The lineup 46th edition of the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF), presented annually by the California Film Institute (CAFILM) has been announced, featuring The Boy and the Heron, The Zone of Interest, The Bikeriders, Priscilla, Rustin, The Holdovers, Rustin and Anatomy of a Fall as well as tributes and awards going to Sofia Coppola, Todd Haynes, George C. Wolfe, and Jeff Nichols. MVFF will feature 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 5 – 15, 2023.
The Festival will screen 148 films representing 41 countries, including 56 premieres, 86 features, and 62 shorts; 45% of all films across the 2023 Festival are directed by women.
Opening Night, Thursday, October 5, MVFF returns to its roots as a heavyweight champion of independent filmmaking with the North American premiere of renowned actor Jack Huston’s (Kill Your Darlings, American Hustle) extraordinary writing/directing debut Day of the Fight featuring an all-star cast including Michael Pitt, Ron Perlman, Joe Pesci, and Nicolette Robinson, with Huston in attendance.
“We are thrilled to be back for our 46th year, a testament to the enduring power of cinema and community. We have something for everyone this year, from our incredibly moving opening night film Day of the Fight, Jack Huston’s directorial debut, and we’ll wrap up with a film that’s generating major Oscar buzz. We put together a program that is sure to spark your interest and make you feel as if you’ve traveled the world. At MVFF, we continue to believe in the magic of the theatrical experience, where empathy flourishes, bridges are built, and voices are amplified,” said MVFF Founder/Director Mark Fishkin. “As we begin a new chapter in this increasingly challenging world, I extend my gratitude to our loyal community for your unrivaled support. MVFF46 is our way of saying thank you to our entire community and to celebrate another year of cinematic excellence, connection, and discovery.”
In-person conversations will continue throughout the festival, featuring writer/director Cord Jefferson, whose comedy American Fiction will be a MVFF Centerpiece Spotlight Presentation on Wednesday, October 11. Director Sofia Coppola brings the highly anticipated Priscilla, based on Priscilla Presley’s best-selling memoir. Jefferson will be honored with the MVFF Award for Breakthrough Directing, while Coppola will receive the MVFF Award for Filmmaking. The World Premiere screening of Australian director Phillip Noyce’s thrilling new film Fast Charlie, starring Pierce Brosnan and featuring the late James Caan in his final film role. Along with a screening of Jonathan Glazer’s 2023 Cannes Grand Prix Winner, The Zone of Interest, there will be an onstage conversation featuring Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller, who is also leads 2023 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall.
The noteworthy conversations will continue with MVFF Directors Night on Friday, October 13 with writer/director Erica Tremblay, with her moving narrative debut Fancy Dance, set on the Seneca-Cayuga reservation in Oklahoma and starring Lily Gladstone (The Unknown Country, MVFF45); and acclaimed Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaking duo Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (The Rescue, MVFF 2021) will be returning to MVFF with their narrative directorial debut, the inspirational Nyad starring Jodie Foster and Annette Bening.
Both a celebration and call to action, Mind the Gap is MVFF’s platform for inclusion and equity, amplifying and championing filmmaking by women, non-binary people, and other marginalized groups through a vibrant collection of films, Q&As, Panels, and Conversations. The 2023 Mind the Gap program will feature the return of the Mind the Gap Summit where members of the public, the local film community, and all festival attendees can gather together to experience a curated day of Mind the Gap-centered programming celebrating the incredible work of female filmmakers from around the world. The Mind the Gap Summit Keynote Speech will be given by Dr. Jimmeka Anderson, founder of Black Girls Film Camp, and the very first recipient of the Mind the Gap Award for Vision in Film Education.
MVFF’s ¡Viva el cine! Initiative is a showcase of Latin American, Latinx, and Spanish-language stories, connecting audiences with a diversity of cultures, identities, and histories explored through the magic of cinema. This year will include films from Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, Uruguay, and the US. Highlights include the World Premiere of Katina Medina Mora’s Heartbeat; the West Coast Premiere of Felipe Gálvez Haberle’s The Settlers, Chile’s official submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film; the animated documentary They Shot the Piano Player (narrated by Jeff Goldblum) by Fernando Treuba and Javier Mariscal; Musica!, the latest documentary from popular Bay Area filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman; Christopher Zalla’s Radical, winner of the 2023 Sundance Festival Favorite Award; ¡Vive el cine infantil! a festive collection of kid-centric animated and narrative short films; and the North American Premiere of Sergio Machado’s sensual River of Desire.
Ticket On-Sale Dates
Advance Ticket Packages and Passes on sale Monday, August 7, 2023
General Public Single Tickets on sale Tuesday, September 12, 2023
CFI members can purchase single tickets in advance of the public beginning Friday, September 8, 2023
MVFF46 Bay Area Screening Venues
San Rafael: Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center – October 5 – 15, 2023
Mill Valley: CinéArts Sequoia – October 5 – 15, 2023
Larkspur: Lark Theater –October 13 -15, 2023
Berkeley: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive – October 6, 7, & 8 and October 13 & 14, 2023
San Francisco: The Roxie Theater – October 9 & 10, 2023
MVFF46 FEATURE LENGTH FILMS (listed in alphabetical order)
The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane (US, documentary feature, dir. Maureen Gosling) Celebrates the life of singer Barbara Dane, a woman whose stellar voice supported justice movements in the Bay Area and beyond for decades, garnering an impressive FBI file along the way. Deeply respected by fellow luminaries in folk, blues, and jazz, Dane built a far reaching legacy with music, activism, and love. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere
Adrift (US, documentary feature, dir. Rory Kennedy) Veteran filmmaker Rory Kennedy launches a welcome intervention into the ongoing global refugee crisis. Adopting personal and historical perspectives as well as testimonies from experts and relevant stakeholders, Adrift is a passionate and evidence-driven appeal for compassion and respect for the rights of refugees. In English, Rohingya, Russian, & Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere
All Happy Families (US, narrative feature, dir. Haroula Rose) Life seems to be looking up for struggling actor Graham Landry (Josh Radnor) — he reconnects with his college crush and enlists his parents to help fix up his Chicago home. But when his brother (Rob Huebel), a famous TV star, blows in and bombshell news drops on the family, his world is turned upside down — and the Landry’s suddenly must confront themselves and each other. – West Coast Premiere
American Fiction (US, narrative fiction, dir. Cord Jefferson) In Cord Jefferson’s adaptation of Percival Everett’s Erasure, English professor and author Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffery Wright) writes a satirical novel under a pseudonym, with the intent to expose the hypocrisies of the publishing industry.
