We’re just a few days away from the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival and if you need a break right now you should seriously consider attending. There are still passes and tickets available for purchase, and part of what makes a film festival special is the live participation of writers, directors, actors and producers in Q&A sessions following practically every screening. Part of what makes the Napa Valley Film Festival special is the combination of excellent films with visiting celebrities, fun parties, and the Valley’s outstanding wine and food.
The 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) runs between Wednesday and Sunday, November 13-17, and there are all sorts of ticket and/or pass options to accommodate your personal schedule. Many things are the same at this year’s Festival (Special Opening and Closing Night Films, Wine Tasting Intermissions, Celebrity Tributes, the annual Gala, the Friday Night Bash). But, there are also some changes this year: Culinary Demonstrations in the Monogram Demonstration Kitchen, “Masterclass” guided tastings of Scotch Whiskies, and some free film screenings in the morning.
The Napa Valley Film Festival will be offering free entry to all morning screenings at the Lincoln Theater this year. Showings include My Beautiful Stutter (a documentary about 5 kids who stutter, capturing their transformation after they enter a groundbreaking program), It All Begins with a Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter (a celebration of one of music’s most important yet underrated forces), and Standing Up, Falling Down (a comedy starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz about an unlikely friendship). You can reserve tickets at the Festival’s website, on the “Tickets” page under the “Community Screenings” section.
If you’re still on the fence, we encourage you to think about the films, the parties, and Napa Valley’s generous bounty of wine, food and hospitality. Keep reading and we’ll try to convince you to grab that credit card and start ordering right now.
2019 Napa Valley Film Festival: Reasons to Attend
Reason #1 to attend the NVFF: The movies, starring past and future Oscar Winners! For example, the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival’s Opening Night film is Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Oscar Winners Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx. This powerful true story follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice, and the film was awarded “Overall Audience Favorite” at last month’s Mill Valley Film Festival.
Some of the other 2019 NVFF films potentially heading for an Academy Award include Clemency, a portrait of a prison warden as she prepares for another death row execution (starring Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge and Wendell Price), Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a tale of growing attraction between a reluctant bride and the female artist hired to paint her wedding portrait in 1760 France (Noémie Merland and Adèle Haenel), The Truth, the stormy reunion between a woman and her mother, a star of French Cinema who recently published her memoirs (Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke) and Troop Zero, an endearing tale of a motherless girl in Georgia in 1977 who starts her own troop of Birdie Scouts after being rejected by the existing local troop (Viola Davis, Mckenna Grace, Jim Gaffigan).
The 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival will present over 80 new independent films from around the world. Sixteen of those films are competing for the title of Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature, and the 2019 NVFF’s Core Competition includes:
- Here Awhile (directed by Tim True) – Anna returns to Oregon to reconnect with her estranged brother, only to reveal that she has decided to end her life via the Death with Dignity Act due to a terminal illness.
- Latter Day Jew (directed by Aliza Rosen) – This documentary accompanies H. Alan Scott, a gay former Mormon, converted Jew, and cancer survivor as he finds his spiritual path and prepares for his Bar Mitzvah (at the age of 34).
- Lucky Grandma (directed by Sasie Sealy) – An ornery, chain-smoking Chinese grandmother goes all in at the casino and wins, only to find herself in the middle of a gang war set in New York City’s Chinatown.
- The Nomads (directed by Brandon Eric Kamin) – Amidst the chaos of massive budget cuts and school closures, a young female teacher introduces men’s rugby to an inner-city North Philadelphia high school.
- The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion (directed by Lisa Cortes and Farah X) – Follow a journey of African-American creativity as this documentary explores how hip hop changed fashion, leading to the stratospheric and global rise of street wear.
- Stealing School (directed by Li Dong) – After a tech prodigy is accused of plagiarism, an academic tribunal to determine the student’s fate sets the stage for a game of psychological cat and mouse, where nothing is as it seems.
- Well Groomed (directed by Rebecca Stern) – This documentary covers a year immersed in the humorous and visually stunning world of Competitive Creative Dog Grooming, alongside the vibrant women transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures.
In addition to the films mentioned above, other screenings at the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival include:
- Code and Response – This documentary follows coders around the world as they develop groundbreaking technologies (such as Drone Aid) to help first responders and communities become more resilient against the growing threat of natural disasters.
- Come As You Are – A narrative tale of three young men, living with disabilities under the watchful eyes of loving but overprotective families, who launch a road trip after they learn about a brothel that caters to individuals like themselves.
- From the Vine – After experiencing an ethical crisis at work, a downtrodden CEO returns to his hometown in rural Italy and discovers a newfound purpose by reviving his grandfather’s old vineyard.
- Gay Chorus Deep South – In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South to bring a message of music, love and acceptance.
- Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy – An intimate and candid glimpse into the world of Diana Kennedy, a 96-year-old British ex-pat who is widely regarded as the world’s academic expert on Mexican Cuisine.
- Ruth – Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words – Hear directly from “The Notorious R.B.G.” about how someone with three strikes against her rose to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Treasure Trouble – A comedy about a young woman’s long night of misadventures as she, her ex-boyfriend, and his current fiancée try to return a found gun to its rightful owner: the Russian Mob.
Reason #2 to attend the NVFF: The parties! Film Festival attendees can enjoy an Opening Night Party featuring pop-up bars from Peroni and High West Distillery, Celebrity Tributes (honoring artists such as Kevin Bacon and Vanessa Hudgens), the Friday Night Bash at Martin Studio in St. Helena, and/or the lavish Festival Gala presenting over thirty epicurean and winery partners from throughout the Valley. Of course, there are always the unofficial After Parties as well.
On November 16, the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival Gala starts at 7 pm when the film I Want My MTV sets the stage for a night of neon nostalgia. After this “biographical” film of how a new cable channel in 1981 burst onto the scene is screened, a Q&A session moderated by singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson will feature former Monkee Michael Nesmith, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, and the original VJ Alan Hunter. Then, you can enjoy food, wine, cocktails and live entertainment all night long. Formal wear is encouraged, but not required, but attire supporting the 80’s theme is strongly encouraged.
If you’re wondering what types of food to expect, some of our favorite dishes at last year’s Gala included a Buttermilk Fried Chicken Slider from Norman Rose Tavern, Lunga di Napoli Squash Arancini from Oenotri, Taco de Carnitas from Gran Eléctrica, Red Wine Braised Short Rib from Basalt, and basically everything ever made by Annie the Baker. Participating wineries this year are likely to include Ashes & Diamonds, Caldwell Vineyard, Ceja Vineyards, Clos Du Val, Grgich Hills Estate, Miner Family Winery, Raymond Vineyards and Rombauer Vineyards.
Reason #3 to attend the NVFF: The Valley itself! The 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival has 7 unique theaters across the Valley showcasing films and events including the Archer Hotel, CIA at Copia and the Uptown Theatre in Napa, the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville, and Cameo Cinema, Charles Krug Winery and Native Sons Hall in St. Helena. Attendees can enjoy many Film Festival activities at two Festival Hubs: one in Napa and one in St. Helena.
The Down-Valley Festival Hub is at the Oxbow Commons in downtown Napa. This 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 Demonstration Kitchen showcasing cooking demonstrations during the Festival.
The Up-Valley Festival Hub is at Farmstead/Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, with a box office, afternoon Wine Tasting experiences, and opportunities for fabulous sit-down meals before or after a film. The Film Festival’s Blending Labs will take place here, a series of live panels involving film, food and wine. This is also where you’ll find Masterclasses around beverages such as Ardberg and Glenmorangie Scotch Whiskies and Remy Martin Cognac.
2019 NVFF: Wine and Food
If you’d like to have some wine while you watch a movie, wine will be available on site for purchase during screenings at Archer Hotel and the Uptown Theatre in Napa, the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, and Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena. In addition, Napa Valley wine tasting experiences will take place at both of the Festival Hubs during “Intermission” from 3 pm to 5 pm from Thursday through Sunday. Different wineries will pour each day, so feel free to keep returning to the Hub of your choice.
On Thursday, November 14, Appellation St. Helena wineries such as Ballentine Vineyards, Crocker & Starr, Long Meadow Ranch, Mending Wall Winery and Revana Family Vineyards will be pouring in St. Helena. On Saturday, November 16, you’ll find wineries from Spring Mountain such as Barnett Vineyards, Behrens Family Winery, Keenan Winery, Paloma Vineyard and Sarocka Estate.
At the Napa Festival Hub, on Friday, November 15, you’ll find wineries from the Coombsville AVA including Ackerman Family Vineyards, Italics Winegrowers, Maroon Wines, Palmaz Vineyards and Tournesol Wine. On Sunday, November 17, the Carneros Wine Alliance will be pouring their wines including Artesa Vineyards & Winery, Bouchaine Vineyeards, Calmére Estate Winery, The Donum Estate, Etude Wines, Hyde Vineyards and Truchard Vineyards.
You can also find representatives from the Rutherford Dust Society sharing their wines in St. Helena on Friday and Napa on Saturday. Participating wineries include Beaulieu Vineyard, Brilliant Mistake Wines, Honig Vineyard & Winery, Inglenook, Monticello Vineyards, Pestoni Family Estate Winery and Provenance Vineyards.
