An Offer You Can’t Refuse: The 2016 Napa Valley Film Festival

2016-nvff-programThe official program for the 2016 Napa Valley Film Festival was recently released and if you’re a fan of film festivals you should definitely think about attending.  If you’ve never gone to a film festival before, this is a great venue to introduce yourself to the concept. What makes a film festival more than just “going to the movies” is the live participation of writers, directors, actors and producers in Q&A sessions following practically every screening. And, if you’re a fan of excellent films, great wine, and outstanding food, then you absolutely need to make your way to the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) between November 9-13, 2016.  Keep reading and we’ll try to convince you to grab that credit card and start typing right now.

Reason #1 to attend the NVFF: Excellent films, including several that are already receiving Oscar buzz. The Napa Valley Film Festival will include showings of 20th Century Women (starring Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning), Lion (Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman), and Bleed For This (Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart and Katey Sagal). You’ll also be able to see Captain Fantastic (Viggo Mortensen), Mr. Church (Eddie Murphy), Elle (Isabelle Huppert) and Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain).

political-animals-posterThe Film Festival will have about 120 narrative, documentary and short films from around the world culled out of the over 1,000 films submitted for consideration.  The 2016 NVFF Artistic Director and Program Manager were generally looking for three things: films with a sense of hope or uplifting motivations, films that focus on the power of the individual, and films that plumb the intricacies of relationships. That’s while you’ll find narrative films such as 11:55, The Book of Love, and Sticky Notes as well as documentaries Farewell Ferris Wheel and Political Animals at the Festival.

Reason #2 to attend the NVFF: The parties! If you move quickly, you may be able to get tickets for Celebrity Tributes (honoring artists such as Lee Daniels and Kurt Russell), the Festival Gala (featuring wines and delicacies from Napa Valley’s wineries and chefs), the Festival Awards Ceremony (where both juried and audience awards are announced), or attendee favorites such as a Friday Night Bash at the interior design gallery space Martin Showroom, or an opening night Pool Party with a thermal water mineral pool at Indian Springs.  And then, there are always the official (and unofficial) After Parties each night.

Kara's Cupcakes

Kara’s Cupcakes

Napa Valley’s ultimate film, food and wine party of the year will be the NVFF Festival Gala on November 12 between 8 pm and 2 am(!) at the Lincoln Theater offering you a chance to grace the red carpet in your most chic attire before you sip, nibble, mingle and dance.  Two main stages will feature performances by MJ’s Brass Boppers and live music from Ivy Hill Entertainment.  Over 20 culinary partners at the party include Angèle, Ca’ Momi, Compadres Rio Grille, FARM, Hurley’s, Kara’s CupcakesKollar Chocolates, La Toque, Sweetie Pies and Tarla Mediterranean Grill.  Beverages include Stella Artois, The Glenrothes, and Napa Valley wineries such as Beaulieu Vineyard, Beringer Vineyards, Ceja Vineyards, Charles Krug Winery, Eleven Eleven Wines, Flora Springs Winery & Vineyard, The Hess Collection, Italics, Materra, Nellcôte, Robert Biale Vineyards, Taken Wine Company, Titus Vineyards, Trinchero Napa Valley, Wolf Family Vineyards (…and over a dozen more).

Napa Valley Film Festival

Lounging area at Napa Valley Film Festival

Reason #3 to attend the NVFF: Napa Valley itself, of course.  The Napa Valley Film Festival takes place in the four walkable villages of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga where each town will have a Box Office, multiple screening venues, a wine pavilion, “Passholder Perks” and special events all courtesy of the 300 filmmakers, 150 wineries and 30 chefs working together to make your experience fun, entertaining and unforgettable.  In addition, most screening venues will have wine available for tasting or purchase while you enjoy the films.

The NVFF afternoon Wine Pavilions will feature wineries between 3 pm and 5 pm at each village, offering a wonderful tasting experience without the hassles of driving, parking, adhering to appointment times and/or paying tasting fees.  Featured representatives will include:

Freemark Abbey

Freemark Abbey Barrel Room, soon to be a Screening Room

The 2016 Napa Valley Film Festival will welcome 13 unique theaters to showcase films and events including the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center and the Uptown Theatre in Napa, the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville, Cameo Cinema in St. Helena and The Gliderport at Indian Springs in Calistoga.  Also, two acclaimed and historic wineries are joining the fun this year with screenings also taking place at Freemark Abbey and Charles Krug Winery.


