Here’s why the Napa Valley Film Festival should be on your radar: After watching a documentary, you can enjoy a glass of cult cabernet and hobnob with celebrities such as Colin Farrell, Patrick Wilson and Dianna Agron. The festival, which runs November 13 to 17, features 12 screening venues, 125 films, 300 filmmakers, 150 wines, 50 chefs and 18 epicurean feasts. The impressive lineup of events includes an opening gala, a celebrity tribute, an awards ceremony, a tasting area, industry panels, culinary demonstrations and countless parties. These are the three events we’re most excited about:
Screening of Saving Mr. Banks + Festival Gala
Although the schedule of events starts on November 13, the festival doesn’t really get going until November 14. Then at 5:30 p.m., the Napa Valley Opera House will host a red carpet screening of Saving Mr. Banks, John Lee Hancock’s film about the making of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. Both Hancock and one of the movie’s stars, Farrell, will attend the screening. Following the film, the who’s who of the NVFF (aka filmmakers, sponsors and the festival’s Patron Circle and Pass Plus holders, though you can buy a ticket as well) will head to the LifeStyle Pavilion in downtown Napa for the Festival Gala. The official kick-off party features music by Olive and the Dirty Martinis, Jon Roniger, DJ Upcut, and Dirty Cello and Symphony Napa Valley Orchestra Institute Fellows. Gala goers get to taste an assortment of wines from labels such as Jamieson Ranch, Swanson Vineyards and Alpha Omega, and delicious bites whipped up by local chefs including Chris Mortenson of La Condesa, Mauro Pando of Grace’s Table and Victor Scargle of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Lucy Restaurant and Bar.
Tickets: screening: $10, available after festival pass holders are admitted; gala: $150; Pass Plus and Patrons Pass holders are invited to attend both the screening and gala.
The New Power Lunch
The latest addition to the festival’s lineup, the New Power Lunch takes place on November 16 from noon to 2:30 p.m. Titled “Celebrating Women Making a Difference,” the afternoon affair is a benefit for the NVFF’s Education and Outreach programs. Freida Mock, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, and Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, the subject of a film about a school for former child sex slaves in Uganda, are being honored at the event. The women will speak about their lives and respective movies, Anita and Sewing Hope. Women of the Vine will be on hand pouring local bottles produced by a community of women winemakers, including Cynthia Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards and Jana Harvey of Jana Winery. A three-course meal celebrating the flavors of fall will be prepared by chef Catherine Bergen of C Casa.
Tickets: $250 individual, $2,500 per hosted table of 10; includes choice 10 a.m. screening of Anita or Sewing Hope.
On the night of November 16, the celebrities, winemakers and industry guests will head out to one of 18 different wineries to enjoy an extravagant dinner prepared by a local chef with wine pairings by the vineyard. Participating wineries and chefs include Raymond Vineyards with host Jean-Charles Boisset and chef Michel Cornu, Vintner’s Collective with Philippe Melka and chef Masaharu Morimoto, and Bello Family Vineyards with chef Richard Perot. Each dinner is unique and may include previews of yet-to-be released wines among a fabulous setting.
To attend one of the dinners, you must have a festival Patrons Pass ($2,500).
Photos Courtesy of Napa Valley Film Festival-Bob McClenahan and Walt Disney Pictures