New this year, the Napa Valley Film Festival will stage cooking demonstrations in the Monogram Demonstration Kitchen at the Napa Festival Hub between November 14-17. Demonstrations will occur at 10:30 am, 12:15 pm, and 2:00 pm each day and there will be a sampling component at each. Demonstrators will include Chef Ignacio Beltran of Gran Eléctrica, Michelin Star Chef Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions, Executive Chef Daniel Capra of Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, Chef Vatche Moukhtarian of Cracked Pepper Bistro, Executive Chefs (and Owners) Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz of Noosh and Chef Tu David Phy of Banhmi-Ni. Dishes being prepared include Honey Fried Chicken, Lahmajune, Sabich, and Pizza.
2019 NVFF: 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 2019 NVFF will celebrate these talented folks on three occasions:
On November 14, the Celebrity Tribute event will share video clips of each honoree’s work and live onstage interviews. Honorees include Charles Krug Legendary Actor Kevin Bacon (Apollo 13, A Few Good Men, Footloose, JFK, Murder in the First, Taking Chance, Tremors), Blackbird Vineyards Visionary Vanessa Hudgens (The Frozen Ground, Gimme Shelter, Grease Live!, High School Musical, Thirteen), and Spotlight Artist Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Idiotsitter, Rough Night, SuperMansion).
On November 15, a separate Tribute at Raymond Vineyards will focus on Trailblazer Olivia Wilde (Booksmart, Her, House, Life Itself, Rush). This event is open for Patron Circle members, filmmakers and industry guests only.
On November 16, the NVFF presents its Rising Star Showcase, a moderated panel discussion with talented young actors who will share their thoughts on life in the entertainment industry. The 2019 Rising Stars include Jessica Barden (The End of the F*cking World, The New Romantic, Jungleland), Dean-Charles Chapman (Blinded by the Light, Game of Thrones, The King), Jacob Elordi (Euphoria, The Kissing Booth, The Mortuary Collection), Kelsey Asbille (Pair of Kings, Wind River, Yellowstone), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (All Rise, Luce, Monsters and Men), Liana Liberato (Light as a Feather, Measure of a Man, To the Stars), and Mena Massoud (Aladdin, Open Heart, Run This Town). Showcase attendees will also able to enjoy small bites and tastes of wines from Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards.
2019 Napa Valley Film Festival: Tickets and Passes
The 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival has tickets and passes available for purchase online right now. Once the festival is underway, passes and tickets can be purchased (and/or picked up) at the Napa Box Office location. The NVFF functions primarily on a pass system, ranging from 5-day experiences (Wednesday-Sunday) to weekend 3-day experiences (Friday-Sunday). NVFF also sells Rush Tickets to screenings if seats still remain after all pass holders have entered the venue.
Film Festival Pass packages, and how they impact your place in line, are described below.
Flex Pass ($125 per person)
- Access to five screenings on any day of the Festival, afternoon wine tastings
- 3rd Place in Line entry to screenings (after Patron Circle Members, Pass Plus holders and Festival Pass holders)
Festival Pass ($225 per person for Fri-Sun, $295 per person for Wed-Sun) offers:
- Unlimited film screenings for 3 or 5 days
- 2nd Place in Line entry to screenings (after Patron Circle Members and Pass Plus holders)
- Access to afternoon wine tastings in Napa and St. Helena Festival Hubs
- Access to culinary demonstrations
Pass Plus ($575 per person for Fri-Sun, $695 per person for Wed – Sun) has everything in the Festival Pass, but with 1st Place in Line entry to screenings (after Patron Circle Members), and entrance to the Festival’s major special events:
- Festival Gala
- Friday Night Bash
- Celebrity Tributes (for Wed-Sun Pass Plus holders)
- Opening Night Party (for Wed-Sun Pass Plus holders)
2019 NVFF: The Patron Circle
Of course, the most elevated experiences at the 2019 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.
Unique Patron Circle experiences at the NVFF include Vintner Circle Dinners, intimate evenings of food, wine and conversations about cinematic storytelling. Some of the partnerships for 2019 are Chef Ken Frank at Acumen Wines, Chef Masaharu Morimoto at Blackbird Vineyards, Chef Tony Spleen at Charles Krug Winery, Chef Daniel Gomez at Ackerman Heritage House, Chef Alex Lovick at Inglenook, Chef Chris Cosentino at Revana Family Vineyard, Chef Casey Thompson at ZD Wines.
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 Patron Circle-exclusive events such as the First Look Reception, Celebrity Tributes, and Variety’s Film to Table($1500 is tax deductible)
- A-Lister ($5,000 per person) – Patron level benefits plus special A-Lister events such as the A-List Dinner Party, the Film Industry Mixer, and priority selection for the Vintner Circle Dinners. ($3700 is tax deductible)
- Movie Mogul ($25,000 per person)– This membership level also includes dedicated luxury car and driver service throughout the festival, Green Room Access at the Celebrity Tributes, the Movie Mogul Dinner at Meadowood Napa Valley, and upgraded concierge service during the Festival. ($20,000 tax deductible)
For full details on the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival, including details on all of the films, please go here. If you are coming to the 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.