Moviegoers rejoice, as it’s time for the 3rd annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) so now you’ve got another excellent reason to visit Napa Valley. With events covering an entire week, this year’s festival will feature 125 new independent films and the Valley’s finest wine, food, and hospitality. Beyond the film viewings, festival attendees will also find Special Events such as an Opening Night Party, a Festival Gala, Celebrity Tributes, The New Power Lunch (honoring women’s contributions), Culinary Demonstrations, Winemaker Dinners, and the closing Award Ceremony and Wrap Party (where 8 Jury and 9 Audience Awards will be handed out).
The NVFF is centered around four Festival Villages (in Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga) and each village has a Village Center (Will-Call, Box Office, Merchandise), multiple screening venues (12 in total across Napa Valley), Wine Pavilions (offering wine tasting experiences between 2:30 and 5:00 pm Friday through Sunday), and festival Front Porches. You can base yourself in one village, or check out a different town each day (most films screen multiple times up and down the Valley).
The Napa Valley Film Festival officially opens on Wednesday, November 13 with the highly anticipated film August: Osage County directed by John Wells and starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. This Pulitzer Prize-winning play (and winner of five 2008 Tony Awards® including Best Play) tells the dark, hilarious, and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family who return to their family home and reunite with the dysfunctional women who raised them.
Before the official opening of the NVFF, you can attend a day of films honoring Veterans on November 11 (with free admission for Veterans and active duty military) and/or a sneak preview on November 12 of Alexander Payne’s new film Nebraska starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte.
To purchase passes or to see the entire Film Festival program, please go here. Otherwise, keep reading and we’ll share some of the many reasons to attend the 2013 Napa Valley Film Festival.
2013 Napa Valley Film Festival: The Films
In addition to the ones listed above, additional films that will be part of the Napa Valley Film Festival lineup are:
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom – Based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, this film (starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris) chronicles his early life, coming of age, education, and 27 years in prison before becoming President.
Philomena – From the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, this movie featuring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan focuses on the efforts of a woman to search for the long-lost son she conceived out of wedlock and gave up for adoption.
Saving Mr. Banks – A wonderful cast (led by Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson) play out the story of two weeks in 1961 when Walt Disney pulls out all the stops to try and convince P. L. Travers to let him make a movie out of her Mary Poppins book.
Other narrative films at the Napa Valley Film Festival include romantic comedies such as Hank and Asha (international love story via correspondence through video letters), One Small Hitch (childhood friends, recently reunited, who must each quickly find a serious love interest to show off to their families), and Putzel (coming of age story about a young man who tries to interfere in the romance between his already married boss – and uncle – and a new arrival).
The NVFF will also showcase a variety of interesting Documentaries including:
16 Acres – Conveying the turbulent story of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, including architectural battles, political gamesmanship, and ideological conflicts.
- Anita – About Anita Hill, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of unwanted sexual advances during his Senate hearings in 1991.
- The Fabulous Ice Age – A chronicle of a century of theatrical skating, including the Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and Sonja Henie shows.
- Good Ol’ Freda – Recounting the experiences of Freda Kelly, a shy Liverpool teenager who was the loyal secretary and office manager for the Beatles, from beginning to end.
- Sewing Hope – Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe leads a vocational school in a compelling effort to restore dignity and hope to women in the aftermath of Joseph Kony and his army’s terrorization of Northern Uganda.
- Sole Survivor – Four survivors of commercial aviation disasters come together to share their stories and discuss the aftermath of the incidents on their lives.
Since the film festival takes place in Napa Valley you probably expect some wine-centric films. The Napa Valley Film Festival obliges with:
Dossier Zinfandel – A Zinfandel-focused documentary, including comments and ideas from Paul Draper, Joel Peterson, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, and Dr. Carole Meredith.
- The Monks of Vina – A documentary that brings you into the world of the brotherhood of Trappist Monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, and the 15 acres of vineyards that help support the monastery and its activities.
- Red Obsession – An exploration of the Bordeaux region and the ever-increasing worldwide demand for its limited product.
