There is a crisp chill in the air, the leaves are starting to change, and while some are thinking of Pumpkin Spice and cozy sweaters, the people of Napa Valley have two different things on their mind: harvest, and of course, the Napa Valley Film Festival. When the vineyards explode with fall colors, it’s a sign: the filmmakers are coming.
For five days, the four walkable villages of Napa Valley are transformed into a mecca for independent film fanatics, foodies and wine lovers. Between Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, there are 13 unique venues set up for film screenings. Some venues are established performing arts centers and movie theaters such as the Cameo Cinema in St. Helena, which has been in operation since 1913 (yes, really!); other locations include an old airplane hangar, a cooking school, a local jazz club and winery barrel rooms that are transformed into state of the art pop-up theaters.
This year there are over 120 new independent (and sneak preview) films programmed to fill those screens. The Festival will play host to an incredible selection of films, including many of this year’s award-contenders, like The Weinstein Company’s Lion (featuring performances by Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel), which will be this year’s Opening Night film, and Open Road Films’ Bleed for This (starring Aaron Eckhart and Miles Teller). As the perfect bookend to the festival, the independent documentary Pisco Punch: A Cocktail Comeback Story will serve as the Closing Night film. The 2016 film lineup also includes heartfelt and entertaining new films starring Eddie Murphy (Mr. Church), Christina Applegate, Frank Langella and Billy Crudup (Youth in Oregon), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Vera Farmiga and Jacob Tremblay (Burn Your Maps), to name a few.
The narrative films selected for Juried and Audience competition feature actors such as Jessica Biel, Scott Caan, Clea Duvall, Rose Leslie, Ray Liotta, Wyatt Russell, Alex Karpovsky, Richard Schiff, Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams and more. The documentary films are captivating and inspiring as well, and the short films are always some of the more buzzed-about movies at the festival. These 20 films in NVFF’s core competition categories will vie for the titles of Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature, as determined by the juries. The directors of these films participate in NVFF’s unique Artists-in-Residence Program that includes a six-night stay at the luxury resort Meadowood Napa Valley. The residency includes master classes with industry leaders and networking opportunities with their peers and festival patrons at lavish receptions and winemaker dinners. Past Faculty for the Artists-in-Residence Program have included composer Carter Burwell, writer-director Atom Egoyan, producer Nicolas Gonda, producer Ted Hope (Amazon Studios), indie film distributor Kevin Iwashina, producer Michael de Luca, executive producer John Sloss (Cinetic Media) and producer Christine Vachon (Killer Films).
The Celebrities Are Coming, Too
Notable celebrities expected to attend include Jessica Biel, Ian Bohen, Josh Charles, Aaron Eckhart, Gordon Getty, Meredith Hagner, Katie Holmes, Sam Huntington, Sam Jaeger, Alex Karpovsky, Rose Leslie, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Joel David Moore, Matt Ross, Wyatt Russell, Madeline Zima and many more. Keep checking nvff.org for more updates. The beauty about the Napa Valley Film Festival is how easy it is to share in the red carpet moments, and get up close and personal with some of the biggest stars attending the event. The Celebrity Tributes will be held on Thursday, November 10 at 6:00pm, at the glorious Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Access Hollywood’s Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover will host this entertaining program honoring Chloe Grace Moretz and Dev Patel (Raymond Vineyards Trailblazer Tributes), Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell (Chandon Rising Stars). This year’s Spotlight Tribute recipient is Viggo Mortensen. The Charles Krug Legendary Filmmaker and Actor Tributes will be presented to acclaimed filmmaker Lee Daniels and actor Kurt Russell, respectively.
A Preview of Some of the Special Screenings
The Whinnies! Best of Equine Film – a special line up of films that inspire, inform, celebrate and advocate for the horse/human partnership. This year the program expands with two short features, His Name is Midnight and From the Kill Pen, and the full length documentary, The Caravan Film.
Generosity of Eye –Julia Louis-Dreyfus tells her personal story about her father, his art collection, and his decision to donate the collection to support Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.
Strike A Pose – the fascinating documentary about Madonna’s dancers who recount their journey through the Like A Virgin Tour during the AIDS crisis. 25 years later, the talented dancers peel back layers of time and concealing fictions to reveal the truth about life during and after the tour. Strike a Pose is a dramatic tale about overcoming shame and finding the courage to be who you are.
Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story – a film about the famously obsessive and brilliant chef from Moto in Chicago. At the age of 27, Chef Homaro Cantu helped put Chicago on the culinary map when he opened his groundbreaking restaurant Moto. Filmed over a period of three years, Brett Schwartz’s Insatiable takes us deep inside Cantu’s personality, history, talents and motivations, picking up the story at a pivotal moment in Cantu’s career when he shifts from avant-garde celebrity chef to idealistic humanitarian.
Marinoni: Fire in the Frame – a look at the life of Giuseppe Marinoni who found his calling when he transitioned from champion cyclist to master bike craftsman and then challenged himself to ride again and attempt a world record at 75 years of age. Giuseppe will be in attendance with director Tony Girardin.
Winning – a film about what it takes to win big; featuring world champion athletes Nadia Comaneci, Edwin Moses, Martina Navratilova and Jack Nicklaus. Through candid interviews and footage of their most exciting championship moments, Winning explores the passions, inspirations and habits of athletes competing and achieving at the highest levels.
