By Deirdre Bourdet
This November heralds the launch of a new signature event for Napa Valley: The Napa Valley Film Festival. After more than five years of dreaming, festival co-chairs Brenda and Marc Lhormer announced that the Napa Valley Film Festival will debut in November 2011 with a five-day, four town extended weekend of cinematic celebration. But since 2011 is still a long way off, a three-day Launch Celebration this November gives attendees a taste of the great things in store.
Co-directors Marc and Brenda Lhormer are no strangers to the film industry, or the grueling work of planning film festivals. The couple produced and distributed the 2008 movie Bottle Shock
, inspired by the 1976 Paris Tasting, and ran the Sonoma Valley Film Festival for seven years. Marc Lhormer was kind enough to chat with me about the couple’s latest venture and the imminent launch party, which he refers to as the “amuse-bouche” for the main event next year.
The Napa Valley Film Festival has three core principles: (1) celebrating the human-scale of human existence by presenting relatable real people with real issues, and the hope that inspires us; (2) exploring multicultural differences of perspective, as well as the commonalities across cultural divides both within the U.S. and internationally; and (3) bringing the artists and the audience together for conversations about the films. Every film being screened will be represented by the directors, the cast, or both, and Q&A sessions will be the norm, not the exception. Local food and wine will feature prominently in the parties surrounding the films, of course, but this is by no means a festival of food and wine-themed movies.
nlike other destination film festivals, the Napa Valley Film Festival strives to create a healthy balance between enriching the quality of life for Napa Valley locals, and attracting visitors to the area. Admission packages will range from modestly-priced single screening tickets, to extravagant VIP packages for the entire five-day schedule of events, with many other options in between. The goal is to get people out, thinking, and talking about the films.
Pedestrian-friendly locations in Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga will host Festival events in an accessible way, and the artists will travel with their films between the host towns to maximize visitor participation in the event.
The Launch Celebration for the inaugural 2011 Festival will take place November 12th-14th of this year, as part of the month-long series of art and cultural events coordinated by Napa Valley Arts 2010. Friday the 12th, Cameo Cinema in St. Helena will present the Napa Valley premiere of RABBIT HOLE, starring Academy Award® winners Nicole Kidman and Dianne Wiest, and Golden Globe® nominee Aaron Eckhart. St. Helena’s Caldwell Snyder Gallery will host a pre-screening cheese and wine reception beginning at 4pm, featuring wines by Salvestrin, cheese by Robert Deakins (courtesy of Oliver’s Market), and water by Volcanic. At 5pm, the Cameo Cinema will open its doors for a pre-screening wine reception featuring the wines of Astrale e Terre. Tickets for the 5:30pm premiere are $30 per person, but include admission to both pre-screening parties. Tickets for the 8:30pm encore screening of the film are $20 per person, and include admission to the 8:00 wine reception at Cameo Cinema.
Saturday the 13th offers a real taste of the film festival at the Napa Valley Opera House in downtown Napa. Three full length features (with all three directors in attendance), pre-screening wine receptions at the Opera House featuring wines by Raymond Vineyards, the 10:30pm after-party hosted by Oenotri restaurant and the Gordon Huether Gallery, and the 1am after-after-party at John Anthony Vineyards ensure twelve hours of pure entertainment. Tickets are $15 per screening, $25 for the after-party, or $35 for one screening plus the after-party. Details on all three films (RABBIT HOLE, THE HAPPY POET, and BLUE VALENTINE) are on the event website.
Sunday winds down with a 4:30 pm pre-screening wine reception at the Opera House, featuring the wines of the Terlato Wine Group, and a 5:30pm Napa premiere of I AM with director/subject Tom Shadyac in attendance.
To learn more about the 2011 Festival schedule, and the 2010 launch weekend, Marc advises joining the mailing list through the event website, www.napavalleyfilmfest.org