44th Mill Valley Film Festival

With the hilariously quirky, triptych-styled closing night film of “The French Dispatch,” the Mill Valley Film Festival closed out its44th edition Sunday night, capping 11 days of films, panels, parties, and musical performances at the annual autumn showcase. The event drew more than 23,000 attendees in person and 21,000 virtually, concluding with a spirited closing night party at the Mill Valley Lumber Yard.

The festival included 37 premieres and screened 125 films, 66 features, and 59 shorts, represented across 39 countries with 56 percent directed or co-directed by women. Additionally, 2021 marked two milestones: MVFF Education reached over 12,000 students across the US with virtual programming and a limited number of in-person visits in Marin and the East Bay. And Mind the Gap launched its inaugural MTG Creation Grant, awarding $10,000 to first-time director Nana Mensah.

Here are the films that garnered Audience Favorite Awards (clockwise from top left):

  • MVFF Overall Audience Favorite – BELFAST • Kenneth Branagh
  • Audience Favorite / World Cinema – LAST FILM SHOW • Pan Nalin
  • Audience Favorite / US Cinema – C’MON C’MON • Mike Mills
  • Audience Favorite / Documentary – THE RESCUE • Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
  • Audience Favorite / Family – RICKSHAW GIRL • Amitabh Reza Chowdhury
  • Audience Favorite / Active Cinema – REFLECTION: A WALK WITH WATER • Emmett Brennan
  • Audience Favorite / Mind the Gap – LADY BUDS • C.J. Russo
  • Audience Favorite / ¡Viva el cine! – WOMEN IS LOSERS • Lissette Feliciano

During this year’s hybrid festival, audiences attended virtually through the CAFILM Streaming Room and flocked to CinéArts Sequoia and the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in Marin to celebrate the return of in-person screenings. MVFF also returned to Berkeley with a selection of films at BAMPFA (Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive) and held four live music shows at Sweetwater Music Hall.

“My intent for the 44th Mill Valley Film Festival was to create a safe and vibrant festival that entertains and addresses the universal need to gather together and share stories about our common humanity,”MVFF Founder/Director Mark Fishkin said. “After 11 days, 125 films, and over 23,000 guests, I can say unequivocally that the hopes for this year’s festival were realized. The one-two punch of being both in theaters and in the virtual arena made it possible to include a wide selection of films from around the globe that were embraced with unbridled excitement and joy by theatergoers.”

“MVFF44 was slightly smaller with fewer screens than normal (pre-pandemic),” Fishkin continued. “However, it included all the elements, special “Big Night” events, conversations with industry experts, and host to Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch, that make the Mill Valley Film Festival one the most highly anticipated film festivals in the country. Audiences were giddy to be in theaters and showed up in large numbers for films and stayed to enjoy dozens of post-film conversations that took place at CFI’s Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center as well as the Sequoia theater in Mill Valley. I believe that in this polarized world, our work at MVFF44 is more important than ever.”

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