2004 Mill Valley Film Festival

I almost never leave SF unless I’m stepping on an airplane to go across the country*. But the line-up for this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival may move me to rally some film-loving City folks for a road trip or two. There are screenings of several high visibility films slated for October NYC screenings at the New York Film Festival, but the bulk of the screenings includes several dozen U.S. premieres.

My picks for some of the highlights from the Mill Valley Film Festival schedule:

  • Finding Neverland — this opening night film, starring Johnny Depp as British playwright J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. The film also stars Kate WInslet and Julie Christie. Unfortunately, after the members only ticket sales, this film is already at RUSH (day of waiting in line to by no-show tickets) status.
  • Vera Drake — as part of the festival’s tribute to Mike Leigh, which will include an on-stage Q&A, there will be a screening of Leigh‘s new film. Leigh won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for this film, while lead actress Imelda Staunton was recognized for her work as well.
  • Antares — recently screened at the Toronto FIlm Festival, is a German film that explores the emotional ties and social conventions that bind people to each other, and looks
  • Hair High — Bill Plympton fans who missed his latest film at the SF Indie Film Fest earlier this year get a second crack at it.
  • Head-On — This German film explores the lives of second generation Turks living in Germany and won top honors at the Berlin Film Festival.
  • The Nomi Song — On eof two MVFF films playing at the Castro Theatre in SF, this is a documentary on avant-garde entertainer Klaus Nomi, perhaps best known for his performance on Saturday Night Live with David Bowie in 1980.
  • Primer — Generating lots of buzz due to its cast of unknowns and $7k budget, this indie film centers on the premise of the blessing and curse of being able to have anything you want.
  • Stage Beauty — costume drama (that’s been compared to Shakespeare in Love for obvious reasons) on what happens to a celebrated leading lady (a gentleman) once women are allowed on stage.
  • Stella Street — an outgrowth of a British comedy series, featuring Phil Cornwall and John Sessions as a variety of celebrities.
  • Undertow — a thriller about a disintegrating Southern family, starring Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas.

A big change from previous years is the lack of the the CinéArts@Sequoia Theatre venue. due to a collapsed ceiling last month. This means all their printed materials are wrong, and they are relying upon the website and ticket hotline to inform folks of the venue change resulting in all those films moving to the Regency in San Rafael.

The screenings are not transit friendly, alas (unless you consider spending 1.5-2 hours each way and $8 nice), which means, as in previous years, I probably won’t be attending any of these screenings. Too bad we don’t have some sort of special Mill Valley Film Festival shuttle from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal…you’d think they could get some SUV or mini van manufacturer or even a local limo rental firm to sponsor it…

* This is due primarily to my not being a driver. But the smug satisfaction that I live in a City that serves up more than I could ever possibly have time to do or money to afford is another major factor.

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