The 45th edition of the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF), presented annually by the California Film Institute (CAFILM), has announced its full lineup for the October fest, including Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, White Noise, Till, as well as tributes to Brendan Fraser (The Whale), James Gray (Armageddon Time), plus Frances McDormand in attendance for the Mind the Gap Spotlight presentation of Sarah Polley’s Women Talking and more. Internationally recognized for showcasing the best in independent and world cinema, MVFF provides thousands of attendees with a chance to catch an early glimpse of potential Academy Award contenders and discover some of the best films from around the world.
With a diverse lineup of acclaimed films, MVFF will continue to be a hybrid event in 2022, featuring a limited selection of online screenings through the CAFILM Streaming Room and in-person screenings and events throughout the Bay Area, including 11 days at the CinéArts Sequoia in Mill Valley and Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, October 6 -16, 2022. The Festival also returns, with a limited number of screenings, to the Lark Theater in Larkspur, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in Berkeley, and for the first time will screen at The Roxie Theater in San Francisco.
The Festival will screen 145 films representing 34 countries, including 49 premieres, 74 features, and 71 shorts; 53.8% of all films across the 2022 Festival are directed by women.
“We are so excited to be back in person to celebrate this milestone anniversary, 45 years!” said MVFF Founder/Director Mark Fishkin. “The MVFF Programming team has worked hard to curate an amazing selection of films and I’m delighted to share that lineup with all of you. We truly have something for everyone this year”, Fishkin continued “as I’ve said many times, MVFF is a place where empathy is created through the power of film and I encourage you to explore all the offerings we have to share with you this year; the programs are diverse, entertaining, and truly a place for discovery in the widest definition of the word. I thank you, our dear community, for growing with us over the past 44 years and look forward to many more years to come.”
“This year is kind of like the phoenix rising, out of the ashes of the craziness of the last few years, 2022 is proving to be an extraordinary year for extraordinary films,” said Zoë Elton, MVFF Director of Programming. “I’m amazed by how many filmmakers are presenting such profound and original work this year.”
Opening Night, Thursday, October 6, is the US Premiere of Rian Johnson’s highly anticipated Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, featuring an in-person conversation with Johnson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson.; the Centerpiece presentation Tuesday, October 11, is Chinonye Chukwu’s profoundly emotional drama Till; and Closing Night, Sunday, October 16, will be the West Coast Premiere screening of Tobias Lindholm’s The Good Nurse featuring an in-person conversation with Eddie Redmayne, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Tobias Lindholm.
MVFF45 will present several Spotlights and Tributes throughout the Festival. This year’s Spotlight programs include writer/director Nikyatu Jusu presenting her debut feature Nanny, which received the 2022 Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize; Noah Baumbach returns to Mill Valley with his latest film White Noise, and to receive the MVFF Award for Screenwriting; and Frances McDormand will be in attendance for the Mind the Gap Spotlight presentation of Women Talking, which will receive the Mind the Gap Award in recognition of the incredible cast and their work as an ensemble under Sarah Polley’s direction. Festival Tribute programs include Brendan Fraser for his exceptional performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, and acclaimed filmmaker James Gray who will be here with the semi-autobiographical Armageddon Time. Celebrating their brilliant creativity and ongoing commitment to truth in their work, acclaimed writer/director Chinonye Chukwu and actor Danielle Deadwyler will receive the Mind the Gap Award at the MVFF Centerpiece presentation of Till.
Many local films and filmmakers are being celebrated during MVFF45, including the World Premieres of The Art of Eating: The Life of M.F.K. Fisher, directed by Bay Area filmmaker Gregory Bezat, Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? directed by Yvan Iturriaga and Francisco Núñez Capriles, Faultline directed by Bay Area Auteur Rob Nilsson, and Town Destroyer directed by Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow. Other notable premieres by local filmmakers include the North American Premiere of Tukdam-Between Two Worlds, directed by Donagh Coleman, who is currently attending UC Berkeley, and The Grab, a gripping documentary that follows a group of Bay Area journalists who uncover a global group secretly gobbling up scarce resources in a time of climate chaos.
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
Rian Johnson brings together a to-die-for ensemble for his smashing new Knives Out murder mystery. With a wily brilliance, Johnson’s script leaves no trope untrodden: At a high-tech, exotic island hideaway, his brilliant cast of characters—disruptors and suspects all—play out this whodunnit with wit and aplomb. The much-anticipated follow up to the smash hit, Academy Award -nominated, murder mystery Knives Out, sees the return of Daniel Craig as Detective “Benoit Blanc” and follows a new cast, including Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, and Janelle Monáe.
Attending the Opening Night festivities will be Rian Johnson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, and producer Ram Bergman.
THE GOOD NURSE
Suspicious that her colleague (Academy Award Winner Eddie Redmayne) is responsible for a series of mysterious patient deaths, a nurse (Academy Award Winner Jessica Chastain) risks her own life to uncover the truth in this gripping thriller based on true events. From Director award-winning Danish screenwriter and film director Tobias Lindholm, The Good Nurse is his first English language feature film.
Attending the Closing Night festivities will be Eddie Redmayne, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Tobias Lindholm.
From Award-winning director Chinonye Chukwy (Clemency, MVFF42), TILL is a profoundly emotional and cinematic film about the true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s (Danielle Deadwyler) relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world. Till is written by Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp, and Chukwu. The ensemble cast includes Deadwyler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole, Kevin Carroll, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Haley Bennett.
Chinonye Chukwu and Danielle Deadwyler will be in attendance for an on-stage conversation and to accept the Mind the Gap Award celebrating their brilliant creativity in Till and ongoing commitment to truth in their work.
