Forget Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, and Sundance. We’ll always have Mill Valley.


The highest profile film festivals around the world are huge with tens of thousands of people fighting to get in to see the movies. I’ve been to all of them and you can stand in line for hours in hopes of grabbing a seat. And then halfway through the movie you want to leave because it’s so terrible.
The beauty of festivals like the Mill Valley and San Francisco International Film Festivals is that the programming teams have been traveling to those other festivals to seek out the best from each of them and curate a terrific selection for you.

Mill Valley 40 opens this week with a selection of World and North American premieres but it is the films you have never heard about that are the discoveries that can make it a revelatory experience.  As always there are a lot of strong non-fiction works gathered under the name “Valley of the Docs.” 44% of this year’s movies were made by and/or focus on women. They have been gathered under the banner of “Mind the Gap.” There are Tributes, panels and young audience programs. And as always expect plenty of films about music plus live performances. Active Cinema features movies that explore the world and its issues, engage audiences, and transform society. ¡VIVA EL CINE! showcases eight award-winning Spanish language and Latin American films.

The Festival plays through Sunday, October 15, 2017.

Many of the movies have been reviewed from other festivals. An Internet search should bring you at least a couple of articles from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Screen, and Indiewire. This will help you make informed choices.

The high profile movies are terrific but most of them will open in theaters within the next two months. We will see a few here but mostly will be looking for films we might never see elsewhere. Plus we enjoy the chance to meet the filmmakers, many of whom have traveled here for the festivities and love talking with audiences both at Q&As and informally.

EatDrinkFilms is proud to present the following wonderful movies at the Festival. And we have some free tickets to give away. See instructions below.

Andre: The Voice of Wine tells the story of Andre Tchelistcheff, the “dean of American wine,” a Russian émigré who unexpectedly, and quite literally, revolutionized the Napa wine industry. Director Mark Tchelistcheff, Andre’s grandnephew, captures this singular artist’s epic journey from the Russian revolution to a career of uncompromising passion that influenced the world’s most important winemakers. Director Mark Tchelistcheff in attendance at all screenings. Tickets

Monday, Oct. 9 at 6:45 PM in CinéArts Sequoia

Friday, Oct. 13 at 1 PM in Smith Rafael Film Center

Saturday, Oct. 14 at 6:15 PM in Lark Theater


Watch trailer here.

Love, Cecil has no shortage of juicy tales, including trysts with Greta Garbo and several famous rivalries. Narrated by Rupert Everett and featuring interviews with Isaac Mizrahi and Leslie Caron, this vivacious documentary provides an inside look into the private and professional life of celebrated photographer and fashion designer Cecil Beaton. Focusing on his larger-than-life personality. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland in attendance. Tickets

Saturday, Oct. 7 at 6 PM at CinéArts Sequoia


Quest brings the streets of Berkeley alive – an intense, lyrical coming-of-age story based on real events. It’s 1995, and middle school graffiti artist Mills is already on the road to nowhere—until he meets a teacher who connects with the lost youth. With passionate performances, this turbulent tale mixes penetrating scenes of heartbreak with funny, real moments of human connection. Director Santiago Rizzo and talent, including Lou Diamond Phillips, in attendance. Tickets

Saturday, Oct. 14 at 3: 45 PM at Century Larkspur

Sunday, Oct. 15 at 2:15 PM at Smith Rafael Film Center

Faces, Places (Visages, Villages) joins two singular artists—film auteur Agnès Varda and street photographer JR—traveling together for an extraordinary journey. This is a brilliant film from one of cinema’s most visionary talents, a pioneer in the French New Wave movement, whose openness in her conversations with another original—JR—brings us an extraordinarily layered portrait: of two artists, of two generations, of the people they encounter. In French with English subtitles. Tickets