Anatomy of a Fall (France, narrative feature, dir. Justine Triet) For the past year, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), her husband Samuel (Swann Arlaud), and their eleven-year-old son Daniel have lived a secluded life in a remote town in the French Alps. When Samuel is found dead in the snow below their chalet, the police question whether he was murdered or committed suicide. Samuel’s suspicious death is presumed murder, and Sandra becomes the main suspect. What follows is not just an investigation into the circumstances of Samuel’s death but an unsettling psychological journey into the depths of Sandra and Samuel’s conflicted relationship. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. In French, English, & German with English subtitles – California Premiere
Another Body (UK/US, documentary feature, dirs. Sophie Compton, Reubyn Hamlyn) Directors Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn follow a college student’s search for answers and justice after she discovers deepfake pornography of herself circulating online.Through a combination of candid video diaries, synthetic media, and 2D and 3D animation, the film takes viewers on a journey through online and offline worlds, highlighting the devastating impact of deepfakes on the individual. – West Coast Premiere
Avenue of the Giants (US, narrative feature, dir. Finn Taylor) Bay Area writer-director Finn Taylor Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait, MVFF41) movingly dramatizes the true story of Auschwitz survivor Herbert Heller (Stephen Lang), who kept his past a secret for more than 50 years — until the unexpected friendship of a troubled teenager (Elsie Fisher) made hope and healing possible. – West Coast Premiere
The Bikeriders (US, narrative feature, dir. Jeff Nichols) From acclaimed writer-director Jeff Nichols (Loving, Midnight Special, Mud), 20th Century Studios and New Regency, The Bikeriders is a furious drama following the rise of a fictional 1960s Midwestern motorcycle club through the lives of its members, starring Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The Last Duel), Austin Butler (Elvis) and Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant).
The Boy and the Heron (Japan, animated feature, dir. Hayao Miyazaki) The highly anticipated new film from the legendary Academy Award-winning Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Japan’s celebrated animation house, Studio Ghibli. Released in Japan as Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka (translated as How Do You Live), the film is an original story written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by the Oscar®-winning Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, and features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi. – West Coast Premiere
Carol Doda Topless at the Condor (US, documentary feature, dirs. Jonathan Parker, Marlo McKenzie) San Francisco’s first topless dancer, the legendary Carol Doda, reshaped the city’s nightlife and transformed America’s relationship to female nudity in the 1960s. Using the male gaze to her advantage, Doda found power, letting it rip to great effect. Based partly on the book Three Nights at the Condor by Benita Mattioli, this fascinating documentary explores the legacy of a game-changing icon. – West Coast Premiere
La Chimera (Italy/France/Switzerland, narrative feature, dir. Alice Rohrwacher) Everyone has their own Chimera, something they try to achieve but never manage to find. For the band of tombaroli, thieves of ancient grave goods and archaeological wonders, the Chimera means redemption from work and the dream of easy wealth. For Arthur (Josh O’Connor), the Chimera looks like the woman he lost, Beniamina. To find her, Arthur challenges the invisible, searches everywhere, goes inside the earth – in search of the door to the afterlife of which myths speak. In an adventurous journey between the living and the dead, between forests and cities, between celebrations and solitudes, the intertwined destinies of these characters unfold, all in search of the Chimera. In English & Italian with English subtitles – California Premiere
Common Ground (US, documentary feature, dirs. Josh Tickell & Rebecca Tickell) Featuring appearances by Laura Dern (Mind the Gap Actor of the Year Award, MVFF 2019), Donald Glover, and Rosario Dawson, this dramatic documentary focuses on the power of regenerative agriculture to transform the Earth, and how innovative farmers are developing strategies to revive our faltering ecosystem. – West Coast Premiere
The Crime is Mine (Mon Crime) (France, narrative feature, dir. François Ozon) Farcical intrigue ensues in 1930s Paris when two young women become embroiled in a murder case, turning its scandalous headlines to their mutual advantage. Derived from the play Mon Crime (1934) by Georges Berr and Louis Verneuil, Director François Ozon’s (By the Grace of God, MVFF 2019) latest is an ode to vintage screwball comedy, with attractions that include an extravagantly outrageous Isabelle Huppert. In French with English Subtitles – US Premiere
Cyborgian Rhapsody Series (US, narrative feature, dir. Lynn Hershman-Leeson) In 1960, two scientists from N.A.S.A., Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, coined the term “cyborg” to describe the technological apparatus a human would require to record information at supersonic speeds. Both the revolutionary potential of this technology and how it can be abused are examined in this screening of the complete Cyborgian Rhapsody series, consisting of four captivating short films: Seduction of a Cyborg (1994), Shadow Stalker (2018), Logic Paralyzes the Heart (2022), and the world premiere of the final installment, CYBORGIAN RHAPSODY – IMMORTALITY (2023), written and performed by a Cyborg – GPAT-3 Chatbot. – World Premiere
Day of the Fight (US, narrative feature, dir. Jack Huston) On the day of his first fight since leaving prison, Mikey, a once celebrated boxer, takes a redemptive journey through his past and present. Over the course of the day, Mikey visits influential figures from his life, encouraging him to overcome his checkered past. After a fight for the ages at Madison Square Garden, a twist of events reveals that this day was never really about boxing for Mikey. This is an underdog story built on introspection, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness which asks the question: how far are we willing to go for the ones we love? – North American Premiere
Demon Mineral (US, documentary feature, dir. Hadley Austin) A penetrating look at the effects of radiation poisoning on Navajo land after decades of uranium mining, Hadley Austin’s fascinating documentary uses well-sourced data, coupled with archival and on-the-ground footage, to paint a devastating portrait of bureaucratic inaction and its long term impact on human life. In Spoken Navajo with English Subtitles & Spoken English with Navajo Subtitles – US Premiere
The Disappearance of Shere Hite (US, documentary feature, dir. Nicole Newnham) Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear?