In this psychological fable of displacement from writer and director Nikyatu Jusu, Aisha (Anna Diop), a woman who recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the daughter of an affluent couple (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) living in New York City. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S. but becomes increasingly unsettled by the family’s volatile home life. As his arrival approaches, a violent presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together. Writer/Director Nikyatu Jusu will receive the MVFF Award for Feature Debut; actress Anna Diop will join Jusu for an onstage conversation following the screening.
At once hilarious and horrifying, lyrical and absurd, ordinary and apocalyptic, dramatizes a contemporary American family’s attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world. Based on the 1985 National Book Award-winning novel by Don DeLillo, written for the screen and directed by Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, MVFF42), produced by Noah Baumbach (p.g.a) and David Heyman (p.g.a.). Produced by Uri Singer.
Director/Screenwriter Noah Baumbach will receive the MVFF Award for Screenwriting and be present for an onstage conversation.
In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Powerful performances drive director Sarah Polley’s (Away from Her, Stories We Tell) moving adaptation of Miriam Toews’ best-selling novel with an exquisite ensemble cast that includes Frances McDormand, Judith Ivey, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Ben Whishaw.
The Mind the Gap Award will be given in recognition of the incredible cast and their work as an ensemble under Sarah Polley’s direction. Producer/actor Frances McDormand will be on hand for a special onstage conversation, presentation of the Mind the Gap Award for Ensemble and screening of Women Talking.
Acclaimed writer-director James Gray fashions his own family memories into the semi-autobiographical character study Armageddon Time, a deeply personal story on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship and the generational pursuit of the American Dream. The film features an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.
Award-winning director James Gray will receive the MVFF Award for Directing
From Darren Aronofsky (Variety Contenders, MVFF37) comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter (Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch, MVFF45). – West Coast Premiere
Actor Brendan Fraser will receive the MVFF Award for Acting
Alcarràs (Spain/Italy, narrative feature, dir. Carla Simón) In Carla Simón’s gorgeous ensemble drama, a Catalan family running a peach orchard experiences turmoil when the land’s owner decides to replace the trees with solar panels. Now the family must fight for its survival, as three generations struggle to preserve hope, and memories, for future generations. Recipient of the Golden Bear, Berlinale 2022. In Catalan with English Subtitles – US Premiere
Argentina, 1985 (Argentina/US, narrative feature dir. Santiago Mitre) Argentina, 1985 is inspired by the true story of Julio Strassera, Luis Moreno Ocampo and their young legal team of unlikely heroes in their David-vs-Goliath battle in which, under constant threat, they dared to prosecute Argentina’s bloodiest military dictatorship against all odds and in a race against time to bring justice to the victims of the Military Junta. In Spanish with English Subtitles
The Banshees of Inisherin (Ireland/UK/US, narrative feature dir. Martin McDonagh) Two lifelong friends (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.
The Blue Caftan (France/Morocco/Belgium/Denmark, narrative feature, dir. Maryam Touzani) Set at a bespoke dress shop in Morocco, this unusual love-triangle tale avoids heated melodrama, instead exploring the lives of its three main characters with intimacy and great tenderness. Expert performances and a stirring resolution reveal the complexities and profundities of enduring love. In Arabic with English subtitles – California Premiere
Boy From Heaven (Sweden, narrative feature, dir. Tarik Saleh) Tarik Saleh mixes moviemaking styles familiar from the likes of John le Carré’s spy dramas and Terry Gilliam’s dark comedies for a satirical thriller about mingled religious and secular institutions in Egypt. More than ten years after the Arab Spring, this story is as timely as ever, relevant no matter where in the world you live. In Arabic with English subtitles – US Premiere
Broker (South Korea, narrative feature, dir. Kore-Eda Hirokazu) Song Kang-ho deservedly won Best Actor at Cannes for his performance in this bittersweet road-trip drama about a black-market business selling infants left at baby boxes. Well known for his emotional stories, Shoplifters (MVFF41) writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda takes us on another poignant ride. In Korean with English subtitles
Charcoal (Argentina/Brazil, narrative feature, dir. Carolina Markowicz) Writer-director Carolina Markowicz’s satire centers on an upheaval in the quiet life of a rural Brazilian family as they accept an ominous proposal. With utterly fearless performances, this drily funny, evocative debut confirms Markowicz as a talent to watch. In Portuguese with English subtitles – US Premiere
Chile 1976 (Chile/Argentina/Qatar, narrative feature, dir. Manuela Martelli) Chilean housewife Carmen, played with sublime control by Aline Küppenheim, renovates her beach house. One day a local priest asks her to harbor a fugitive — a moral act that stirs Carmen from complacent daydreaming into the waking nightmare of General Augusto Pinochet’s military junta. In Spanish with English subtitles – US Premiere
Close (Belgium/Netherlands/France, narrative feature, dir. Lukas Dhont) This assured character drama, the Grand Prix winner at Cannes, examines the bond between two 13-year-olds (Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele) who seem inseparable—until tragedy strikes. Belgian director Lukas Dhont (Girl) collaborates with his sensitive young actors to create a snapshot of boyhood so intimate and entrancing that it resembles a dream. In Dutch, Flemish, and French with English subtitles – Bay Area Premiere
Corsage (Austria/France/Germany/Luxembourg, narrative feature, dir. Marie Kreutzer) In a stellar performance that won her Best Actress at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, Vicky Krieps (Bergman Island, MVFF44) vividly inhabits Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the beloved but restless 19th-century ruler, at midlife. Writer-director Marie Kreutzer’s costume drama deftly portrays the plight of a woman trapped by the beauty of her public image. In English, French, German and Hungarian with English subtitles
Decision to Leave (South Korea, narrative feature, dir. Park Chan-wook) Oldboy auteur Park Chan-wook’s (The Handmaiden, MVFF39) Hitchcockian romantic thriller stars Park Hae-il as a detective investigating a puzzling death, his suspicions falling on the deceased’s eerily enigmatic wife (Tang Wei). This Cannes Best Director prize-winner delivers a shimmering portrait of obsession and the mysteries of the human heart. South Korea’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. In Korean with English subtitles – US Premiere