See the rest of our program lineup at nvff.org/on-screen
Food, Wine and Parties
The filmmakers may be coming, but the food and wine were already here. To make each day and night more delectable, the festival showcases the best food, chefs and wine throughout the festival, which adds to the lively interaction between audiences, filmmakers and celebrities and the richness of the conversations. It’s laid back, inspiring, fun and addictive. There is no other festival, or any event for that matter, that offers attendees the opportunity to taste as many hard-to-find and cult wines, for no extra fee. All passholders are invited to sample 10-15 wines every afternoon from Thursday through Sunday between 3:00pm – 5:00pm in the festival Wine Pavilions in the Village Centers of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Wine flows freely for attendees on a break from the movies, and the energy is infectious.
Variety’s 10 to Taste, presented by Food Network and Cooking Channel will be back again this year on Thursday, November 10 at the NVFF Culinary Stage at the Napa Riverfront. At this foodie-favorite event, ten local student chefs cook and share dishes inspired by iconic food scenes in the movies and pair them with Terlato Family Wineries selections. An esteemed panel of celebrities will taste and then sit down to discuss the creations, current culinary trends and the role of food in film. Chef Tyler Florence heads the panel, moderated by Variety’s Carole Horst. Afterwards, stick around to enjoy lively and educational culinary demonstrations happening on the NVFF Culinary Stage Thursday through Sunday.
And the parties never end. There’s the Opening Night VIP party at Ottimo!, hosted by Chef Michael Chiarello; Opening Night Indian Springs pool party for filmmakers and attendees with a Pass Plus; the raging Friday Night Martin Bash in St. Helena; the over-the-top Festival Gala that follows the Awards Ceremony on Saturday; a casual celebration at Eiko’s in Napa on Saturday night; and Closing Night Wrap Party in Napa, following the world premiere of the film Pisco Punch: A Cocktail Comeback Story that celebrates our shared humanity, Pisco, the spirit’s connection and history with San Francisco, and Peruvian culture. At this final festival event, famous chefs and bartenders from San Francisco share the stage and invite guests to sample Peruvian bites, local favorites, Pisco cocktails, Stella Artois, and Napa Valley’s finest wines.
Ways to Experience the Festival
Festival Pass | $295 (Buy 4 or more for $265 per pass)
The Festival Pass is for the film aficionado who wants access to all regular film screenings throughout the festival. Also enjoy access to the Wine Pavilions in each Village Center and the Napa Riverfront, including the Culinary Stage also at the Napa Riverfront. Passholder perks are available to all passholders.
Pass Plus | $645 (Buy 4 or more for $615 per pass)
The Pass Plus offers everything included with the Festival Pass with the important added benefit of PRIORITY ACCESS at film screenings before Festival Pass and Day Pass holders. Also enjoy access to the Awards Ceremony and Festival Gala, Celebrity Tributes, Friday Night Bash at Martin, and the Wrap Party.
Join the Patron Circle (largely tax-deductible):
For a genuine, beyond-the-velvet rope VIP experience, consider joining our Patron Circle: first in line access to all screenings and events, and invitations to the First Look Preview Party, Opening Night VIP Party, A-Lister and Movie Mogul Dinner, VIP lounges at events, Vintner Circle Dinners, and more. Our Patron Circle offers three levels of access and indulgence.
Patron – the essential VIP experience | $2,500 ($1,750 tax deductible)
A-Lister – the elevated VIP experience | $5,000 ($4,000 tax deductible)
Movie Mogul – the ultimate VIP experience | $25,000 ($20,000 tax deductible)
Limited Budget, Limited Time:
Join us Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the same access and benefits as a Festival Pass, but with a more concentrated experience. Note: afternoon wine pavilions begin on Thursday.
Midweek Pass | $125
(Buy 4 or more for $105 per pass; buy 10 or more for just $85 per pass)
The same access and benefits as a Festival Pass, but with a more concentrated single-day experience. Choose Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday. And if attending on Saturday, consider adding the Awards Ceremony and Festival Gala at a very special package price.
Friday Day Pass | $85 – Join us on Veterans Day
(Buy 4 for $65 per pass; buy 10 or more for just $55 per pass)
Saturday Day Pass | $99 – Our most popular day
(no volume discounts)
Saturday Special Combo: Day Pass, Awards Ceremony & Festival Gala | $299
(make it a day and night you will treasure forever)
Sunday Day Pass | $75 – Catch award-winning films and performances
(Buy 4 or more for $65 per pass; by 10 or more for just $55 per pass)
Rush Tickets | $15 (special pricing on Tuesday, November 8 – $5)
For those with limited time or a desire for a small taste of the festival experience, rush tickets can be a great way to go. $15 rush tickets can be purchased at theater doors, if seats are still available after passholders have been admitted. Don’t forget about the $5 rush tickets available only on Sneak Preview Day, Tuesday, November 8!
Advance Tickets for Special Events
Our largest events are included with Patron Circle memberships and the Pass Plus. For select events, a limited number of tickets may be available for advance purchase. Check nvff.org for availability.
Celebrity Tributes | $50 per person (2 for $90, 4 for $160)
Festival Gala | $225 per person (2 for $400, 4 for $700)
Awards Ceremony & Festival Gala | $250 per person (2 for $450, 4 for $800)
Saturday Day Pass, Awards Ceremony & Festival Gala | $299 per person
Wrap Party | $25 per person
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then our highlight reel from 2015 speaks volumes. Get a glimpse of what the Napa Valley Film Festival experience looks like:
It’s more than a festival, it’s the ultimate film, food and wine experience. There is an interconnectivity that electrifies every aspect of the festival; the films are curated for their ability to inspire conversation, and conversation is best had over Napa Valley’s finest wines. The food brings out the best in the wine, the wine invites the best of the films to be discussed and celebrated, and the films bring out the best in all of us through powerful story telling.
See you at the movies!