Friday, Oct. 6 at 6 PM at Smith Rafael Film Center

Sunday, Oct. 15 at 11 AM at CinéArts Sequoia

Arrangiarsi: Pizza & the Art of Living has Matteo Troncone searches for the meaning of life from Mill Valley to Naples in the engaging, intimate documentary  Combining a healthy smattering of his passion for food, intense Italian history, and quirky Neapolitans, this delightful film tells the tale of one man’s journey to find himself, and the greatest pizza on earth. Director Matteo Troncone in attendance at all screenings. In English and Italian with English subtitles. Tickets

Sunday, Oct. 8 at 5:30 PM at Smith Rafael Film Center
Thursday, Oct. 12 at 11:30 AM at CinéArts Sequoia
Friday, Oct. 13 at 3:!5 PM at Century Larkspur

EatDrinkFilms is pleased to offer pairs of tickets to the films we are presenting on the following days:

Andre: The Voice of Wine – Monday, Oct. 9 at 6:45 PM

Arrangiarsi: Pizza & the Art of Living – Thursday, Oct. 12 at 11:30 AM

Faces, Places – Sunday, Oct. 15 at 11 AM

Quest – Saturday, Oct. 14 at 3:45 PM

To qualify for a random drawing please send your entry with the film of your choice in the Subject line to no later than 48 hours before the screening. Winners will be chosen at random and sent your two tickets to print out or bring on your phone.


Changing-the-Rafael-marquee_small.jpgThere are many more films we suggest you consider. Some we have seen and others we plan to see. The yellow printed program guide has some incorrect showtimes and running times. Check the online guide for the most accurate information and last minute additions. The links to titles takes you to the MVFF website with descriptions, showings and ticket purchase.


From this MVFF 40 alphabetical list you can find out show times and locations for those of interest to you. (Most of these descriptions are courtesy of MVFF.)



5@5 is a series of short films programmed to make a feature length show of exciting new work. There are ten different shows of fiction and non-fiction, including by and about teens, classics from past festivals and a variety of themes.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown stars Bill Pullman as a merciless cowboy who sets out on a dangerous journey across the frontier, determined to do whatever it takes to avenge his longtime partner’s brutal murder. Also starring Jim Caviezel and Peter Fonda.


Bill Frisell, A Portrait is a terrific look at the career of the jazz and folk guitarist/ composer/ arranger with insight and music. If you are fan you will not want to miss this and if you are new to the music of Frisell, Emma Franz’s film will make you a fan.

Ciao Ciao Young, restless, and permanently attached to her cellphone, this twentysomething city dweller is stuck killing time in her backwater birthplace in the Yunnan province of China. Out of sheer boredom, she starts to flirt with two men.


The Cousin is a serious comedy. Naftaly, a middle-aged TV actor and writer) sets out one morning to pick up the Israeli Arab day laborer he’s hired to spruce up his home office. This commonplace act of economic opportunism triggers an escalating succession of misunderstandings that upends the sun-kissed equilibrium of Naftaly’s low-key suburban life.


Dealt– You may have seen the blind magician on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us or online video and now we get to know how he became a card mechanic. You will be amazed and inspired.

The Deep Sky – Lenora and Arlan, a Bay Area couple who are as cerebral as they are empathic, navigate the decision to start a romantic relationship with enough intentionality to give themselves confidence that if any two people can make non-monogamy work, they can.

The Desert Bride – A reserved woman finds her horizons and worldview subtly transformed during a journey across rural western Argentina in this warm and delicate film. Paulina García (Gloria, MVFF 2013) gives another fantastic performance.

The Divine Order – This uplifting drama follows women in a Swiss village in 1970 as they fight against the men—and some of the other town women-to get the right to vote. It is kind of shock to realize that it was not so long ago in what many of us think was an enlightened country that women believed their lives should be relegated to taking care of their family and nothing else.

Esteban -There must be more to life than selling small containers of shampoo, conditioner, and packs of tampons to strangers on the streets of Havana. So believes Esteban, a nine-year old Cuban schoolboy, who becomes mesmerized by the sounds of an intricate piano melody wafting through a window on one of his after-school sales routes.