A Double Life (US, documentary feature, dir. Catherine Masud) Catherine Masud’s documentary unravels the mystery of Stephen Bingham, a civil rights activist lawyer and political fugitive, and his alleged involvement in a 1971 prison rebellion that left six people dead. – World Premiere
Evil Does Not Exist (Japan, narrative feature, dir. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi) Takumi and his daughter Hana live in Mizubiki Village, close to Tokyo. Like generations before them, they live a modest life according to the cycles and order of nature. One day, the village inhabitants become aware of a plan to build a glamping site near Takumi’s house, offering city residents a comfortable “escape” to nature. When two representatives of the glamping company arrive in the village to hold a meeting, it becomes clear that the project will have a negative impact on the local water supply, causing unrest. The company’s plans endanger both the ecological balance of the area, and the local people’s way of life, and its aftermath affects Takumi’s life deeply. – West Coast Premiere
Fallen Leaves (Finland/Germany, narrative feature, dir. Aki Kaurismäki) Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki (The Other Side of Hope, MVFF 2017) tells the story of two lonely people (Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen) who meet each other by chance in the Helsinki night and try to find the first, only, and ultimate love of their lives. Their path towards this honorable goal is clouded by the man’s alcoholism, lost phone numbers, not knowing each other’s names or addresses, and life’s general tendency to place obstacles in the way of those seeking their happiness. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. In Finnish with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Fancy Dance (US, narrative feature, dir. Erica Tremblay) Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler (Lily Gladstone, The Unknown Country, MVFF 2022) kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact. Ages 15+ – Bay Area Premiere
Farming While Black (US, documentary feature, dir. Mark Decena) In 1910, Black farmers owned 14 percent of all American farmland. Over the intervening decades, that number fell to two percent, the result of racism, discrimination, and dispossession. Director Mark Decena adapts Leah Penniman’s 2018 book into a visually eloquent documentary that chronicles Penniman and two other Black farmers’ efforts to reclaim their agricultural heritage. – World Premiere
Fast Charlie (US, narrative feature, dir. Phillip Noyce) Charlie Swift (Pierce Brosnan), aka “Fast Charlie,” is a fixer with a problem: the target he’s whacked is missing his head. And he must be able to prove it’s the intended target to the man who paid for the hit – New Orleans’ biggest and most ruthless mobster, Beggar Mercado. Charlie enlists Marcie Kramer, the victim’s ex-wife and a woman with the backbone and skillset Charlie needs. Dragging Marcie back into a past she was determined to escape sends the two of them on a wild and unpredictable odyssey that’s at once hilarious and action-packed, and ultimately heartfelt. Along the way, Charlie and Marcie fight to protect the legacy of Charlie’s best friend and mentor, Stan Mullins, while bringing down Beggar and his entire operation. – World Premiere
Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3 (US, documentary feature, dir. Jay Schlossberg) Broadcasting from “high atop the Triangle Towers” near Washington, DC the legendary & beloved WHFS was more than just a local radio station – it was a keystone, and center point, for the music and culture of the era. Hear from local, national and international musicians, the ‘HFS deejays, record label veterans, journalists, historians, fans and more as they reflect on a time when the music united a tribe who spoke out via the radio waves about war, equality and a time of great social, cultural and political upheaval. – California Premiere
Fingernails (US, narrative feature, dir. Christos Nikou) Anna (Jessie Buckley) and Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) have found true love. It’s been proven by a controversial new technology. There’s just one problem: Anna still isn’t sure. Then she takes a position at a love testing institute, and meets Amir (Riz Ahmed). – West Coast Premiere
The Fortunate Ones (Portugal/Switzerland, narrative feature, dir. Jeanne Waltz) Following the death of her grandmother, Milene – a strong young woman full of life despite a slight mental handicap – divides her life between her family of notables and a Cape Verdean family that keeps her going. – World Premiere
Frybread Face and Me (US, narrative feature, dir. Billy Luther) Produced by Taika Waititi (JoJo Rabbit, MVFF 2019), director Billy Luther’s tender and wistfully funny debut spins the coming-of-age tale of two Navajo cousins spending the summer of 1990 together at their grandmother’s reservation home. Ages 10+ In English and Navajo with English subtitles
Goodbye Julia (Sudan/Sweden/Saudi Arabia/Germany/Egypt/France, narrative feature, dir. Mohamed Kordofani) Winner of the Prix de Liberté in the 2023 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard, this powerful drama set against the 2011 split of Sudan follows a married former singer from the north as she seeks redemption for causing the death of a southern man by hiring his oblivious wife as her maid. In Arabic with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Heartbeat (Mexico, narrative feature, dir. Katina Medina Mora) Leonor, 45 years old, has tried everything to get pregnant but her body does not seem to respond. Emilia, a 16 year old teenager, with an undeniable talent for ballet dancing, is about to lose her career when she finds out she is pregnant. Leonor and Emilia will make a deal and share the pregnancy process. In Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere
The Holdovers (US, narrative feature, dir. Alexander Payne) From acclaimed director Alexander Payne (Nebraska, MVFF 2013), The Holdovers follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them – a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) – and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
Housekeeping for Beginners (North Macedonia / Sweden / Kosovo / Poland / Serbia / Croatia, narrative feature, dir. Golan Stolevsky) From acclaimed filmmaker Goran Stolevski comes a story exploring the universal truths of family, both the ones we’re born into and the ones we find for ourselves. Dita never wanted to be a mother, but circumstances force her to raise her girlfriend’s two daughters, tiny troublemaker Mia and rebellious teen Vanesa. A battle of wills ensues as the three continue to butt heads and become an unlikely family that must fight to stay together. In Macedonian with English subtitles – US Premiere