In addition to full-length features, the NVFF also offers a comprehensive range of Animated Short Films, Narrative Short Films, and Documentary Short Films.
2013 Napa Valley Film Festival: The Festival Gala
Following the November 14 screening of Saving Mr. Banks, Patron Circle and Pass Plus holders can join filmmakers and sponsors at the spectacular Festival Gala in downtown Napa from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am. At the Gala, attendees will enjoy live entertainment from half a dozen different acts, and culinary offerings and wine pairings from more than 25 Napa Valley top chefs and wineries.
The culinary showcase will feature Chefs such as Rogelio Garcia (Angèle), Greg Cole (Celadon), Mauro Pando (Grace’s Table), Bob Hurley (Hurley’s Restaurant), Chris Kollar (Kollar Chocolates), Jeffrey Jake (Silverado Resort and Spa), Brad Farmerie (The Thomas), and Chris Mortenson (La Condesa). Wine pairings will include tastes from Alpha Omega, Chappellet, Favia Wines, HALL Wines, Hill Family Estate, O’Brien Estate, Priest Ranch, and Swanson Vineyards.
As the night progresses, guests can celebrate in the VIP lounge with cocktails, nibbles and late night dancing. Individual tickets are also available for this event for $150 per person, or $250 per couple.
2013 Napa Valley Film Festival: Admission to Events
The best way to attend the Napa Valley Film Festival is with a Pass and there are three levels (Festival Pass, Pass Plus, and Patron Circle) while other options include Day Passes, Combo Passes, or Rush Tickets. Here is a brief summary of your choices:
Festival Pass: $250 – Enjoy the festival for five days, November 13-17
- Access to all film screenings (after Patrons and other VIP guests) and film industry panels
- Access to all wine tasting pavilions, culinary demonstrations, and Festival Front Porches
- Access to Saturday Late Night party at Eiko’s in Napa
Pass Plus: $500 – Provides same benefits as the Festival Pass, plus access to…
- Festival Gala on November 14
- Tributes to Top Filmmakers and Celebrities
- Closing Night Awards Ceremony and Wrap Party
- Friday Late Night Party at Martin Showroom in St. Helena
Patrons Pass: $2,500 & Up – Provides same benefits at the Pass Plus, and…
- No waiting in lines, always admitted first
- Exclusive VIP hospitality lounges with epicurean delights and the finest Napa Valley wines
- VIP access to one of 18 unique Filmmaker/Chef/Winemaker Dinners on Saturday, November 16 (with Wineries and Chefs including Alpha Omega and Chappellet with Chef Ken Frank of La Toque, Hess Collection with Hess Executive Chef Chad Hendrickson, and Swanson Vineyards with Chef Armando Ramirez of Zuzu).
Uptown Pass: $125 – Valid for Sunday November 17 only
- Access to all-day and evening festivities at the Uptown Theatre in Napa including Rock & Roll documentaries Who Shot Rock ‘n Roll?, Good Ol’ Freda, and Sound City
- Access to the Award Ceremony and the Closing Night Wrap Party
Friday, Saturday, or Sunday Day Pass: $75 – Same benefits as a Festival Pass for just one day: November 15, 16, or 17
Wednesday & Thursday Combo Pass: $75 – Same benefits as a Festival Pass for both November 13 and 14
At all programs there will be three groups entering: Patrons enter first, other Passholders enter second, and Rush Ticket holders enter third (if space available). Passes, and Special Event tickets are available for purchase online here. Rush tickets are sold at screening locations or Wine Pavilions, cash only.
The Napa Valley Film Festival is produced by Cinema Napa Valley, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to support the art of independent filmmaking and cinematic story-telling; enhance and diversify Napa Valley’s cultural landscape, and to provide educational opportunities in and out of the classroom for local students.
While you’re in Napa Valley, if you are looking for some suggestions on wineries and/or restaurants in between films, please see our recommendations by clicking on “Favorites By Wine Region” on the menu bar above, and following the drop-down menus to the area(s) you are interested in.