A Fantastic Woman – When we first meet Marina—the complex, tender, and determined title character in this masterful new drama by Sebastián Lelio (Gloria, MVFF 2013)—she is working as a waitress, pursuing singing on the side, and deeply in love with an older man who loves her in return. All in all, she is entering a confident phase of her life as a mature, well-adjusted transgender woman.

The Florida Project– The Magic Castle Motel is the tattered safety net for Orlando families verging on homelessness, a world away from Disneyworld’s glittering attractions just across town. But for precocious, six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), the inn and its surrounding neighborhood hold their own enchantment as her gritty, personal amusement park. From the director of Tangerine.

The Human Flow – Ai Wei Wei investigates the impact of recent large-scale human migrations—forced by war, ethnic cleansing, and other threats of violent collateral damage—on the migrants themselves. The stories and struggles emerge amidst often stunning images—from gorgeous blue Mediterranean waters to sprawling desert camps and heavily policed barbed wire borders.

In Syria -Amid sounds of gunfire and shelling, an extended family wakes up to another morning in war-torn Damascus, the only remaining residents in a middle-class apartment building commandeered by combatants and thugs.

The Insult – A minor disagreement sparks an unforgivable insult, which ignites a confrontation of national importance in this riveting courtroom drama by Lebanese writer-director Ziad Doueiri (The Attack, MVFF 2012).

The Long Shadow – A daughter of the South, raised with a romanticized vision of America’s past, Causey is haunted by slavery’s legacy. She passionately seeks the hidden truth and the untold stories that reveal how the sins of yesterday feed modern prejudice, which burns undiminished despite our seeming progress.

The Party –   Sally Potter’s real-time satire on uber-chic Londoners is an absolute delight. Kristin Scott Thomas leads an incredible ensemble as Janet, a politician celebrating a career-escalating appointment with a group of friends who each arrive at her elegant home with, well, their own baggage.

The Sandglass– Loosely adapted from the short story collection “Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass” by the extraordinary Bruno Schulz, Wojciech Has’ (The Saragossa Manuscript )dreamlike film from 1973 probes the illusory alliance between life and death. Introduced by author Annette Insdorf who will sign her new book Intimations: The Cinema of Wojciech Has following the screening.

The Shape of Water – Eliza, a shy mute, is part of the midnight janitorial crew at a 1960s secret government facility when she forges a connection with one of its prisoners, a creature from a dark swamp. But what might have just been a Girl-meets-Gill-man story achieves enormous romantic sweep in the expert hands of director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Cronos, Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy).

Spoor– A mountainous Polish village near the border of the Czech Republic provides the setting for an unusual murder mystery in the latest film from thrice Academy Award®-nominated director Agnieszka Holland (Angry Harvest, Europa Europa, In Darkness).

The Square– The unexpected recipient of the Palme d’Or , Ruben Östlund(Force Majeure -MVFF 2014), The Square follows Christian (Claes Bang, in a stellar, breakthrough performance), a handsome, fortysomething curator at a respected Stockholm art museum, whose life and current exhibit—also titled “The Square”—spiral out of control after his phone and wallet are stolen when he tries to break up a domestic dispute on the street on his way to work. Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Dominic West (The Wire) co-star in this hilarious and provocative satire of the art world.

And a very special program

Under The Radar: 70 Years of Polish Animation with live animation by Wilczynski and live music by Trance Mission on Saturday and a bonus tribute to Mariusz Wilczynski Monday. See the Oscar®-winning Tango and other films unseen in the U.S.

You can pick up a free Souvenir Guide at the theaters or download a copy here.


Spread the word

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Facebook – @MillValleyFilmFestival

Twitter – @MVFilmFest

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Peter Marshall, Christina Wise, Jason Wise and Zoë Elton | WAIT FOR YOUR LAUGH | Photo © Allison Levenson

Check regularly for the updated photo gallery of visiting guests.

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