The Hypnosis (Sweden/Norway, narrative feature, dir. Ernst De Geer) Swedish filmmaker Ernst De Geer’s provocative debut follows an aspiring entrepreneur (Herbert Nordrum) and his girlfriend (Asta Kamma August) as they get the opportunity to pitch their female health app at a prestigious competition. Before going there, Vera tries hypnotherapy to quit smoking. From this point, her attitude changes and André starts to behave unexpectedly. In Swedish, Norwegian, & English with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
I Am Hope (US, documentary feature, dir. ShakaJamal) An insightful documentary about a resilient community coming together to create the first yoga and mindfulness class in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Middle Schools. Working collaboratively with staff and administration, yoga instructor ShakaJamal develops strong relationships with youth who are receiving their first in-school instruction of yoga and mindfulness. Through a challenging school year, students are engaged in a range of mindfulness activities that transform them from mindful learners to mindful leaders. Ages 9+ – Bay Area Premiere
If Only I Could Hibernate (Mongolia, narrative feature, dir. Zoljargal Purevdash) The first Mongolian film shown in the Cannes’ official selection, Director Zoljargal Purevdash’s debut is the moving story of a poor but prideful teenage boy Ulzii determines to win a Physics competition for a scholarship, but his illiterate mother finds a job in the countryside and leaves him with his siblings in the middle of the winter. In Mongolian with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Inshallah A Boy (Jordan/France/Saudi Arabia/Qatar, narrative feature, dir. Amjad Al Rasheed) Jordan, nowadays. After the sudden death of her husband, Nawal, 30s, has to fight for her part of inheritance in order to save her daughter and home in a society where having a son would be a game changer. In Arabic with English subtitles – US Premiere
Invisible Nation (US, documentary feature, dir. Vanessa Hope) With unprecedented access to Taiwan’s sitting head of state, director Vanessa Hope investigates the election and tenure of Tsai Ing-wen, the first female president of Taiwan. Thorough, incisive and bristling with tension, Invisible Nationis a living account of Tsai’s tightrope walk as she balances the hopes and dreams of her nation between the colossal geopolitical forces of the U.S. and China. Hope’s restrained observational style captures Tsai at work in her country’s vibrant democracy at home, while seeking full international recognition of Taiwan’s right to exist. At a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the ever-present threat of authoritarian aggression, Invisible Nation brings punctual focus to the struggle of Taiwan as it fights for autonomy and freedom from fear. In English & Chinese with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Kidnapped (Italy/France/Germany, narrative feature, dir. Marco Bellocchio) In 1858, in the Jewish quarter of Bologna, the Pope’s soldiers burst into the home of the Mortara family. By order of the cardinal, they have come to take Edgardo, their seven-year-old son. The child had been secretly baptized by his nurse as a baby and the papal law is unquestionable: he must receive a Catholic education. Edgardo’s parents, distraught, will do anything to get their son back. Supported by public opinion and the international Jewish community, the Mortaras’ struggle quickly takes a political dimension. But the Church and the Pope will not agree to return the child, to consolidate an increasingly wavering power… In Italian & Hebrew with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
May December (US, narrative feature, dir. Todd Haynes) Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple (Julianne Moore and Charles Melton) buckles under the pressure when an actress (Natalie Portman) arrives to do research for a film about their past. – West Coast Premiere
Milli Vanilli (US, documentary feature, dir. Luke Korem) In the ’80s, a producer turned singer-dancer-models Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus into the pop sensation Milli Vanilli, who swiftly devolved from superstars to punch lines. This deep-dive documentary corrects the record, revisiting how the music industry built the duo up and tore them down once they became pop-chart pariahs. – West Coast Premiere
Monster (Japan, narrative feature, dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda) Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, MVFF 2019) returns in this Rashomon-like tale of a troubling school incident that proves much less clear-cut than initially believed. When her young son Minato starts to behave strangely, his mother feels that there is something wrong. Discovering that a teacher is responsible, she storms into the school demanding to know what’s going on. But as the story unfolds through the eyes of mother, teacher and child, the truth gradually emerges. In Japanese with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Mountains (US, narrative feature, dir. Morgan Sorelle) Monica Sorelle’s breathtaking first feature, a Haitian demolition worker is faced with the realities of redevelopment as he is tasked with dismantling his rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. In English, Haitian Creole, & Spanish with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Mùsica! (US, documentary feature, dirs. Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman) Over the course of five years, Mùsica! follows four young Cubans who view music as a way of life. Through music, they hope to find success and fulfillment, some choosing to remain in Cuba, and some seeking to venture out into the world beyond. Ages 11+
Mustache (US, narrative feature, dir. Imran J. Khan) Writer-director Imran J. Khan’s confident debut offers a humorous look at the Pakistani-American immigrant experience in 1990s Silicon Valley, through the eyes of 13-year-old Ilyas (newcomer Atharva Verma) as he navigates the social hierarchy of his new school with a mustache his parents won’t let him shave. Ages 11+ – West Coast Premiere
National Anthem (US, narrative feature, dir. Luke Gilford) Dylan (Charlie Plummer), a 21-year-old construction worker in New Mexico, joins a community of queer rodeo performers in search of their own version of the American dream. While working on a communal ranch in the breathtaking and poetic expanse of the American Southwest, they contend with the undeniable powers of nature, family, and love. – West Coast Premiere
