Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF43) Drive-In Cinema edition will launch Thursday, October 8 with the World Premiere of Edward Hall’s BLITHE SPIRIT, based on the 1941 play by Noël Coward, featuring Dame Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, and Leslie Mann.
The MVFF43 Drive-In Cinema will be located at the Lagoon Park-Marin Center in San Rafael.
The 2020 Virtual Screenings will debut with Ariel Winograd’s wildly entertaining ride through the execution of one of the greatest bank heists in Argentinian history, The Heist of the Century (El Robo Del Siglo); Alexandre Rockwell’s Sweet Thing, a stunning ode to the magical resilience of childhood; the California Premiere of Byambasuren Davaa’s Veins of the World, which follows a young Mongolian boy as he learns grief can be a source of empowerment in his quest to honor his father’s memory; the US Premiere of The Boys Who Said No!, the third in a triptych on war, resistance, and nonviolence from Oscar®-nominated Bay Area filmmaker Judith Ehrlich; and David Garrett Byars’ Public Trust, an in-depth exploration of the mounting conflict over public lands in America, which was to be the Opening Night film of the previously postponed DocLands Documentary Film Festival.
“It is my great pleasure to announce the 43rd edition of the Mill Valley Film Festival, a year when the Festival will be unlike anything we’ve presented before,” said Mark Fishkin, Mill Valley Film Festival Director/Founder. “Who would have dreamed that the world would feel so different this year? Although MVFF43 will not look the same as in previous years, what initially seemed like a challenge now feels like an opportunity to bring us together in an unexpected way, during an unprecedented time,” Fishkin stated. “We will continue to boast the year’s best films from all corners of the globe this year, professionally showcased in an online virtual cinema and at the studio grade, MVFF43 Drive-In Cinema being installed at the beautiful Lagoon Park-Marin Center in San Rafael. We are so proud to offer a wonderful variety of virtual programs, including screenings, conversations with great filmmakers, and so much more, plus ten nights of specially curated films at the MVFF43 Drive-In, as well as a full slate of DocLands films, our documentary film festival postponed from earlier this year.”
“I am also very pleased to announce the World Premiere of Blithe Spirit as the MVFF43 Opening Night Drive-In Film, in addition to several wonderful films we’ll be offering virtually on the same evening,” Fishkin continued. “Adapted from Noël Coward’s original play with an amazing cast, the film is a true delight, conveying a high-energy and “spirited” story that has withstood the test of time. Featuring an abundance of wit and a bit of fantasy, it is the perfect antidote to months of sheltering in place. Join us as we once again celebrate the magic of the movies, gathered together safely, under a screen – and sky – full of stars.”
OPENING NIGHT | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8
Drive-In Cinema | Lagoon Park-Marin Center, San Rafael
BLITHE SPIRIT – World Premiere
Edward Hall (UK 2020) 95 Minutes
Presented by IFC Films, best-selling crime novelist Charles (Dan Stevens) suffers from terrible writer’s block and is struggling to finish his first screenplay. His picture-perfect new wife Ruth (Isla Fisher) is doing her best to keep him focused so they can fulfill her dream of leaving London for Hollywood. Charles’ quest for inspiration leads him to invite the eccentric mystic Madame Acarti (Judi Dench) to perform a séance in his home. He gets more than he bargained for when Madame Acarti inadvertently summons the spirit of his first wife: the brilliant and fiery Elvira (Leslie Mann). Ready to pick up her life right where she left off, Elvira is shocked to discover the prim and proper Ruth is now married to her husband and running her household. Charles finds himself stuck between his two wives and their increasingly over-the-top attempts to outdo one another in this lethally hilarious comedy.