2016 Napa Valley Film Festival:  The Celebrities

Kurt Russell

Legendary Actor Kurt Russell

Each year, the Napa Valley Film Festival salutes the highest levels of cinematic achievement by recognizing legendary filmmakers, trailblazers and rising stars.  For 2016 they will be honoring Legendary Filmmaker Lee Daniels (the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker whose works include Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire) and Legendary Actor Kurt Russell (the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor whose works include The Hateful Eight, The Thing, Escape From New York, Silkwood, and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes) at the Celebrity Tribute event on November 10 between 6 pm and 8 pm (with doors opening at 5 pm and Red Carpet arrivals at 5:30 pm).  Tickets are $50 per person, $45 per person for 2 tickets, or $40 each for a party of four.

Rising Star Glen Powell

Rising Star Glen Powell

Also that night at the Tribute, the 2016 NVFF will shine a Spotlight on Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method, The Road, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and his latest film Captain Fantastic), and recognize Trailblazers Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In, If I Stay, Clouds of Sils Maria) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Road Within, The Best Erotic Marigold Hotel and his latest film Lion)Celebrity Tribute activities will also recognize the emerging careers of Rising Stars Glen Powell (Everybody Wants Some, Ride Along 2) and Zoey Deutch (Vincent N Roxxy, Beautiful Creatures).

Celebrities expected to attend the Napa Valley Film Festival at various screenings include Aaron Eckhart (Bleed for This on 11/11), Jessica Biel (The Book of Love on 11/10) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Generosity of Eye on 11/12).  And, it’s highly likely that the NVFF will also see visits from Ian Bohen, Josh Charles, Katie Holmes, Sam Huntington, Sam Jaeger, Alex Karpovsky, Rose Leslie, Joel David Moore, Matt Ross, Wyatt Russell and Madeline Zima.


2016 Napa Valley Film Festival:  The Movies

There are going to be about 120 films at the 2016 Napa Valley Film Festival.   These are some of the full-length choices that sound the most intriguing to us:

11:5511:55 – After being honorably discharged from the US Marines, Nelson Sanchez returns to the economically depressed home-town he left behind a few years earlier only to come face-to-face with the consequences of his violent past.

All We Had – After escaping from an abusive boyfriend, a young mother and her 15-year-old daughter start all over again in a small town and develop bonds with the locals until a turn of events threaten to unravel the new situation.

The Book of Love – When tragedy strikes, an introverted architect quits his job and mopes around the house, eventually befriending a young homeless girl and helping her on a special project:  building a raft designed to weather a transatlantic crossing.

Colin Hay – Waiting for My Real Life – Chronicling the inspiring personal and artistic journey of the singer-songwriter and former frontman for Men At Work, this documentary film traces the band’s shotgun rise to superstardom, their rapid demise, and then the artist’s long climb back to relevance and resonance.

The Drowning – A child psychologist is haunted by his past in this psychological thriller when a former patient returns, 12 years after the psychologist’s testimony originally helped incarcerate him.

Farewell Ferris WheelFarewell Ferris Wheel – Focusing on a long-loved tradition for children and their families, this documentary deftly balances the challenges facing traveling summer carnival operators/owners trying to keep their carnivals alive with the aspirations of their Mexican workforce striving for better working conditions and a brighter future.

Gleason – This inspirational documentary follows former New Orleans Saints star defensive back Steve Gleason who after being diagnosed with ALS at the age of 34, creates a foundation to help other ALS patients, repairs a rocky relationship with his father, and embraces new technologies to help compensate for his deteriorating abilities all with his wife’s unwavering support.

Hunky Dory – A dive bar drag queen with faded dreams of being a glam rocker has his life upended when his ex-girlfriend drops off their 11-year old son, forcing a confrontation between the performer’s questionable habits and the adult demands of single parenthood.

Little Boxes – An interracial family struggles to adjust after relocating from New York City to a small, predominately white town, including the son who perceives he needs to act “more black” in order to be considered cool.

Magicians: Life in the Impossible – The documentary follows four world-class practitioners of the dark arts on stage and off, exploring how and why these very different characters passionately dedicate their lives to the artistry and craft of illusion.

Political Animals – An emotionally charged documentary about the first openly gay legislators in California: Carole Migden, Christine Kehoe, Jackie Goldberg and Shiela Kuehl.