The Nature of Love (Canada/France, narrative feature, dir. Monia Chokri) Sophia (Magalie Lépine Blondeau) a 40-year-old philosophy professor, is in a stable if somewhat socially-conforming relationship with Xavier (Francis-William Rhéaume). From gallery openings to endless dinner parties, ten years have already flown by. Sylvain (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) is a craftsman, renovating Sophia and Xavier’s new country house. When Sophia and Sylvain meet, Sophia’s world is turned upside down. Opposites attract, but can they last? In Quebec French with English subtitles – US Premiere
Nyad (US, narrative feature, dirs. Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) From acclaimed documentarians Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (The Rescue, MVFF 2021), Nyad tells the remarkable true story of athlete Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) who, at the age of 60 and with the help of her best friend and coach (Jodie Foster), commits to achieving her life-long dream: a 110-mile open ocean swim from Cuba to Florida.
One With The Whale (United Kingdom/US, documentary feature, dirs. Pete Chelkowski, Jim Wickens) Hunting whales is a matter of life or death for the residents of St. Lawrence, a tiny island in the Bering Sea. So, when Chris Apassingok becomes the youngest person to ever harpoon a whale for his Alaskan village, his mother proudly shares the news on Facebook. To her surprise, thousands of keyboard activists brutally attack Chris without fully understanding the scope of his accomplishment. One with the Whale is a heartwarming yet thrilling story of one family’s struggle to rebuild their shattered identities and regain a new foothold in both the ancient and modern world. Ages 13+ – West Coast Premiere
Öte (US, narrative feature, dirs. Esra Saydam, Malik Isasis) Öte, which means beyond in Turkish, follows Lela, a Black woman backpacking across Turkey on her way to Armenia to meet up with a friend. On the way, she connects with locals more deeply than she expected and finds herself drawn to stay. In English & Turkish with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Patrol (Nicaragua, documentary feature, dirs. Camilo de Castro, Brad Allgood) Illegal cattle ranching poses an existential threat to Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, one of the most biodiverse regions in Central America. This stirring documentary follows the Rama-Kriol peoples — the rainforest’s rightful stewards — as they gather evidence against the ranchers in hopes of saving this precious ecosystem before it’s too late.In English & Spanish with English subtitles – California Premiere
Perfect Days (Japan Germany, narrative feature, dir. Wim Wenders) Hirayama is content with his simple life cleaning toilets in Tokyo. Outside of his structured routine he cherishes music on cassette tapes, books, and taking photos of trees. Unexpected encounters reveal more of his story in a deeply moving and poetic reflection on finding beauty in the world around us. In Japanese & English with English subtitles – California Premiere
Periodical (US, documentary feature, dir. Lina Lyte Plioplyte) An eye-opening documentary that examines science, politics, and mystery of the menstrual cycle, through the experiences of doctors, athletes, movie stars, journalists, activists, and everyday people. Ages 14+ – Bay Area Premiere
The Persian Version (US, narrative feature, dir. Maryam Keshavarz) Coming from two countries at odds with each other, Iranian-American Leila (Layla Mohammadi) strives to find balance and embrace her opposing cultures, while boldly challenging the labels society is so quick to project upon her. When her family reunites in New York City for her father’s heart transplant, Leila navigates her relationships from arm’s length in an effort to keep her “real” life separate from her family life. However, when her secret is unceremoniously revealed, so are the distinct parallels between her life and that of her mother, Shireen (Niousha Noor). Winner of the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. – West Coast Premiere
The Pigeon Tunnel (US, documentary feature, dir. Errol Morris) Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris pulls back the curtain on the storied life and career of former British spy David Cornwell — better known as John le Carré, author of such classic espionage novels as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Constant Gardener. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Cold War leading into present day, the film spans six decades as le Carré delivers his final and most candid interview, punctuated with rare archival footage and dramatized vignettes. “The Pigeon Tunnel” is a deeply human and engaging exploration of le Carré’s extraordinary journey and the paper-thin membrane between fact and fiction. – West Coast Premiere
Priscilla (US, narrative feature, dir. Sofia Coppola) When teenage Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley at a party, the man who is already a meteoric rock-and-roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, a vulnerable best friend. Through Priscilla’s eyes, Sofia Coppola tells the unseen side of a great American myth in Elvis and Priscilla’s long courtship and turbulent marriage, from a German army base to his dream-world estate at Graceland, in this deeply felt and ravishingly detailed portrait of love, fantasy, and fame. – Bay Area Premiere
The Promised Land (Denmark/Sweden/Norway, narrative feature, dir. Nikolaj Arcel) In 1755, the impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen) sets out to conquer the harsh, uninhabitable Danish heath with a seemingly impossible goal; to build a colony in the name of the King. In exchange, he’ll receive a desperately desired Royal name for himself. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel (Simon Bennebjerg), arrogantly believes this land belongs to him. When de Schinkel learns that the maid Ann Barbara (Amanda Collin) and her servant husband have escaped for refuge with Kahlen, the privileged and spiteful ruler swears revenge, doing everything in his power to drive the captain away. Kahlen will not be intimidated and takes up the unequal battle – not only risking his life, but also the family of outsiders that has formed around him. In Danish with English subtitles – Bay Area Premiere
Radical (US, narrative feature, dir. Christopher Zalla) In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher (Eugenio Derbez) tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story.