EO (Poland/Italy, narrative feature, dir. Jerzy Skolimowski) Revered Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski creates a magical new way of seeing the world in a film that chronicles nature’s beauty alongside human kindness and cruelty, from a donkey’s point of view. Awarded the 2022 Cannes Jury Prize, this beguiling tale renders our silent protagonist’s journey across Poland and Italy an entrancing, hyper-vivid odyssey. Poland’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. In Polish, Italian, English, and French with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Holy Spider (Denmark, narrative feature, dir. Ali Abbasi) Filmmaker Ali Abbasi follows up his acclaimed drama Border (MVFF41) with this tense and unapologetically feminist procedural based on actual events. Zar Amir Ebrahimi won Best Actress at Cannes for her ferocious portrayal of an Iranian journalist on the case of a serial killer who, in striking down sex workers, insists he is doing God’s work. In Iranian languages with English subtitles – Bay Area Premiere
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (UK/US, narrative feature, dir. Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre) Based on the classic D.H. Lawrence novel, a story well ahead of its time, we follow the life of Lady Chatterley, a woman born to a life of wealth and privilege, who soon finds herself married to a man that she eventually falls out of love with. Lady Chatterley engages in a torrid affair with a gamekeeper on their English estate, discovering more desire and intimacy than she thought possible. When she realizes that she has fallen heart and soul, she breaks all traditions of the day and seeks happiness with the man she loves.
Living (UK, narrative feature, dir. Oliver Hermanus) An ineffectual bureaucrat (played by the incomparable Bill Nighy) learns he only has six months to live in this beautiful drama that examines what happens when a man realizes he has long avoided the very things that give his life meaning. – California Premiere
The Lost King (UK, narrative feature, dir. Stephen Frears) In this shaggy-dog story from legendary British director Stephen Frears, Sally Hawkins (Spencer, MVFF44) is extraordinary as the real-life woman who was determined to restore King Richard III’s reputation, and figured out he was buried underneath a Leicester parking lot.
Mother and Son (France, narrative feature, dir. Léonor Serraille) Presented in triptych form, Léonor Serraille’s beautifully sweeping second feature is the story of a woman who moves from the Ivory Coast to France in 1989 with her two sons. Each section explores one of these three richly-scripted characters. Elegant and elegiac, Mother and Son is a masterful portrait of diasporic familial bonds and the complexities of parenthood. In French with English subtitles – California Premiere
My Policeman (UK/US, narrative feature dir. Michael Grandage) A story of forbidden love and changing social conventions, My Policeman follows three young people – policeman Tom (Harry Styles), teacher Marion (Emma Corrin), and museum curator Patrick (David Dawson)– as they embark on an emotional journey in 1950s Britain. Flashing forward to the 1990s, Tom (Linus Roache), Marion (Gina McKee), and Patrick (Rupert Everett) are still reeling with longing and regret, but now they have one last chance to repair the damage of the past. Based on the book by Bethan Roberts, director Michael Grandage carves a visually transporting, heart-stopping portrait of three people caught up in the shifting tides of history, liberty, and forgiveness.
One Fine Morning (France, narrative feature, dir. Mia Hansen-Løve) Even more moving for eschewing excess drama, writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve’s subtle film is a bittersweet exploration of how the vicissitudes of fate and the passage of time shape identities. Featuring Léa Seydoux as Sandra, a translator and single mom, caring for her ailing father. In French with English subtitles – California Premiere
Our Brothers (France, narrative feature, dir. Rachid Bouchareb) Police will stop at nothing to hide their misconduct in this look back with anger at the murders of Abdel Benyahia and Malik Oussekine in 1986 Paris. French director Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory, MVFF29) infuses this true story with the solemn air of a procedural, delivering a drama of cleansing fury. Algeria’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. In French with English subtitles – North American Premiere
The Passengers of the Night (France, narrative feature, dir. Mikhaël Hers) Longtime Gallic cinema favorite Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a newly single woman in 1980s Paris. Along with her children, she navigates an eventful decade of personal change in director Mikhaël Hers‘ superbly written and acted drama of ordinary lives that nonetheless prove distinctively engrossing. In French with English subtitles – US Premiere
Plan 75 (Japan, narrative feature, dir. Chie Hayakawa) This dystopian drama may provoke comparisons to Logan’s Run or Soylent Green, but director Chie Hayakawa’s tender and visionary film resonates in unexpected ways. Veteran actor Chieko Baisho stars as an elderly woman in a near-future society in which the Japanese government offers senior citizens a stipend for ending their own lives. Japan’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. In Japanese with English subtitles – US Premiere
Return to Dust (China, narrative feature, dir. Li Ruijun) Set in rural China and infused with the beauty of the seasons, Ruijun Li’s unusual love story is a delicate portrait of middle-aged outcasts who overcome family rejection and poverty to find in each other the hope, love, and companionship they never knew was possible. In Mandarin with English subtitles; This title also available via streaming – US Premiere
Rodeo (France, narrative feature, dir. Lola Quivoron) In Lola Quivoron’s exhilarating narrative feature debut, a young woman joins an all-male group of daredevil motorcyclists tied to a local kingpin. She soon discovers that her camaraderie with the gang is illusory, and revolts against their pervasive machismo while developing a close bond with the kingpin’s wife and child. In French with English subtitles – US Premiere
The Son (US/France/UK, narrative feature, dir. Florian Zeller) Florian Zeller (The Father, MVFF43) returns with a new family drama, in which a dad (Hugh Jackman) discovers his son suffers from severe depression. Anchored by Jackman’s incredible performance and strong supporting turns from Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, and Anthony Hopkins, it’s an unflinching look at the effect of mental illness on everyone involved. – California Premiere
The Swimmers (UK/US, narrative feature, dir. Sally El Hosaini) Based on a true story, The Swimmersfollows the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Two young sisters embark on a harrowing journey as refugees, putting both their hearts and champion swimming skills to heroic use.
