscar Contenders

Posted By on Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Wild with Reese Witherspoon - COURTESY OF THE MVFF
  • Courtesy of the MVFF
  • Wild with Reese Witherspoon

The Mill Valley Film Festival has screened five out of the last six Academy Award winners (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, The Artist, Argo, and 12 Years a Slave), so when the festival’s founder and director, Mark Fishkin, says it has the ambiance of a destination festival, but the clout of an urban one, that’s not just hyperbole.

In its 37th year, the festival kicks off with not one, but two, opening night movies – The Homesman directed by Tommy Lee Jones and starring Jones and Hillary Swank and Men, Women and Children, by Jason Reitman. Fishkin called the first a sort of anti-Western with a feminist perspective, and Zoe Elton, director of programming, said the second was about “the isolation of being connected.” Swank and Reitman will attend the screenings. 
click to enlarge Zoe Elton and Mark Fishkin - COURTESY OF MVFF
  • Courtesy of MVFF
  • Zoe Elton and Mark Fishkin

The festival focuses on a few different things this year — Latino and Spanish movies with Vive El Cine!, The Art of the Sciences, and Humor- In the Jocular Vein. And this year's artists in residence? Metallica, of course. Each member of the band has picked a film to introduce and discuss, with Kirk Hammett hosting Dracula vs. Frankenstein; Robert Trujillo with Jaco, a documentary about jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius; Lars Ulrich selecting the indie feature Whiplash; and James Hetfield going for the Clint Eastwood classic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Elle Fanning will be spotlighted, along with a screening of  Low Down, with her as a teenager in Los Angeles in the '70s with John Hawkes as her father and Glenn Close as her grandmother. Fishkin said Fanning was a rare talent, but he didn’t want to make comparisons so as not to get expectations up. Then he stage whispered, “Meryl Streep.”

click to enlarge The Homesman - COURTESY OF MVFF
  • Courtesy of MVFF
  • The Homesman
The festival also honors the life of comedian Robin Williams, a Marin resident, with a free event that includes footage from his appearance at the MVFF with his mentor Jonathan Winters, and a MVFF trailer where Williams, played a film critic, interviewed himself.

On closing night, Wild based on Cheryl Strayed ‘s best-selling memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest trail after her mother’s death, screens. The movie stars Reese Witherspoon, who optioned the rights to the film before the book was published.

The 37th Mill Valley Film Festival runs Oct. 2 through Oct. 12 at various theaters in Marin. Ticket prices vary. For information and tickets, call 877-874-6833 or visit the festival’s website
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Emily Wilson

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