2018 Napa Valley Film Festival: There’s a Drive-In!

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival Program GuideThe official program guide for the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival was recently released and if you’re a fan of film festivals you should seriously consider attending. What makes a film festival special is the live participation of writers, directors, actors and producers in Q&A sessions following practically every screening. If you enjoy excellent films, great wine, and outstanding food, then you will find ways to enjoy all three of them at the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) between November 7-11, 2018.

Many things are the same this time (Special Opening and Closing night films, Celebrity Tributes, Award Ceremonies, the annual Gala and the Friday Night Bash). But, there are also some changes this year for the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival: a new festival hub site for Napa, a new location for the Friday Night Bash, SommSelect wine tastings during the Gala, and new screening venues including a Drive-In! Keep reading and we’ll try to convince you to grab that credit card and start ordering right now.

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival:  Reasons to Attend

The Front RunnerReason #1 to attend the NVFF: The movies, starring past and future Oscar Winners! The 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival will include showings of The Front Runner, a narrative recounting of the rise and fall of Senator Gary Hart (starring Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga and JK Simmons), Vox Lux, a story of personal and professional challenges faced by a pop superstar as she grows from teenager to mother (starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Willem Dafoe), and Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, a documentary exploring the career and personality of Robin Williams (featuring interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, Pam Dawber, and Robin’s son Zak Williams).

The 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival will also have over 90 new independent films from around the world and the Awards Ceremony announcing selections for both juried and audience-selected winners will take place on Saturday, November 10. Films in the 2018 Competition include:  Ask For Jane

  • Afghan Cycles (directed by Sarah Menzies) – A documentary telling the story of women’s rights and the struggles faced by Afghan women on a daily basis as seen through the eyes of young cyclists
  • Ask for Jane (directed by Rachel Carey) – The depiction of a group of young women who developed an underground abortion network in Chicago between 1969 and 1973.
  • The Interpreters (directed by Sofian Khan and Andres Caballero) – A documentary following the lives of Iraqi and Afghan military interpreters who worked with US forces and how they are now rebuilding their lives.
  • Tomorrow (directed by Martha Pinson) – A war veteran struggling to find a reason to live is befriended by a man who lives every day as if it’s his last.
  • TransMilitary (directed by Gabe Silverman and Fiona Dawson) – A chronicle of four individuals who put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to Pentagon officials in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve.
  • You Can Choose Your Family (directed by Miranda Bailey) – A 17-year-old boy blackmails his father after discovering his secret second family.

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 Laurence J. Fishburne III, Geena Davis and The Groundlings Theatre), the Friday Night Bash at the studio of Artist-Designer Richard Von Saal, or a Kickoff Party at the The Studio by Feast it Forward. And then, there are always the official (and unofficial) After Parties each night.

Atelier Fine Foods, coming to 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival

Atelier Fine Foods

Napa Valley’s ultimate film, food and wine party of the year will be the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival Gala on November 10 between 8 pm and 1 am at the Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Center in Yountville. This is your chance to show off your most chic attire as you indulge in creative cocktails, small bites, and live entertainment. Culinary partners at the Gala include Angèle, Atelier Fine Foods, Basalt, Gran Eléctrica, Norman Rose Tavern, Azzurro Pizzeria, and Tarla Mediterranean Grill. Participating wineries will include Caldwell Vineyard, Ceja Vineyards, Conn Creek WineryGrgich Hills Estate, Ladera VineyardsMiner Family Winery, and Rombauer Vineyards.

Reason #3 to attend the NVFF: The Valley itself, of course! The 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival has screening locations throughout the beautiful valley, and attendees can also celebrate the talents of Valley residents at two Festival Hubs: one in Napa and one in St. Helena.