Tár (US, narrative feature, dir. Todd Field) A transcendent Cate Blanchett brilliantly portrays Lydia Tár, one of the greatest composer-conductors who never lived: a genius, an EGOT, and the first ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Todd Field’s inventive and fascinating character study explores the dynamics of international classical music with a wily sensibility. – West Coast Premiere
Whina (New Zealand, narrative feature, dirs. James Napier Robertson, Paula Whetu Jones) This inspirational drama recounts the extraordinary life of New Zealand’s Dame Whina Cooper, a courageous Māori woman whose lifelong activism on behalf of her people culminated at age 79, when she led a month-long march stretching the length of the country from North to South, to protest the loss of Indigenous land. In English and Maori with English subtitles – North American Premiere
The Wonder (UK/US/Ireland, narrative feature dir. Sebastian Lelio) The Irish Midlands, 1862 – a young girl stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright (Florence Pugh) is brought to a tiny village to observe eleven-year old Anna O’Donnell. Tourists and pilgrims mass to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months. Is the village harboring a saint ‘surviving on manna from heaven’ or are there more ominous motives at work? A psychological thriller inspired by the 19th century phenomenon of the “fasting girls” and adapted from the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue (Room).
Xalé (Senegal, narrative feature dir. Moussa Sène Abs) Acclaimed Senegalese director Moussa Sene Absa (Madame Brouette, MVFF26) unites ancient and contemporary modes of storytelling in this visually stunning and emotionally resonant tale of familial love, loyalty, and diaspora. In Wolof with English subtitles – US Premiere
Armageddon Time (US, narrative feature, dir. James Gray) From acclaimed filmmaker James Gray, Armageddon Time is a deeply personal story on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship and the generational pursuit of the American Dream. The film features an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.
Call Jane (US, narrative feature, dir. Phyllis Nagy) Carol (MVFF38) screenwriter Phyllis Nagy directs this warm, uplifting period piece about the Janes, providers of safe abortions before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made them legal nationwide. At its center, Elizabeth Banks sparkles in a poignant turn as a housewife whose search for the procedure leads to a new calling. – California Premiere
Causeway (US, narrative feature, dir. Lila Neugebauer) Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway is an intimate portrait of a soldier struggling to adjust to her life after returning home to New Orleans.
Faultline (US, narrative feature, dir. Rob Nilsson) This latest feature from celebrated Bay Area filmmaker Rob Nilsson is the third installment in his breathtaking Nomad Trilogy, in which colorful wanderers uncover deep human truths about our divided country. Set against breathtaking natural wonders, Faultline is equal parts shocking and calming, a gritty and beautiful cinematic poem. – World Premiere
Four Samosas (US, narrative feature, dir. Ravi Kapoor) Following a motley quartet of misfits in suburban L.A.’s “Little India,” Ravi Kapoor’s heartfelt and hilarious indie heist caper dives sweetly into loves lost, misunderstood youth, and the value of finding one’s crew.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (US, narrative feature, dir. RIan Johnson) Rian Johnson brings together a to-die-for ensemble for his smashing new Knives Out murder mystery. With a wily brilliance, Johnson’s script leaves no trope untrodden: At a high-tech, exotic island hideaway, his brilliant cast of characters—disruptors and suspects all—play out this whodunnit with wit and aplomb.
The Good Nurse (US, narrative feature dir. Tobias Lindholm) Suspicious that her colleague (Academy Award® Winner Eddie Redmayne) is responsible for a series of mysterious patient deaths, a nurse (Academy Award® Winner Jessica Chastain) risks her own life to uncover the truth in this gripping thriller based on true events. – West Coast Premiere
Nanny (US, narrative feature, dir. Nikyatu Jusu) In this psychological fable of displacement, Aisha (Anna Diop), a woman who recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the daughter of an affluent couple (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) living in New York City. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S. but becomes increasingly unsettled by the family’s volatile home life. As his arrival approaches, a violent presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together.
Our Father, the Devil (US, narrative feature, dir. Ellie Foumbi) In Cameroonian-American filmmaker Ellie Foumbi’s ravishing and provocative feature debut, an African refugee’s modest life in a sleepy French mountain town is irrevocably shattered when she recognizes a newly arrived Catholic priest as a disturbing figure from her violent past. In French with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Provo (US, narrative feature, dir. Emma Thatcher) In her insightful and wistfully funny feature debut, writer-director-star Emma Thatcher plays a young woman on an impromptu road trip from Illinois to Utah for a last visit with her dying, estranged father. With whip-smart dialogue, unexpected revelations, and beautiful handheld camerawork, the trip to Provo is a journey worth taking. This title also available via streaming – West Coast Premiere
She Said (US, narrative feature, dir. Maria Schrader) Two – time Academy Award® nominee Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman, An Education) and Zoe Kazan (The Plot Against America limited series, The Big Sick) star as New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who together broke one of the most important stories in a generation — a story that helped propel the #Metoo movement, shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood and altered American culture forever.