Virtual Cinema | MVFF Section – World Cinema
THE HEIST OF THE CENTURY (El Robo Del Siglo)
Ariel Winograd (Argentina 2020) 114 Minutes
In Spanish with English Subtitles
Buckle up for this wildly entertaining ride through the plotting, prepping, and execution of one of the greatest bank robberies in Argentinian history. Saturated with eye-popping color and infused with droll humor, director Ariel Winograd injects Hollywood heist tropes steeped in heavy doses of Tarantino and Ritchie, stylishly matching the sheer audacity of this real-life band of brothers’ ingenious criminal work. Based on the true story of the 2006 Banco Rio heist in Buenos Aires, the plot cleverly intertwines the thieves’ paths of assembling, planning, and implementing their plan to net a potential $25 million payday. The clever casting coup of Guillermo Francella (The Secret in Their Eyes) and Diego Peretti (The German Doctor, MVFF36) heightens the tale’s witty rapport, while Winograd showcases an incisive attention to detail and a mastery of suspense, set to a rockin’ score featuring Frank Sinatra, The Kinks, Andrés Calamaro, and Argentinian punkers Los Violadores y Dos Minutos. This is some electrifying risky business you don’t want to miss!
Virtual Cinema | MVFF Section – US Indie
Alexandra Rockwell (US 2020) 91 Minutes
Stunningly rendered as simultaneously nostalgic and timeless, this gorgeous lo-fi black-and-white ode to the magical resilience of childhood from veteran American indie director Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup) is a beautifully bittersweet meditation, starring Rockwell’s own children, on coming-of-age amid paucity, dysfunction, and hope. Scrappy young siblings Nico and Billie are bonded through their dreams and profound love for each other, even as they exist in an unstable world of parental neglect and alcoholism. Exhausted from shouldering the burden of their parents’ misery, these puckish outlaws take up with fellow renegade Malik, similarly abandoned by absent parents, reclaiming a wild and windswept world of discarded spaces, juxtaposed between fairy tale and real life. With intimate cinematography, lovely, lived-in performances, and an abundance of throwback charm, this wondrous film, which won the Crystal Bear at this year’s Berlinale, is a deeply optimistic testament to the poetry of adventure and the imagination of childhood.
Virtual Cinema | MVFF Section – Family Films
VEINS OF THE WORLD – California Premiere
Byambasuren Davaa (US 2020) 97 Minutes
A child of nomadic herders tending the sweeping lands of the Mongolian steppe, 11-year-old Amra dutifully helps his parents take care of their land, sheep, and goats. When his work is finished, he devours YouTube videos with his friends, dreaming of being featured as a singer on Mongolia’s Got Talent with his folk hymn “Golden Veins.” As greedy gold mining companies begin threatening the community’s traditional way of life, Amra’s father organizes an opposition group within their close-knit clan. Following a sudden, tragic accident, Amra must grow up quickly to become the protector of his family and carry on a legacy of preserving his people and their lands. Mongolian-born, German-based filmmaker Byambasuren Davaa, an Oscar® nominee for The Story of the Weeping Camel, has crafted a beautifully shot and hopeful film honoring the power of cultural heritage preservation and embracing the resistance required to defend it.
Virtual Cinema | MVFF Section – Valley of the Docs
THE BOYS WHO SAID NO! – US Premiere
Judith Ehrlich (US 2020) 90 Minutes
During unsettling times, it helps to remember how we survived past struggles. The Boys Who Said No! focuses on the nonviolent warriors who actively opposed the military draft during the Vietnam War and whose brave actions would eventually lead to the end of both the draft in the United States and the long-standing, devastating war. Offering a thorough and fascinating (recent) history lesson, Oscar®-nominated Bay Area filmmaker Judith Ehrlich (The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, MVFF32) highlights several heroes of the anti-war movement—from famous figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., musician Joan Baez, and famed resistance leader David Harris, to ordinary youth organizing sit-ins. Alongside harrowing, breathtaking news footage of the struggles at home and overseas, the film is a captivating account of a historic turning point in America, celebrating the amazing resilience of humans fighting for change and speaking truth to power.
Virtual Cinema | DocLands Section – Great Outdoors
David Garrett Byars (US 2020) 96 Minutes
One of the most important documentaries of the year, Public Trust is a film that needs to be seen by everyone who enjoys getting out in nature. Although many of us take the 640 million acres of America’s Public Lands for granted, these lands are endangered by powerful forces that are attempting the largest land grab in modern history. By focusing on the eminent destruction of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota, the downsizing of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, and the wholesale appropriation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, director David Garrett Byars enlists a slew of journalists, land historians, tribal leaders, and government whistleblowers to present a highly persuasive argument that is impossible to ignore and vital to hear. Above all else, as executive producer Robert Redford tells us, “Public Trust is the story of citizens who are fighting back. It’s a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage.”