The Down-Valley Festival Hub is at The Studio by Feast it Forward in downtown Napa. This stylish interactive space will house a box office, film festival merchandise, and afternoon Wine Tasting experiences. It’s also where you’ll find the custom-designed Monogram Appliances Demonstration Kitchen showcasing cooking demonstrations during the Festival. Chefs sharing their knowledge and skills this year include Nina Compton, Kyle Connaughton, Melissa King, Christa Luedtke and Brian Malarkey.   1031 McKinstry Street, Napa

The Up-Valley Festival Hub is at Farmstead/Long Meadow Ranch, with a box office, an intimate screening room, afternoon Wine Tasting and Artisan Market, delicious snacks on-the-go, and opportunities for fabulous sit-down meals before or after a film.  738 Main Street, St. Helena

Maldonado Family Vineyards

Maldonado Family Vineyards

Wine Tasting experiences take place Thursday to Sunday during “Intermission,” from 3 pm to 5 pm, offering you a chance to explore a variety of premium wines crafted by Napa Valley winemakers. Different wineries will pour each day, so feel free to keep returning to the Hub of your choice. On Friday, November 9, representatives from the Mexican-American Vintner’s Association will be in Napa, including Ceja Vineyards, Encanto Vineyards, Maldonado Family Vineyards, Mario Bazán Cellars and Scalon Cellars. On Saturday, November 10, local boutique wineries pouring in St. Helena will include Behrens Family Winery, Ehlers Estate, Lang & Reed Wine Company, Long Meadow Ranch and Stanton Vineyards.

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival:  The Venues

Charles Krug Winery, a 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival venue

Charles Krug Winery

The 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival will have 10 unique theaters across the Valley to showcase films and events including the Uptown Theatre in Napa, the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville and Cameo Cinema in St. Helena. New intimate venues this year are at the Archer Hotel in Napa and the Acacia Barn at Las Alcobas in St. Helena. Also, acclaimed winery Charles Krug Winery will be returning with their adorable screening room.

Another new creation this year is the Drive-In in Calistoga.  A pop-up theater has been created just for the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival, located under the Speedway Pavilion at the Calistoga Fairgrounds.  There will be room for about 50 cars, and outdoor seating for another 100 attendees at film showings.  Before the showings, guests will be able to enjoy popcorn, snacks and wine from THE GRADE Cellars (made under the skilled direction of Thomas Rivers Brown).

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival: The Celebrities

Each year, the Napa Valley Film Festival salutes the highest levels of cinematic achievement by recognizing legendary filmmakers, trailblazers and rising stars. The 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival will celebrate these talented folks on four occasions.

Laurence J. Fishburne III, 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival Legendary Actor

Laurence J. Fishburne III

On Thursday, November 8, the Festival will honor Charles Krug Legendary Actor Laurence J Fishburne III, with an evening of video clips honoring his work and a live on-stage interview. Mr. Fishburne has achieved an impressive body of work as an actor, producer and director, and has won two Emmy Awards and five NAACP Image awards. His many film credits include The Matrix Trilogy, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Akeelah and the Bee, Apocalypse Now, Boyz ‘n the Hood, The Color Purple, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Mystic River and King of New York. He currently stars in the television show Black-ish.

On the afternoon of Friday, November 9, the Festival will celebrate over 40 years of comedic beginnings when they celebrate the Miner Family Winery Legacy Ensemble The Groundlings Theatre & School as well as some of their alumni. There is sure to be hilarious on-stage conversations amongst some of the most famous comedians and actors who got their start at this renowned LA institution. Honorees and special guests include original Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast member Laraine Newman, additional SNL standouts Cheri Oteri and Taran Killam, and Actress/Writer/Director Julia Sweeney (God Said Ha!).

Geena Davis, 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival Visionary

Geena Davis

On Friday evening, the festival will present the Davis Estates Visionary Tribute to Geena Davis for her contributions in film as an actress and her work to further women’s rights and gender equality. That evening, there will be a screening of the new documentary This Changes Everything which looks at gender disparity in Hollywood featuring Ms. Davis as the film’s main subject. She is an Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actress known for her work in films such as The Accidental Tourist, Beetlejuice, The Fly, Thelma & Louise, and A League of Their Own. Ms. Davis is also the Founder and Chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

On Saturday, November 10, the NVFF presents its second annual Rising Star Showcase, a moderated panel discussion with six talented young actors who will share their thoughts on life in the entertainment industry. Rising Stars include Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story, The Nun), Billy Magnussen (Game Night, Into the Woods), Camila Mendes (Riverdale, The Stand-In), Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Night Owls), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, Dark Phoenix) and Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse, Love, Simon).  Small bites and tastes of wines from Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards are included. A limited number of tickets will be available to Pass Plus holders for $25.