Sunnyland (US, narrative feature, dir. Xavier Medina) A kindred spirit to Sean Baker’s warmhearted childhood odyssey The Florida Project, Xavi Medina’s compassionate debut relates the tender story of a five-year-old Miami girl’s determination to see the ocean for the first time. This title also available via streaming – West Coast Premiere
Till (US, narrative feature, dir. Chinonye Chukwu) Till is a profoundly emotional and cinematic film about the true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14 year old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world.
Triple Trouble (US, narrative feature, dirs. Homer Flynn, The Residents) The latest issuance from long-running Bay Area avant-garde innovators The Residents is a wacky, surreal tale of paranoid panic that incorporates elements from their famously abandoned 1970s-era feature project Vileness Fats. It’s a San Francisco-set black-and-white comic nightmare whose hero is asked, “Are you taking your meds?” Of course, he’s not! This title also available via streaming – California Premiere
The Unknown Country (US, narrative feature, dir. Morissa Maltz) With a staggering sense of humanity, Morrisa Maltz’s documentary-narrative hybrid follows a grieving young woman (Lily Gladstone) on a road trip across the American Midwest — contemplating death and rebirth amidst a magnificent, heart-wrenching search for one’s place in the world. – Bay Area Premiere
The Whale (US, narrative feature, dir. Darren Aronofsky) From Darren Aronofsky (Variety Contenders, MVFF37) comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter. – West Coast Premiere
White Noise (US, documentary feature, dir. Noah Baumbach) At once hilarious and horrifying, lyrical and absurd, ordinary and apocalyptic, White Noise dramatizes a contemporary American family’s attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.
Women Talking (US, narrative feature, dir. Sarah Polley) In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Based on the novel by Miriam Toews. Sarah Polley’s (Away from Her, Stories We Tell) ensemble cast includes Frances McDormand, Judith Ivey, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Ben Whishaw.
VALLEY OF THE DOCS
The Art of Eating: The Life of M.F.K. Fisher (US, documentary feature, dir. Gregory Bezat) San Francisco director Gregory Bezat’s well-balanced documentary reintroduces M.F.K. Fisher, the great mid-century pioneer of culinary literature who invented a genre with her stylish observations on food and elevated cooking from humble domestic chore to celebration of life. – World Premiere
Body Parts (US, documentary feature, dir. Kristy Guevara-Flanagan) Hollywood stars and relative unknowns alike share their experiences shooting sex scenes for TV and movies in this wide-ranging primer on the perils of being female in Hollywood. Deftly intercut among the interviews are copious movie clips illustrating how women’s bodies have been used throughout movie history. – California Premiere
Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues (US, documentary feature, dir. Bestor Cram) Directed with vim by Bestor Cram, this vibrant documentary depicts the life and times of the great harmonica player whose outsize influence shaped the Chicago blues style and changed rock ‘n’ roll forever. Bonnie Blue takes the measure of an American musical great, celebrating his excesses and defining his impact. This title also available via streaming – California Premiere
Deconstructing Karen (US, documentary feature, dir. Patty Ivins Specht) What happens when liberal white women’s views on racism and privilege are challenged over dinner and drinks? Remarkably, some growth. Race2Dinner founders Regina Jackson and Saira Rao set the table for difficult but desperately needed conversations about American racism in this documentary executive produced by Anna Paquin.
Descendant (US, documentary feature, dir. Margaret Brown) Descendants of the last US slave ship relate their families’ stories in Margaret Brown’s important and thought-provoking documentary. By gathering this history, Brown crafts a powerful testimonial highlighting the effects of the slave trade on modern Black Americans.
ELEMENTAL: Reimagining Our Relationship with Wildfire (US, documentary feature, dir. Trip Jennings) Frightening in its imagery and compelling in its thesis, Trip Jennings’ documentary offers a new perspective on the raging infernos that threaten homes, forests, and entire communities. Most importantly, while the film illustrates the seriousness of the problem, it also offers potential solutions. This title also available via streaming – Bay Area Premiere
Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (US, documentary feature, dirs. Yvan Iturriaga, Francisco Nuñez Capriles) This locally made doc explores the super-sized life of soulful bluesman and Grammy Award winner Fantastic Negrito, from isolation as a Black Muslim kid in rural Massachusetts to reinventing himself countless times until finally becoming a star on the streets of Oakland. This title also available via streaming – World Premiere
Finding Her Beat (US, documentary feature, dirs. Dawn Mikkelson, Keri Pickett) Right before pandemic lockdown 2020, eighteen leading Japanese and North American women taiko drummers realize their shared dream with the groundbreaking performance, HERbeat: Taiko Women All-Stars. In this full-bodied, male-dominated artform, they weave together their own joyful rhythms and styles to thunder through the taiko world and beyond. This title also available via streaming – California Premiere
Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Ukraine/UK/USA, documentary feature, dir. Evgeny Afineevsky) Documentarian Evgeny Afineevsky’s follow-up to his Oscar®-nominated Winter on Fire chronicles Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, combining you-are-there footage of attacks in Kyiv with testimonials from citizens dealing with the aftermath. It is also a tribute to the bravery and resistance of the Ukrainian people.