The Right to Read (US, documentary feature, dir. Jenny Mackenzie) Executive produced by LeVar Burton, Emmy winner Jenny Mackenzie’s inspiring documentary introduces us to two families, a Bay Area activist, and an Oakland teacher, all taking action to reverse the disturbing trend of plummeting literacy — and give our children a brighter future full of appreciation for the written word. Ages 10+ – Bay Area Premiere
River of Desire (Brazil, narrative feature, dir. Sergio Machado) Captain Dalberto quits his job and buys a boat after falling in love with Anaíra. The newlywed couple moves in with Dalberto’s two close brothers. At first, the situation is harmonious, but an inevitable family tragedy unfolds when the three men find themselves completely in love with the same woman. Based on a Milton Hatoum short story. In Portuguese with English subtitles – North American Premiere
Robot Dreams (Spain/France, animated feature, dir. Pablo Berger) Based on the popular graphic novel by North American writer Sara Varon, Robot Dreams is the first animation film by the award-winning director Pablo Berger (Blancanieves). A story about friendship, its importance, and its fragility. DOG lives in Manhattan and he’s tired of being alone. One day he decides to build himself a robot, a companion. Their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable, to the rhythm of 80’s NYC. One summer night, DOG, with great sadness, is forced to abandon ROBOT at the beach. Will they ever meet again? Ages 10+ – California Premiere
Rosa and the Stone Troll (Denmark, animated feature, dir. Karla Holmbäck) Rosa is a little insecure and dutiful flower fairy who always lived alone in her rosebush. More than anything she dreams of having a friend, but she is scared of everything and never dared to go out to the Summerland to meet one. One day the cool and adventurous butterfly Silk crosses paths with Rosa and they immediately become friends despite their differences. Silk wants to go on adventures in the Summerland and Rosa just wants to stay in her safe bush. But when Silk is kidnapped by an evil Stone Troll, Rosa has to let go of her fears and set out on a dangerous journey to save her best friend. Ages 5+ – US Premiere
Rustin (US, narrative feature, dir. George C. Wolfe) Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo) was the architect of 1963’s March on Washington. He challenged authority and never apologized for who he was, but was forgotten despite making history. Rustin spotlights the man who, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., dared to imagine a different world and inspired a movement. – West Coast Premiere
Saltburn (US, narrative feature, dir. Emerald Fennell) Academy Award winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) brings us a beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire. Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.
The Settlers (Chile/Argentina/Denmark/France/UK/Taiwan, narrative feature, dir. Felipe Gálvez Haberle) Chile, 1901. A wealthy landowner hires three horsemen to mark out the perimeter of his property and open a route to the Atlantic Ocean across Patagonia. The expedition, composed of a young Chilean mestizo, an American mercenary and a reckless British lieutenant, soon turns into a “civilizing” raid. In Spanish with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds (Belgium/France, animated feature, dir. Benoît Chieux) Agnès, the neighbor of Juliette (4 years old) and Carmen (8 years old), writes children’s books that take place in a fantastic world, The Kingdom of the Winds. The two sisters discover a passage between their world and this extraordinary universe. Once there, the two girls take the appearance of cats, and discover the existence of Sirocco, this terrifying character able to control the wind. Ages 8+ In French with English subtitles – North American Premiere
Skin of Glass (US, documentary feature, dir. Denise Zmekhol) A journey to reckon with Brazil’s harsh inequality begins when Berkley-based filmmaker Denise Zmekhol discovers her father’s architectural masterpiece is occupied by hundreds of homeless people. In English, French, & Portuguese with English subtitles – US Premiere
Slide (US, animated feature, dir. Bill Plympton) A musical comedy Western, set in a corrupt logging town where Slide, a mysterious guitar player, appears to battle the evil mayor and his equally selfish twin brother, with the aid of a giant Hellbug. – West Coast Premiere
Society of the Snow (La Sociedad de la Nieve) (Uruguay/Spain/Chile, narrative feature, dir. J. A. Bayona) In 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which had been chartered to fly a rugby team to Chile, crashed in the heart of the Andes. Only 29 of its 45 passengers survived the accident. Trapped in one of the most hostile and inaccessible environments on the planet, they have to resort to extreme measures to stay alive. In Spanish with English subtitles
Summer Solstice (US, narrative feature, dir. Noah Schamus) Leo, a trans man, and his cisgender and straight friend Eleanor go on a weekend trip, during which they uncover some old secrets, new challenges, and find the answer to the age-old question: can good friends and bad sex mix? – West Coast Premiere
The Taste of Things (France, narrative feature, dir. Tràn Anh Hùng) Based on Marcel Rouffe’s 1924 novel The Passionate Epicure, and winning the Best Director prize for French-Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, the film follows the life of Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magime), a preeminent chef who has been living with his personal cook and lover Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) for over two decades. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance, giving rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world’s most illustrious chefs. In French with English subtitles
