The sixth annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), scheduled to take place November 9 – 13, announced its Narrative and Documentary Feature Film lineups for juried competition.
The 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 Artistsin-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).
This year’s Awards Ceremony where Juried and Audience Awards will be presented takes place on Saturday, November 12 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Juried Awards, decided by three jurors on each of the five juries, include Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short, Best Lounge Feature and Best Lounge Short (from a collection of bolder, edgier films), Best Ensemble Cast, Best Screenplay, and Special Jury Prizes. Audience Awards include Favorite Narrative Feature, Favorite Narrative Short, Favorite Documentary Feature, Favorite Documentary Short, Favorite Short Feature, Favorite Actress and Favorite Actor. Each winner will be presented a large format collectible bottle of wine from one of the festival’s Vintner Circle members. Additionally, the winners of the Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature will each receive $10,000 courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley.
NARRATIVE FEATURES COMPETITION
11:55 – Nelson “Nelly” Sanchez has run out of time. After being honorably discharged from the United States Marines, Nelly returns to his economically depressed home-town where he is joyously received by the family and friends he left behind a few years earlier in an effort to escape the consequences of his violent past. Over the course of a single celebratory evening, Nelly comes face to face with those consequences once again. Directed by Ari Issler and Ben Snyder. Northern California Premiere.
American Fable – American Fable is a fairytale thriller set in the 1980s rural Midwest about a courageous girl living in a dark and sometimes magical world. When 11-year-old Gitty discovers that her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man (Richard Schiff) in her family’s silo in order to save their struggling farm, she is forced to choose between saving the man’s life or protecting her family from the consequences of their actions. Directed by Anne Hamilton. Northern California Premiere
The Book of Love – Introverted architect Henry (Jason Sudeikis) and his quirky artist wife Penny (Jessica
Biel) are expecting their first child. When tragedy strikes, suddenly alone Henry quits his job and mopes
around the house, taking passing notice of a young homeless girl (Maisie Williams) rooting around in the
trash outside. Reminded of a promise he made to his wife, Henry helps the girl build a raft designed to
weather a transatlantic crossing. Directed by Bill Purple. West Coast Premiere
Folk Hero & Funny Guy – Jason (Wyatt Russell), a charismatic and successful singer-songwriter, reaches out to reconnect with his estranged pal Paul (Alex Karpovsky) who is struggling to develop his career as a stand-up comedian. After a night out together, Paul somewhat reluctantly agrees to join Jason’s upcoming solo tour as his opening act, but quickly comes to realize that his new gig is not at all what he had anticipated it would be. Directed by Jeff Grace. California Premiere
Heaven’s Floor – Desperate for more meaning in her life, elite photographer Julia (Clea Duvall) sets off on a journey to the Canadian Arctic. The exhilarating adventure suddenly morphs into a life-threatening disaster when Julia finds herself alone, ill-equipped, and stranded on sea ice. Enter Malaya, an eleven-year old orphaned Inuit girl and her uncle who rescue Julia and open the door to the unique and mysterious Inuit world. Directed by Lori Stoll.
I Love You Both – Krystal and Donny, a pair of co-dependent twins still living together in their late 20s, confront a unique new challenge when they both starting dating the same man. When “new guy” eventually has to choose between the two of them, Krystal and Donny struggle to come to terms with the fact that life as they’ve always known it has come to an end. Starring real life siblings and story creators Doug and Kristin Archibald. Directed by Doug Archibald.
Little Boxes – An interracial family struggles to adjust after relocating from New York City to a small, predominantly white town in Washington State. For Clark, it’s the summer before sixth grade, and he quickly finds that as the new-in-town bi-racial kid, in order to be cool he needs to act more “black.” Meanwhile, his urban intellectual parents, Mack (Nelsan Ellis) and Gina (Melanie Lynskey), also struggle to adjust to small town living. Directed by Rob Meyer. California Premiere
Love is All You Need? – Love is All You Need? presents an alternative reality in which same sex couples make up the majority and heterosexual couples are the closeted minority. When the local university’s female star quarterback’s romantic relationship with a male journalist is discovered, their friends and loved ones are left in shock, followed by outrage. Intolerance unchecked can tear relationships and communities apart. Directed by Kim Rocco Shields.