The Grab (US, documentary feature, dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite) From director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who produced the award-winning Blackfish, this gripping documentary follows a group of Bay Area journalists who uncover a global cabal secretly gobbling up scarce resources in a time of climate chaos. The Grab’s well-crafted revelations make for a tense, of-the-moment geopolitical thriller. – US Premiere
Home Is Somewhere Else (US, animated documentary feature dirs. Carlos, Hagerman, Jorge Villalobos) Three distinctive visual styles illuminate individual stories in this heartfelt animated documentary that measures the impact of American immigration policy, injecting empathy into a political debate long overwrought with rhetoric. In Spanish and English with Spanish subtitles; This title also available via streaming – US Premiere
Path of the Panther (US, documentary feature, dir. Eric Bendick) A wildlife photographer, veterinarians, ranchers, conservationists, and indigenous people of the southern Everglades join forces to track and protect the endangered Florida panther. In this moving documentary, stunning images of the big cats spur the movement to restore a majestic keystone species as well as dwindling wilderness. This title also available via streaming – California Premiere
The Quiet Epidemic (US, documentary feature, dirs. Lindsay Keys, Winslow Crane-Murdoch) This investigative documentary examines the medical establishment’s denial of chronic Lyme Disease, the devastating effect of that denial on long-term sufferers, and how this flawed consensus coincided with explosive profits from federally funded research patents and the growth of managed care. This title also available via streaming – Bay Area Premiere
Santos – Skin to Skin (US, documentary feature, dir. Kathryn Golden) This brilliantly energetic portrait of Bay Area music legend, activist, and seven-time Grammy nominee John Santos reveals a hard-working musician and educator as dedicated to preserving and expanding Afro-Latin music as he is to navigating the politics of culture, social equality, and racial injustice. This title also available via streaming – California Premiere
Searching for Sugar Man (Sweden, UK, Finland, documentary feature dir. Malik Bendjelloul) The incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest ‘70s rock icon who never was. After being discovered in a Detroit bar, Rodriguez’s sound struck 2 renowned producers and they signed a recording deal. But when the album bombed, the singer disappeared into obscurity. A bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero.
Sophia (US, documentary feature, dirs. Jon Kasbe, Crystal Moselle) An exploration of brilliance and frailty in the pursuit of an artistic ideal, this doc follows ingenious but unsettled roboticist David Hanson as he and his team struggle to create the most lifelike artificial intelligence ever built. Hanson wants to perfect his project, but his investors and the marketplace have other plans. – California Premiere
Still Working 9 to 5 (US, documentary feature, dirs. Camille Harmand, Gary Lane) This eye-opening documentary looks at the iconic 1980 screwball feminist revenge comedy 9 to 5 through a contemporary lens and reveals how the struggles it depicts still persist. Featuring stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Dabney Coleman, both then and now. – California Premiere
Town Destroyer (US, documentary feature, dirs. Deborah Kaufman, Alan Snitow) On the walls of a San Francisco high school, a nearly century-old mural depicting George Washington’s life recently provoked furious debate, from local public hearings to the pages of The New York Times. Would its removal constitute belated “reparations” for Black and Native communities, or “politically correct” censorship? This title also available via streaming – World Premiere
Tukdam – Between Worlds (Finland/Ireland/Estonia, documentary feature dir. Donagh Coleman) Ancient tradition and modern science collide in this extraordinary documentary about the Tibetan Buddhist practice of meditating at the deepest level of consciousness right before death. Researchers investigate how, for practitioners of “tukdam,” the cessation of the body’s functions is not necessarily life’s clear-cut end but instead a pliant threshold. This title also available via streaming – North American Premiere
Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb (US, documentary feature, dir. Lizzie Gottlieb) Lizzie Gottlieb’s fascinating documentary explores the significance of the intersecting life’s work of her father, writer and editor Robert Gottlieb, and biographer Robert Caro, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York and the influential multi-volume The Years of Lyndon Johnson. – California Premiere
The Young Vote (US, documentary feature, dir. Diane Robinson) With the power to make meaningful change at the ballot box, Americans aged 18 to 29 stubbornly sit out elections far more than any other age group. Diane Robinson’s documentary follows the highs and lows during 2020’s fraught election season as four youth-led initiatives attempt to engage this disaffected group. This title also available via streaming – California Premiere
Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls (Canada, narrative feature, dir. Julianna Notten) Following the trials and tribulations of gay middle-schooler Erin (Elliot Stocking) on a quest to experience her first kiss, this tender and witty ode to today’s youth advocates for being your authentic self, while highlighting the messiness inherent in growing up. Ages 11+ This title also available via streaming – West Coast Premiere
Oink (Netherlands/Belgium, animated feature, dir. Mascha Halberstad) This infectiously charming stop-motion animated feature is a sweet love story between a vegetarian girl and her pet piglet, set against the ‘high-steaks’ backdrop of her village’s competitive sausage-making contest. More Roald Dahl than Babe or Charlotte’s Web, its clever message about animal cruelty is sure to satisfy both herbivores and carnivores alike. Age 7+ In Dutch with English subtitles – Bay Area Premiere