The Teachers’ Lounge (Germany, narrative feature, dir. İlker Çatak) Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch), a dedicated sports and math teacher, starts her first job at a high school. She stands out among the new staff because of her idealism. When a series of thefts occur at the school and one of her students is suspected, she decides to get to the bottom of the matter on her own. Carla tries to mediate between outraged parents, opinionated colleagues and aggressive students, but is relentlessly confronted with the structures of the school system. The more desperately she tries to do everything right, the more the young teacher threatens to break. In German with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Terrestrial Verses (Iran, narrative feature, dirs. Ali Asgari, Alireza Khatami) Follows everyday people from all walks of life as they navigate the cultural, religious, and institutional constraints imposed on them by various social authorities, from school teachers to bureaucrats. These stirring vignettes, humorous and affecting, capture the spirit and determination of people amidst adversity, offering a nuanced portrait of a complex society. In Persian with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
They Shot the Piano Player (Spain/France/Netherlands, documentary feature, dirs. Fernando Treuba, Javier Mariscal) Jeff Goldblum voices a New York music journalist investigating the 1976 disappearance of Brazilian bossa nova piano virtuoso Francisco Tenório Júnior in this animated documentary from Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal. – West Coast Premiere
Totem (Mexico/Denmark/France, narrative feature, dir. Lila Avilés) Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Totem follows a sprawling middle-class family through the eyes of seven-year-old Sol. As her relatives prepare a final birthday celebration for her dying father, Sol navigates their chaotic world, wondering how to stop the inevitable. – West Coast Premiere
Water for Life (US, documentary feature, dir. Will Parrinello) Bay Area documentarian Will Parrinello (The New Environmentalists – From Accra to Eleuthera Island, MVFF 2022) captures the efforts of three environmental defenders in Chile, El Salvador, and Honduras, all fighting for clean water. Facing down powerful global corporations and their government backers, the trio persists, despite the danger, the costs nearly always exacted in blood. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere
The Zone of Interest (US, narrative feature, dir. Jonathan Glazer) Jonathan Glazer adapts Martin Amis’ novel, chronicling the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller), as they strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp. – Bay Area Premiere
MVFF46 SHORT FILM PROGRAMS
Shorts: The Circle Game
“And the seasons, they go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on the carousel of time.” Themes of memory, legacy, and family unify this shorts collection. Sally Eckhoff’s animated The Innocent Bystander is an affectionate tribute to the late San Francisco musician Dan Hicks (US 2023, 6 min). Liz Sargent’s touching Take Me Home forces two sisters to confront the reality of a major change in their lives (US 2022, 15 min). A father faces some difficult truths when he revisits the past with his daughter in Josh Hundermark’s deeply compassionate Farther (South Africa 2022, 15 min). An artist finds herself in a disorienting painting session in Cara Yeates’ Gone Before Your Eyes (US/Canada 2023, 12 min). A heavenly body finds itself on an Earth-bound trajectory in Mitra Shahidi’s sweet, animated fable Starling (US 2023, 9 min). And two strangers find themselves in a surreal chat in Matthew Segal’s funny A Conversation in Passing (Canada 2023, 12 min).
Shorts: Emma Lee
“Women’s ways — you never know how they gonna do it. Women’s ways– there’s really nothing to it.” Women-centered stories are written and/or directed by woman artists in this fun assembly of shorts. A girl has puberty rear its head unexpectedly in her relationships with male schoolmates in Zoé Pelchat’s savvy coming-of-age drama Gaby’s Hills (Canada 2023, 21 min). An immersion into the exquisite tactility of housekeeping finds expression and rebellion in Amanda Rowan’s irresistibly lush Place Setting (US 2022, 7 min). Sexual reawakening has traction for a woman who finds herself in a surprise hookup in Tali Barde’s delightfully surreal The Lampboy, or the Universe Between Us (Germany 2022, 14 min). Maternal longings have gone viral within a woman’s social circle as Honora Talbott’s comedy shows how she tries to navigate around the B Word (US 2023, 15 min). And a reunion with a romantic partner spurs a moment of reflection for a woman in Lilian Bowden’s poetic Once Was (US 2023, 11 min).
In this shorts program, we present a collection of true-life tales about extraordinary individuals from around the world. In Toshikazu Hosoki’s Circle of Donuts (US 2023, 10 min), we meet a Japanese immigrant who traveled across the world at a young age and paved a unique path to success. Sally Patrica Pearce shares a moment of mourning — for a friend, and for the Earth — in Pripyat Horse (UK 2023, 2 min). Imagine putting on a blindfold on a busy Berkeley street corner and inviting strangers to dance with you. That’s what Gabriel Diamond did in Dance With Me (US 2020, 5 min). When photographer and writer Cig Harvey discovers her best friend has leukemia, she sets out to fill her world with color and light in River Autumn Finlay’s Eat Flowers (US 2023, 15 min). In For the Skeptical (US 2023, 3 min), Dawn Westlake asks us to stop autocracy in its track, with facts. Kirk Horton’s Light Beams For Helena (US 2023, 10 min) explores a woman’s journey with depression, and what diving into the darkness of deep water has taught her about life and light. Gary Weimberg offers a wordless contemplation of longevity in How To Live 100 Years (or more) ( US 2023, 4 min). And Joshua Harding, Adam Hobbs, and Matt Klug introduce us to an unforgettable eccentric artist from rural Alabama in Chasin’ Butterflies(US 2022, 20 min).
