A pair of acclaimed actors and their respective directors stole the show on Opening Night of the 41st Mill Valley Film Festival.

A Private War star Rosamund Pike and Green Book‘s Mahershala Ali incited a constellation of flash bulbs upon their arrival at a pre-screening reception at the Outdoor Art Club Thursday evening, and did so again at subsequent red carpet events at the CineArts Sequoia and Rafael Film Center, where their respective films screened.

Pike, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for 2014’s Gone Girl, was joined by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary for 2015’s Cartel Land, won the Directors Guild’s documentary award for that film and City of Ghosts, and for whom A Private War is the first narrative feature film. Pike stars as the late American-born British war reporter Marie Colvin, and is based on Marie Brenner’s 2012 Vanity Fair article “Marie Colvin’s Private War.” Colvin’s career spanned two decades and “pushed her to the top of her male-dominated field—a singular passion that jeopardized her personal relationships and her own health.” 

Ali stars with Viggo Mortensen as classically trained jazz piano prodigy Dr. Don Shirley, whose white chauffeur and bodyguard Tony Lip (played by Mortensen) as they embark on a 1962 concert tour of the American South. Ali, who won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Barry Jenkins’ Oscar Best Picture winner, Moonlight  was join at the opening night festivities by director Peter Farrelly, best known as the director, along with his brother Bob, who helmed comedy classics like There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber.

“I know it is hard to believe, but ‘Dumb & Dumber’ was never at Cannes,” Farrelly joked to the San Francisco Chronicle. As a film festival rookie, Farrelly said he relied on experts for direction. “They told me go to Toronto, London, Zurich and Mill Valley, and I went, ‘Mill Valley? Really?’ I didn’t know which festivals were big and which ones aren’t, and they were very clear that Mill Valley is an important festival and one of the tastemakers,” he said.
The Opening Night Gala featured food from Belcampo, Big Jim’s BBQ, Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato, Johnny Doughnuts, Pizza Antica, El Huarache Loco, Farmshop, Wise Sons Bagelry, Fisher’s Cheese & Wine, and Sol Food, refreshing beverages provided by BevMo, Bartenders Unlimited, Lagunitas Brewing Company and Equator Coffee, and a chance to dance the night away to live music from Notorious, DJ Rich Factor and the Crackerjack DJs.

The 411: The 41st Mill Valley Film Festival runs through Oct. 14 at venues in Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Larkspur. MORE INFO & TIX.

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