We Dream of Robots, (Uruguay, documentary feature, dir. Pablo Casacuberta) A determined group of teenagers from the Uruguayan countryside tackle math, science, and the physics of friendship as they get set to test their skills in the first robotics competition ever held in Latin America. This inspiring doc showcases the creative spark that fuels their dedication to building a better future for all. Ages 10+ In Spanish with English subtitles; This title also available via streaming – North American Premiere
Animation for All
Puppies, babies, and bears, oh my! We’ve once again scoured the globe for the best collection of animated short films for audiences of every age to enjoy. Funny characters and curious kids mingle with gentle lessons about kindness to animals, why not to be afraid of being afraid, how dandelions are born, and so much more: Kayak (Solène Bosseboeuf, Flore Dechorgnat, Tiphaine Klein, Auguste Lefort & Antoine Rossi, France 2021, 6 min), Andy: A Dog’s Tale (James Wheless, US 2021, 8 min), Bench (Rich Webber, UK 2020, 2 min), Kiko and the Animals (Yawen Zheng, France/Switzerland 2020, 7 min), My Name Is Fear(Eliza Płocieniak-Alvarez, Germany 2021, 5 min), The Most Boring Granny in the Whole World (Damaris Zielke, Germany 2022, 7 min), Patouille and the Parachute Seeds (Inès Bernard-Espina, Mélody Boulissière & Clémentine Campos, France 2021, 6 min), Salt (Alicia Scott Nichols, US 2020, 6 min), Winter Sleep (Katerina Karhankova & Alexandra Majova, Czech Republic 2020, 7 min), Wolf and Cub (Marvin Bynoe, US 2021, 8 min), Step by Step (Fanny Paoli, Anabelle David, Emma Gach, Claire Robert, Julie Valentin & Thēodore Janvier, France 2021, 7 min). — Ages 5+ Nonverbal and in English; This program also available via streaming
Free to Be Me
We all can feel a little awkward or insecure sometimes, but the inspiring young people featured in this international selection of short films set fine and admirable examples of how to believe in yourself—regardless of what others might think or say. It’s a fun and eclectic mix of animation, live-action, and documentary (sometimes all in one film), as well as a timely reminder for all of us to respect one another’s differences: Giovanni (Marco Di Gerlando & Ludovica Gibelli, Italy 2021, 5 min), Comic Escape (Alphonso McAuley, US 2021, 15 min), How I Got My Wrinkles (Claude Delafosse, France 2022, 12 min), Just Johnny (Terry Loane, Ireland 2021, 19 min), Stairs (Zoljargal Purevdash, Mongolia 2020, 12 min), Mama Has a Mustache (Sally Rubin, US 2021, 10 min), My Name Is Maalum (Luísa Copetti, Brazil 2021, 8 min). — Age 9+ In English and various languages with English subtitles; This program also available via streaming
Eight short films that empower and inspire. How to Be at Home (Andrea Dorfman, 5 min): An animated poem reflects on coping with pandemic isolation. Close Ties to Home Country (Akanksha Cruczynski, 15 min): An immigrant dog-walker finds connection in the hearts of the pets she cares for. Generation Impact: The Coder (Samantha Knowles, 7 min): A teen girl designs a mobile app to help kids stay connected to their incarcerated parents. Proof of Loss (Katherine Fisher, 14 min): When a fire takes their home, a father and daughter must salvage what remains. When You Clean a Stranger’s Home (Sharon Arteaga, 7 min): A first-generation high-schooler describes what she and her mom learn about people when cleaning their homes. Between the Lines: Liz at Large (Abi Cole, 5 min): Meet first Black woman cartoonist in The New Yorker’s history. Wearable Tracy (Emily McAllister, 12 min): A woman’s social experiment connects her with fellow city dwellers who’d otherwise be strangers. To the Future, With Love (Shaleece Haas & Hunter Jimenez, 7 min): A nonbinary trans teen animates a self-portrait of feeling caught between expectations and dreams. — This program also available via streaming
The New Environmentalists
Narrated by Sigourney Weaver, The New Environmentalists — from Malawi to Peru (US 2022, 30 min) is the latest in the Mill Valley Film Group’s Emmy Award-winning series about dedicated activists with a common goal: safeguarding Earth’s natural resources while fighting for justice in their communities. Evan-Marie Petit’s POMO LAND BACK: A Prayer from the Forest (US 2022, 7 min), created in collaboration with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, aims to honor the vital movement towards indigenous-led stewardship and repatriation of California forests. In Ben Derico’s Hasta la Última Gota (Until the Last Drop) (US 2022, 17 min), the citizens of Chile’s drought-afflicted Petorca Province fight to legislate water as a human right while enormous agribusinesses leech the vital resource from their community for profit. Nancy Kelly’s I’m a Burner (US 2022, 3 min) looks at how the Mountain Maidu tribe has managed forest fires for generations by thinning excess fuel build-up with prescribed burns. In Josh Izenberg and Brett Marty’s Eco-Hack! (US 2021, 17 min), biologist Tim Shields quits traditional observational biology, instead adopting direct intervention methods to prove that innovation, technology, and imagination may be the last hope for saving the planet. — This program also available via streaming
One and Only
“I’ve been here before. Every feeling, every word. I’ve imagined it all. You never know if you never try…” Tales of artistry, creativity, and empathy cover a lot of ground in these memorable shorts. Owen Klatte’s remarkable Of Wood (US 2022, 7 min) is a stop-motion tribute to the history of wood, his chosen animation medium. Anna J. Takayama’s The Voice Actress (Japan 2022, 15 min) reveals the rigors of anime auditioning for an older actor in a younger person’s landscape. April Moreau’s funny and searing Hysterical(US 2022, 15 min) chronicles a stand-up comic’s journey as she steels herself to perform while dealing with a personal trauma. Desirée Abeyta’s Anne (US 2021, 10 min) examines casting for an important role and how lessons from history can speak to new generations today. A writer must explore the dangers of self-expression under a totalitarian regime in Hamid Mohammadi’s stop-motion The Past (Iran 2021, 7 min). And in Callie Bloem and Christopher J. Ewing’s clever Written By (US 2021, 15 min), fictional characters have some startling real-world epiphanies. A broad variety of storytelling modes brings laughs and keen insights in this collection. — This program also available via streaming