Shorts: It’s My Way
This documentary shorts program with strong Bay Area ties follows exceptional individuals bravely delving into their roots. In Jalena Keane-Lee’s Tracing History (US 2022, 13 min), a Chinese-American filmmaker and her mother contemplate loss and legacy while visiting sites where their Chinese ancestors labored. San Francisco printmaker and social activist Juan R. Fuentes reflects on generations of struggle and resilience in the Chicano art community in Eugenia Renteria’s Strawberry Picker (US 2023, 20 min). Nicolas Collins and Alex Zajicek’s Swimming the Rock (US 2023, 7 min) captures a man overcoming his grief by swimming to shore from Alcatraz. In Andrew Nadkarni’s Between Earth & Sky (US 2023, 25 min), renowned ecologist Nalini Nadkarni must turn her research onto herself in order to understand the effects of disturbance and recovery throughout her life. Markelle Taylor runs the Dipsea, America’s oldest trail race, in Alex Massey’s From the Shadow of a Mountain (US 2022, 6 min). From Brazil to California and four years after starting testosterone, Jaime Jobim searches for his new voice in Connor Lee O’Keefe’s No More Longing (US 2023, 16 min).
Shorts: Monsters, Movies & the Moon
Take a wild ride from Oakland to Zimbabwe in this fun and fanciful collection of stories filled with crazy monsters, classic movies, and magical trips to the moon. In Weirdos (Paul Hollingsworth, US 2023, 6 min), middle-school frenemies join together to stop a monster invasion, while a trio of mischievous siblings in Operation Frankenstein (José María Fernández de Vega, Spain 2022, 11 min) scheme to build their own monster, and an Oakland teen attempts to find his mother after she’s abducted by a monster in The Lake Merritt Monster (Benjamin Mulholland, US 2022, 16 min). In A Life in Technicolor (Alex Ramirez, US 2022, 19 min), a young movie lover takes us on a tour through film history when her world suddenly turns black-and-white. It’s the moon that connects 12-year-old Gugu in Australia with her beloved grandmother in Zimbabwe in Gugu naGogo (Taku Mbudzi, Australia 2022, 20 min), and that illuminates the dreams of young Jay Jay and his mother Edie on a warm summer night in New Moon (Jeff Le Bars & Jérémie Balais, US 2022, 11 min). Ages 9+
Shorts: ¡Vive el cine infantil!
As part of MVFF’s ¡Viva el cine! programming, we invite families and younger viewers to join our annual celebration of Spanish-language and Latinx films, stories, and storytellers with this festive collection of kid-centric animated and narrative short films. From merry-go-rounds to missing socks and pet pigs to piñata contests, it is a visual feast for Spanish and English speakers alike: El Moño (Luis Fernando Puente & Lizde Arias, US 2022, 8 min), Cleo & Nina (Manrique Cortés Castro, Costa Rica 2021, 2 min), The Dance (El Baile) (Pedro Pablo Vega Reyes, Colombia 2021, 15 min), Mist (Niebla) (Leonardo Romero Zarza, Colombia 2020, 10 min), The Piñata (Verónica Ramírez, Mexico 2021, 13 min), With a Wool Ball (Con un ovillo de lana) (Belén Ricardes, Argentina 2022, 5 min), Under the Same Sky (Ana Laura Calderón, Mexico 2023, 15 min), La Calesita (Augusto Schillaci, Argentina 2022, 10 min). Ages 6+. In Spanish with English subtitles
Shorts: You Got to Run
“You learn to be your own best friend, and you learn how and you learn when, to take a chance….” Be they new friendships or seasoned ones, stories of kindred spirits finding joy, comfort, and support are told in lovely detail in these short films. Physically separated by COVID, two girls find a touching bond via their adjoining rooftops in Ana Laura Calderón’s Under the Same Sky (Mexico 2023, 15 min). A woman faces the reality that maybe her roommate needs different things in their relationship in LaTajh A. Weaver’s delightful Companion (US 2023, 5 min). A chance encounter between an Israeli boy and a mysterious stranger yields something special in Liel Simon’s Seaweed (Israel/Germany 2023, 22 min). An Iranian youth finds fierce loyalty and solidarity among her two closest friends in Mostafa Keshvari’s powerful For Her (Canada 2023, 15 min). Two female friends — one blind, the other in a wheelchair — find that this day they decided to spend together is anything but An Ordinary Day (South Korea 2023, 19 min), a beautiful film from Ju-yeon Gim.
Shorts: Youth Works
This year’s collection of peer-reviewed, youth-produced short films showcases an international cohort of storytellers who span genres from animation to documentary, comedy, horror, and drama. It’s an inspiring display of emerging young talent from as close to home as San Rafael and San Francisco and as far afield as Australia, Belgium, and Belarus: Clownin‘ (Samantha Jimenez Garcia, US 2023, 6 min), David’s Doodles (Michelle Tang, US 2023, 5 min), Daisies (Ana Testas, US 2023, 6 min) Bestiary (Paul Van der Stegen, France 2023, 13 min), Bloody River (Polina Bai, Belarus 2023, 1 min), Goose Town (Gaspard Choquet, US 2023, 9 min), Mountain Man (Otis Monteny, Belgium 2023, 5 min), binary. (Milan Mackenzie Wood & Maddie Barbiee, US 2023, 14 min), Burnout (Jonathon Charlie Copson-Pacal, Australia 2023, 4 min), My Sisters in the Stars: The Story of Lee Yong-soo (Ian Kim, US 2023, 10 min), Better Late Than Never (Estevan Evaristo Garcia, US 2022, 1 min), Room (Ian Dani Kim, US 2022, 9 min), Yesterday, Again (Noah Shin, US 2022, 10 min). In English, French, and Korean with English subtitles. Ages 12+
Note: This program contains some profanity and references to teen suicide and teen alcohol/drug use.