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival:  Tickets and Passes

The 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival has tickets and passes available for purchase right now and their website is here. Once the festival is underway, passes and tickets can be purchased (and/or picked up) at either the Up-Valley (Farmstead, St. Helena) or Down-Valley (Feast it Forward, Napa) Box Office locations. Film Festival Pass packages, and how they impact your place in line, are described below.

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival Line GraphicFestival Pass  ($295 per person, $265 each for 4 or more) offers:

  • Five full days of film
  • Blue Line entry to screenings (2nd Priority after Patron Circle and Pass Plus)
  • Access to afternoon wine tastings in Napa and St. Helena Festival Hubs
  • Access to culinary demonstrations

Pass Plus  ($695 per person, $665 each for 4 or more) has everything in the Festival Pass, but with Yellow Line entry to screenings (1st Priority after Patron Circle), and entrance to the Festival’s major special events:

  • Festival Gala
  • Celebrity Tributes
  • Friday Night Bash
  • Awards Ceremony
  • Festival Wrap Party

Weekend Pass  ($225 per person)

  • Access to three full days at the festival (Friday-Sunday)
  • Blue Line entry to screenings (2nd Priority after Patron Circle and Pass Plus)
  • Access to afternoon wine tastings in Napa and St. Helena Festival Hubs those three days
  • Access to culinary demonstrations

Weekend Plus  ($575 per person) has everything in the Weekend Pass, but with Yellow Line entry to screenings (1st Priority after Patron Circle), and entrance to the Festival’s major special events:

  • Festival Gala
  • Friday Night Bash
  • Awards Ceremony
  • Festival Wrap Party

Flex Pass  ($125 per person)

  • Access to five screenings, wine tastings, or culinary demonstrations during the festival
  • Red Line entry to screenings (3rd priority after Patron Circle)

The Film Festival will also sell Rush Tickets, offering non-passholders the opportunity to enjoy films with last-minute tickets at the door for $20 – $25 each.

2018 Napa Valley Film Festival:  The Patron Circle

Of course, the most elevated experiences at the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival go to those who join the Patron Circle and find no waiting in lines, reserved seating sections, and complimentary wine at many of the screening venues. Patron Circle Membership levels include:

2017 NVFF Rising Star Showcase

2017 NVFF Rising Star Showcase

  • 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 Patron Circle-exclusive events such as the Opening Night Screening and Party, Rising Star Showcase and Variety’s 10 to Taste dinner. ($1500 is tax deductible)
  • A-Lister ($5,000 per person) – Patron level benefits plus special A-Lister events such as the Celebrity Tributes Night and Reception, the Film Industry Mixer, and the opportunity to sponsor a specific film in the program and concierge service during the Festival. ($3750 is tax deductible)
  • Movie Mogul ($25,000 per person)– This membership level also includes dedicated luxury car and driver service throughout the festival, Meet and Greet with Tribute Honorees, A-List Dinner Party priority seating with celebrities, and upgraded concierge service during the Festival. ($20,000 tax deductible)
Chef Mark Caldwell

Saffron Fettucini with Saffron Cream, Pancetta, Summer Corn from Chef Mark Caldwell

One of the special Patron Circle experiences at the NVFF is a seat at one of the Vintner Circle Dinners, intimate evenings of delightful food, wine and conversations about cinematic storytelling. Some of the partnerships hosting these delightful meals include Chef Yancy Windsperger at Acumen Wines, Chef Christopher Kostow at Castelluci Napa Valley, Chef Mark Caldwell at Davis Estates, Chef Michel Cornu at Raymond Vineyards and Chef Ken Frank at VGS Chateau Potelle.  

If you are coming to the 2018 Napa Valley Film Festival and need some additional travel advice for wineries and restaurants while you’re in the Valley, we’re here to help. 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.

The 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.



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