It’s Wednesday morning, November 11, 2015, and Nick Ahumada approaches a theater for his first film screening at the 5th Annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF). He’s been preparing for weeks now, researching the upcoming festival’s diverse variety of films, requesting time off of work, mapping out his schedule, and gearing up for the week-long adventure. Finally the day has come, and he has a restless feeling in his stomach. “I know something special is about to happen,” he says. “It’s a bit like walking down the midway of an exotic fair or a fantastical big top circus.” Of course Nick isn’t just talking about the movies, because NVFF is so much more than a film festival.
It’s a celebration.
Each year we celebrate the love of film, food, and wine—a mutual affection that serves as the equalizer for the festivalgoers, synchronizing all of its participants with the Napa Valley community for a week out of the year. “Where else in the world can you watch a film in an airport hanger surrounded by vineyards, drinking wine, and talking with such engaging and talented filmmakers?” Co-Founder/Director Brenda Lhormer asks. “The experience is priceless, and our audiences make life long friends and memories that last forever.”
So, what does the NVFF Experience mean exactly?
“It’s all about escaping reality for a week,” Co-Founder/Artistic Director Marc Lhormer says. “Sometimes we forget how important it is to step outside of our bubbles every now and then, put down our phones and laptops, and connect more deeply with our communities.” There is a certain brand of joy that comes from sharing an experience with a group of likeminded people. It’s a phenomenon that has allowed NVFF to grow and prosper within the Napa Valley each consecutive year. It is the same joy that attracts the filmmakers, as they share the most intimate details behind their projects with festival goers like Nick. “One of the most special aspects of the Fest is the availability and willingness of the filmmakers to share their inspiration, struggles, and rewards of bringing their creations to fruition,” he says.
We watch and we listen, we laugh and we cry. And when the credits roll, the celebration continues all throughout the beautiful Napa Valley, in Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga.
So when you boil down this NVFF Experience, what exactly are the main ingredients? Is it the brilliant trifecta of film, food, and wine? Is it the stories we’re told, that open our eyes to new perspectives and inspirations? Or is it the escape from the schedules and routines we recycle throughout the year? An even better question may be: How do you describe something as intangible as the NVFF Experience?
The answer is: you don’t.
You look away from your email for a week and you live it. You embrace the fantasy, and get lost in the magic. You break ties with the mundane and prepare to entertain new ideas, flavors, and friends. But most importantly, you sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.