MVFF won’t have a physical presence in Mill Valley for the first time in its history.

Images from the first batch of films announce as part of the 43rd Mill Valley Film Festival. Courtesy images.
In a year like no other in recent history, the 43rd Mill Valley Film Festival will be unlike any of its editions that came before it.

California Film Institute Mark Fishkin Founder/Executive Director this week announced early details on the 43rd Mill Valley Film Festival, an event that runs Oct. 8-18 and spans virtual screenings, drive-in screenings and heavy dose of documentaries to account for the postponement of the DocLands documentary film festival in May.

“Although MVFF43 will not look the same as in previous years, what initially seemed like a challenge now feels like an opportunity to bring us together in an unexpected way, during an unprecedented time,” Fishkin said in his announcement. “We will continue to boast the year’s best films from all corners of the globe this year, professionally showcased in an online virtual cinema and at the studio grade, MVFF43 Drive-In Cinema being installed at the beautiful Lagoon Park-Marin Center in San Rafael.”

That drive-in will feature 10 nights of screenings, as well as a full slate of DocLands films, CFI’s documentary film festival postponed from earlier this year. Due to logistical complications related to the COVID-19 crisis, MVFF43 will not include any Mill Valley presence for the first time in its history.

MVFF43’s Drive-In Cinema kicks off Oct. 8 with the world premiere of Edward Hall’s Blithe Spirit, based on the 1941 play by Noël Coward, featuring Dame Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, and Leslie Mann.

“The film is a true delight, conveying a high-energy and ‘spirited’ story that has withstood the test of time,” Fishkin said. “Featuring an abundance of wit and a bit of fantasy, it is the perfect antidote to months of sheltering in place. Join us as we once again celebrate the magic of the movies, gathered together safely, under a screen – and sky – full of stars.”

The 2020 Virtual Screenings will debut with Ariel Winograd’s wildly entertaining ride through the execution of one of the greatest bank heists in Argentinian history, The Heist of the Century (El Robo Del Siglo); Alexandre Rockwell’s Sweet Thing, a stunning ode to the magical resilience of childhood; the California Premiere of Byambasuren Davaa’s Veins of the World, which follows a young Mongolian boy as he learns grief can be a source of empowerment in his quest to honor his father’s memory; the US Premiere of The Boys Who Said No!, the third in a triptych on war, resistance, and nonviolence from Oscar-nominated Bay Area filmmaker Judith Ehrlich; and David Garrett Byars’ Public Trust, an in-depth exploration of the mounting conflict over public lands in America, which was to be the Opening Night film of the previously postponed DocLands Documentary Film Festival.

“We’ve consciously sought out films from many cultural and aesthetic perspectives that inspire and inform, as well as being, we hope, balm for the soul, as we navigate the deep challenges and shifts of 2020. We’ll explore a theme of Democracy, through films and conversations. We’ll explore Black American stories, through the eyes of filmmakers like Regina King and Radha Blank,“ said Zoë Elton, MVFF Director of Programming. “And Mind the Gap, our equity initiative, will focus on examining how issues around inequalities in film can be reframed, centering the voices of those who have remained on the margins for far too long. This year a series of MTG events will stream free worldwide, a first for us! And, we’ve surpassed our goal: at MVFF43, 57% of directors and co-directors across the Festival are women.”

Here’s the trailer for Blithe Spirit:

The 411: Due to Covid-19, the only way to purchase tickets this year is online via Tix go on sale to CFI Members September 23 @ Noon and to the general public September 27 @ Noon. 

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