Sticky Notes – An emotionally detached backup dancer living in Los Angeles returns to Florida to take care of her estranged father after he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

UnleashedUnleashed – A quirky app designer re-boots her life with the help and support of her beloved cat and dog, but after the animals go missing one night and a cosmic event causes the pets to turn into grown men, comedy ensues against the backdrop of San Francsico as everyone seeks to reunite.

Youth in Oregon – When an elderly gentleman announces he’s made arrangements to be euthanized in his home state of Oregon, his adult daughter assigns her husband to drive him there, unaware that her father actually is dying.

The Festival’s full program, including offerings and details on Short Films can be found here.


2016 Napa Valley Film Festival:  Tickets and Passes

uptown_marquis_nvffThe Napa Valley Film Festival has several ways to purchase your tickets and a multitude of ticket and event combinations for sale.  Their website is here to purchase online or you can call their office between 10/31 and 11/6 to order (707-226-7500 between noon and 6 pm).  Once the festival is underway, passes and tickets can be purchased at any of the four Village Box Offices in Napa, Yountville, St. Helena or Calistoga.  Passes and Ticket Options include the following (and residents of Napa or Sonoma can save 10% by using the discount code LOCALS):

Festival Pass ($295 per person, $265 each for 4 or more) offers multi-day access to:

  • All regular film screenings
  • All panel and discussion programs
  • All wine tasting pavilions and culinary demonstrations
  • Passholder Perks throughout Napa Valley

Pass Plus ($645 per person, $625 each for 4 or more) has everything  in the Festival Pass, adding priority access to film screenings and also entrance to the Festival’s major special events:

  • Festival Gala
  • Celebrity Tributes
  • Awards Ceremony
  • Wrap Party

Midweek Pass  ($125 per person, $105 for 4 people, $85 for 10 people) is for film, food & wine lovers who have availability midweek only:

  • Access to three full days at the festival (Tuesday – Thursday)
  • Same benefits at Festival Pass on those three days
  • Priority access into films over Rush Ticket holders

Friday Day Pass ($85 per person, $65 for 4 people, $55 for 10 people), Saturday Day Pass ($99 per person), or Sunday Day Pass ($75 per person, $65 for 4 people, $55 for 10 people) – One day access (11/11, 11/12 or 11/13) to:

  • All regular film screenings
  • All panel and discussion programs
  • All wine tasting pavilions and culinary demonstrations
  • Passholder Perks throughout Napa Valley

Saturday Awards Ceremony and Festival Gala Combo ($250 per person, $225 for 2 people, $200 for 4 people)

  • Film Festival Awards Ceremony of both Juried and Audience Awards
  • The Festival Gala with the best of Napa Valley food and wine

Saturday Day Pass & Awards & Gala Combo ($299 per person)

  • Saturday (11/12) Day Pass access and benefits
  • Film Festival Awards Ceremony of both Juried and Audience Awards
  • The Festival Gala with the best of Napa Valley food and wine
Happy Hour Dips at Tarla

Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and Tzatziki at Tarla

What are Passholder Perks?  During the Festival, select restaurants, wineries and other businesses are extending special offers when you show them your Festival Pass.  Examples of the Perks are complimentary wine tastings at AVinoDos Wines and Gustavo Wine and Huge Bear Wines, 2 for 1 tastings at Charles Krug Winery, honorary wine club membership (and benefits) for the day at Delectus and Cliff Lede Vineyards, a complimentary glass of wine with purchase at Clif Family Winery and Hurley’s, a complimentary appetizer with the purchase of an entrée at Jax White Mule Diner and Tarla Mediterranean Grill, a 10% discount on Chocolate or Caramel sauce purchases at Anette’s Chocolates and a 15% discount at Cake Plate, the boutique for men and women in downtown Napa.  You can find information on all of the Passholder Perks offers by going here.

NVFF Patron CircleOf course, if you want to really indulge, you should consider joining the Patron Circle at the 2016 Napa Valley Film Festival.  There are three levels of Patron Circle Membership, all offering VIP Experiences of not waiting in lines (you’ll have priority access), reserved seating sections (at all red carpet presentations) and complimentary wine at many of the screening venues.  You’ll also be invited to exclusive sneak preview events.

Chef Bob Hurley

Chef Bob Hurley

For Patron Circle members, another special experience at the NVFF is the chance to sit at one of the intimate Vintner Circle Dinners, pairing Napa Valley wines with the talents of local chefs.   Examples of the partnerships include Caldwell Vineyard and Chef Aaron MeneghelliCharles Krug Winery and Chef Paula LeDuc, Duckhorn and Chef Natalie Niksa, Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley and Chef Brett Schaublin, Priest Ranch Winery and Chef Bob Hurley, Raymond Vineyards and Chef Michel Cornu and Rombauer Vineyards and Chef Nicolas Montanez.