“Filling up my heart with golden stories…. Who adds some spice to the rhythm of life?” Bay Area filmmakers present true-life tales of extraordinary individuals in this program. In Chloë Fitzmaurice’s For the Bees (US 2021, 16 min), Yemeni refugee Kahled pursues beekeeping in Oakland. Perry Gershkow’s The Baker (US 2021, 9 min) introduces Matthew Jones, a renowned San Francisco baker who crafts artisanal breads while wrestling with obstacles wrought by the pandemic. Under looming threat of closure, and with phantoms of the past and future bleeding into the present, the caretakers of San Francisco’s historic queer bars carry on in Drew de Pinto’s Last Call (US 2021, 4 min). In Gabriel Diamond’s Strangers In Boxes (US 2021, 6 min), activists from more than 15 countries—all strangers—meet online during COVID, connecting with each other in surprisingly profound ways. In Subei Kyle’s short RAMINI (US 2022, 12 min), we experience the day-to-day life of a water buffalo farm in Tomales Bay. Sculptor Dana King’s hands and activist Fredrika Newton’s memories come together to build a new monument—a bust of Black Panther Party leader Huey P. Newton—in A.K. Sandhu’s For Love and Legacy (US 2022, 20 min). — This program also available via streaming
Rolling in the Deep
“Throw your soul through every open door. Count your blessings to find what you look for.” These short films by talented British female directors use a variety of genres and styles to tell contemporary stories. Hailing from one of the most vibrant LGBTQ communities in the UK, Sarah Smith’s joyously campy Cardiff (UK 2022, 25 min) follows a single gay man who falls in love with his married friend’s lover. Katya Ganfeld’s edgy, aesthetically arresting Mirror Mirror (UK 2022, 15 min) explores a heartsick woman’s journey into an unknown reality. In Caitlin McLeod’s poignant One Like Him (Jordan/UK 2022, 16 min), a man seeks confrontation with a childhood friend while being forced to relive painful memories of his past. Reflecting on deeply human themes with hilarity, intimacy, and surreal thrills, these daring films captivate. -— This program also available via streaming
“Hear my heart burst again. For this is the end. I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment.” These powerful stories highlight the intersection of identity and mortality in touching ways. A school teacher must face some urgent family news in a dangerous COVID world in Farhad Pakdel’s Everything Will Be All Right (Canada 2022, 16 min). Lives put on the line in the name of space exploration get their due in Simon Cottee’s touching, animated The Pioneers (Canada 2021, 10 min). In Marilyn Cooke’s No Ghost in the Morgue(Canada 2022, 16 min), a medical student finds herself in an unlikely internship. A trip to the beach carries some real emotional weight for a lesbian couple in Luisa Dantas’s Rip Tide (US 2022, 13 min). Miriam Hitchcock’s lovely and impressionistic No Time (US 2022, 3 min) is a meditation on building a better world by urgent example. And a futuristic job interview takes a surprising turn in Casimir Nozkowski’s All Will Become Clear at the Point of Contact (US 2021, 7 min). Join us for this poignant and life-affirming array of stories, wonderfully conveyed. — This program also available via streaming
Strangers by Nightfall
“I’ve never seen the sky this color before. It’s like I’m noticing everything a little bit more.” These short films are vivid, beautiful, compassionate, and unforgettable. A normal medical procedure becomes a nightmare of Kafka-meets-Cronenberg proportions in Grace Gregory’s shocking, timely Earthworm (US 2022, 14 min). In Emilie Mannering’s stunning Brasier (Canada 2022, 19 min), two siblings find that new dynamics in high school have unexpected reverberations. In Brenton Gieser’s gorgeous Gabriel (US 2022, 14 min), a grieving mother seeks some kind of closure with her son’s killer. And in Carlos Ormeño Palma’s elliptical The Distance of Time (Peru 2021, 19 min), the slipstream of memory tells a moving tale of loss and love for a gay couple. The stories are short but the emotional terrain they traverse is epic in this extraordinary collection. — This program also available via streaming
Truths (and Spoofs) from the Youths
This year’s collection of peer-reviewed, youth-produced short films showcases an international cohort of storytellers working in animation, documentary, comedy, horror, and drama. It’s an inspiring display of emerging young talent from as close to home as Mill Valley and San Rafael, and as far afield as Indonesia, China, Germany, and Korea: A Stellar Vacation! (Noah Shin, US 2022, 5 min), A Date with Kino Redfield(Tony Heffernan, US 2022, 10 min), I Don’t Ride My Bike Anymore (Gabriel Perez, US 2021, 8 min), Silver(Haley Stemmons, US 2022, 2 min), The Queen’s Closet (Cameron Grace Ford, Ava Wolf & Joe Tourk, US 2021, 8 min), The Dilemma: Extra-Curricular Institutions in China (Huanshuo Wang, China 2022, 15 min, in Chinese with English subtitles), Stache Society (Olive Corine Read, US 2022, 6 min), Underwater Basket Weaving (Parker Bladow, US 2022, 5 min), Merry Go Round (Ella Fields, US 2022, 14 min), The White Rose (Ian Kim, US 2021, 3 min), Harmony with Upstairs (Sunmin Yang, Republic of Korea 2021, 14 min, in Korean with English subtitles), Midnight Smoker (Jeremy Gautama, Indonesia 2022, 1 min), Schattendachs (Louis Hartmann, Germany 2022, 2 min).— Ages 11+ In English and various languages with English subtitles; This program also available via streaming