Sticky Notes – Athena (Rose Leslie), an emotionally detached backup dancer living in Los Angeles, returns to Florida to take care of her estranged father, Jack (Ray Liotta), after he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. First time feature director Amanda Sharp does a beautiful job portraying the shifting power dynamics and emotions between a parent and child struggling to find common ground after years apart. Directed by Amanda Sharp. West Coast Premiere
Two For One – Urban artist James Maxwell (Jon Abrahams) has his world upturned when the tragic events of 9/11 take the lives of his two best friends (Scott Caan and Lydia Hearst). James accepts guardianship of the couple’s young daughters who have nowhere else to go. Years later, the grind of living in NYC proves to be too much. James takes the girls to Buffalo, where this ‘non-traditional’ family has to adjust to a radically different lifestyle. Directed by Jon Abrahams. Northern California Premiere
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES COMPETITION
Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race and America – Daryl Davis is an accomplished musician who has played all over the world with various legends. But he also has an unusual hobby: Daryl likes to meet and befriend members of the KKK, many of whom have never met a person of color. We watch in fascination as Daryl attempts to answer a question he’s been asking his whole life: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Directed by Matt Ornstein. Northern California Premiere
Big Sonia – For decades, nonagenarian Sonia Warshawski has been an inspirational public speaker in places where her stories of surviving the Holocaust have inspired countless individuals who once felt their own traumas would leave them broken forever. But when Sonia receives an eviction notice for her classic tailor shop, she is confronted with an agonizing decision: whether to open a new shop elsewhere or to finally retire. Directed by Leah Warshawski and Charles Todd Soliday. World Premiere
Colin Hay: Waiting for My Real Life – Colin Hay: Waiting for My Real Life chronicles the inspiring personal and artistic journey of the singer-songwriter and former Men At Work front man. We ride shotgun tracing the surprisingly swift rise to superstardom of Men At Work, to that band’s equally surprising and rapid demise, to Colin’s long, slow climb back to relevance and resonance, ever finding salvation through song. Directed by Nate Gowtham and Aaron Faulls.
Ear Buds: The Podcasting Documentary – The bond that forms between avid fan and zealous podcaster is unlike any other, as the experience of listening to one of thousands of available podcasts can feel very personal, almost one on one. With Ear Buds, director Graham Elwood navigates the incredibly raw storytelling behind this evolving medium and opens a window into the future of how we view human connection. Directed by Graham Elwood. Northern California Premiere
Farewell Ferris Wheel – The traveling summer carnival has been a much loved tradition for children and families for over a century. The beating heart of this classic entertainment experience is a diligent workforce of Mexican migrant workers, legally employed with the controversial H-2B guest worker visa. Farewell Ferris Wheel deftly balances the challenges facing carnival operators with the aspirations of the Mexican workers. Directed by Jamie Sisley and Miguel M.i.G. Martinez. Northern California Premiere
God Knows Where I Am – After her early release from a state psychiatric hospital, Linda Bishop was determined to remain free of the system. But instead of reaching out to her family, she wandered ten miles down the road, broke into an abandoned farmhouse, and lived off of rainwater and apples for the next four months during one of the coldest New Hampshire winters on record. Directed by Todd Wider and Jedd Wider. Northern California Premiere
Magicians: Life in the Impossible – Magicians introduces us to four world-class practitioners of the dark arts. The film follows them on stage and off, exploring how and why these very different characters passionately dedicate their lives to the artistry and craft of illusion. We come to discover that far more fascinating than the magic are the magicians themselves. Directed by Marcie Hume and Christoph Baaden. Northern California Premiere
Magnificent Burden – Former Manhattan socialite Taylor Stein becomes entangled in an international baby trafficking ring and reluctantly goes undercover for the FBI to save a little boy. When a terrible discovery threatens the boy’s life, Taylor is thrust into the world of genetic technology and a high-stakes battle between Big Pharma, Congress, and saving the lives of children diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Directed by Rob Nelson. Northern California Premiere
Swim Team – What would you do if your community and its schools gave up on your child? In New Jersey, the parents of one autistic boy take matters into their own hands by forming a competitive swim team, recruiting multi-ethnic autistic teens and training them with high expectations and zero pity. What happens next alters the course of these youngsters’ lives, and will change what you think about their possible futures. Directed by Lara Stolman. Northern California Premiere
Until 20 – Imagine that at age thirteen you were diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, and told that you had no chance of living until twenty. This was the horrifying reality for James Ragan, who turned devastating odds into a personal mission to do one good thing a week for someone else. In his own voice, Until 20 is James’s journey as a promising NCAA D1 golfer trying to save the life of the next unfortunate child. Directed by Geraldine Moriba and Jamila Paksima.