Patron Circle membership levels include:

  • Patron ($2,500 per person) –  VIP access to films, wine pavilions, panels, culinary demonstrations, parties and big events. Exclusive invitations to receptions, late-night lounges, and the winemaker/filmmaker dinner series. ($1750 is tax deductible)
  • A-Lister ($5,000 per person) – Patron level benefits plus special A-Lister events such as the Celebrity Tributes dinner with VIP guests, the Film Industry Mixer, the opportunity to sponsor a specific feature film in the program and concierge service during the Festival. ($4000 is tax deductible)
  • Movie Mogul ($25,000 per person) – This membership level also includes dedicated luxury car and driver service throughout the festival, seating with Tribute Honorees, access to the top winemaker dinner with VIP guests, and personalized concierge service during the Festival and throughout the year. ($20,000 tax deductible) 

2016 Napa Valley Film Festival:  Special Presentations

Here are some Special Presentations at the Napa Valley Film Festival where tickets can also be purchased for $20 each outside of the standard Day Pass or Festival Pass options:

decanted-posterNovember 9  – Look inside one of the most intimate winegrowing regions in the world as the documentary Decanted follows the development of the Italics Winery as seen through the eyes of Napa Valley winemakers and pacesetters that share a passion for their craft.

November 9 and November 11 – The Forbidden Shore is a documentary bringing to life the dynamic experience of the full spectrum of Cuban music in all of its extraordinary diversity.  Several of the musicians will also appear and perform live after the screenings.

gilmore_girls_netflix_posterNovember 12 – Live more, love more, eat more and talk more with Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, four new chapters from the lives of Lorelai, Emily, Rory & more Stars Hollow residents. Join a conversation with the creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino and enjoy clips from the upcoming Netflix series.

November 12 – The documentary Generosity of Eye captures the surprising story of a major art collection transforming into educational opportunities for African American children in Geoffrey Canada’s non-profit organization Harlem Children’s Zone.  The film also incorporates the personal tale of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus discovering how justice, art & family can collide in a single act of extraordinary generosity by her father, William Louis-Dreyfus.

November 12 – Twenty-five years after 7 young male dancers were hired by Madonna to join her on stage for the “Blond Ambition” world tour, Strike a Pose captures the dancers revealing the dramatic truth about life during and after the tour, and the importance of finding the courage to be who you are.

pisco-punch-movie-posterOn November 13, the Closing Night Film of the Napa Valley Film Festival is Pisco Punch: a Cocktail Comeback Story and afterwards, the theme continues at the Wrap Party featuring Pisco producers from around the world and Pisco Punch recipes from talented mixologists (as well as a lineup of spirits from the Anchor Distilling Company and Stella Artois).  Between 7:30 pm and 11 pm on Napa’s Riverfront, the party will also offer Latin delicacies such as Sea Bass Ceviche (from Pacifico Aquaculture) , Causa Limeña and Anticucho Corazón (from La Mar) and Paella (from Paella del Reyes).  However, you will need to be a Pass Plus Passholder or a Patron Circle Member to get into the Wrap Party.


Napa Valley Bistro

Napa Valley Bistro

2016 will be the 6th annual Napa Valley Film Festival, and we hope you’ll be able to join us there.  There are even more films, special events, and parties happening than what we’ve listed above so please go here to find additional details and/or to see the full NVFF program.  If you need some travel advice for wineries and restaurants while you’re in the valley, please go to the navigation bar above and follow the drop-down menus under “Favorites By Wine Region” to get details on the area you’re most interested in.  Or, for recent advice on how to explore the city of Napa through its Happy Hours, please see our posting here.

Napa Valley Film FestivalThe Napa Valley Film Festival is produced by Cinema Napa Valley, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that celebrates the cinematic arts and enriches the community by presenting an annual world-class festival and year-round education and outreach programs.

“One of the greatest rewards along this journey is watching the sense of community develop between artist and audience, sharing in the appreciation of positive, inspiring and entertaining cinematic storytelling.” – Marc Lhormer and Brenda Lhormer, Napa Valley Film Festival Co-founders.




An Offer You Can’t Refuse: The 2016 Napa Valley Film Festival — 1 Comment

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