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By Mark Bell | September 22, 2012

The 2012 Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), running November 7 – 11, 2012, has announced the features in competition and the members of this year’s jury. From the official press release:

The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) is pleased to unveil its latest announcements: the complete line-up of films in Competition; the host of this year’s Awards Ceremony, NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai; and the full elite panel of Jurors who will choose award winners at the second annual NVFF, November 7 – 11. Mathai, the three-time Emmy award-winning weeknight news anchor for NBC Bay Area, will host the Closing Night Awards Ceremony on Sunday, November 11. Leading the Jury will be Leonard Maltin, the celebrated and beloved film critic and historian, who will preside over the presentation of the many Juried and Audience Awards.

“We are extremely proud to have prominent personalities such as Leonard and Raj spearhead the Jury and Awards ceremony and present to the many talented filmmakers who we are celebrating at this year’s Festival,” said Brenda Lhormer, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Napa Valley Film Festival. “We are also incredibly excited to announce the line-up of films in Competition – we believe that these films will wow audiences and inspire conversation.”

One of the highly anticipated screenings this year is a film titled Between Us, based on a hit Off-Broadway play written by Joe Hortua and starring Julia Stiles, Taye Diggs, Melissa George and David Harbour. The film is in direct competition with other Narrative Feature Films including Dog Years, Any Day Now, Stuck, Funeral Kings and five more.

Additional notable films headlining the NVFF include The Cardboard Bernini, directed by Olympia Stone, which tells the story of the unusual work and life of artist James Grashow and follows his creative process over four years as he builds a giant cardboard fountain inspired by the work of the famous baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Rising from Ashes is a documentary about how two worlds collide when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda to help struggling genocide survivors pursue their dreams of creating a national team. Director T.C. Johnstone will present his film along with members of Team Rwanda. Both of these films, as well as Trash Dance, Getting Up, High Ground, Of Two Minds and four more, are in direct competition in the Documentary Feature Film genre.

A complete list of films in competion can be found below:

Narrative Features:

Any Day Now, Directed by Travis Fine
Between Us, Directed by Dan Mirvish
Dog Years, Directed Warren Sroka and Brent Willis
Falling Uphill, Directed by Richard Bosner
Funeral Kings, Directed by Kevin and Matthew McManus
Future Weather, Directed by Jenny Deller
Not Waving But Drowning, Directed by Devin Waitt
Now, Forager, Directed by Jason Courtlund
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Directed by Terence Nance
Stuck, Directed by Stuart Acher

Documentary Features:

The Cardboard Bernini, Directed by Olympia Stone
G-Dog, Directed by Freida Mock
Getting Up, Directed by Caskey Eberling
High Ground, Directed by Michael Brown
Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings, Directed by Tadashi Nakamura
Of Two Minds, Directed by Doug Blush
Plimpton! Starrring George Plimpton as Himself, Directed by Luke Poling
Rising From Ashes, Directed by T.C. Johnstone
Trash Dance, Directed by Andrew Garrison

The NVFF Jury is divided into three different sub-groups including U.S. Narrative Features, U.S. Documentary Features and Shorts, and U.S. Narrative Short Films. Each Juror brings his or her own experience to these genres and will be voting for the best in each category.

U.S. Narrative Features
John Horn
John Horn covers the film business for the Los Angeles Times, where he has been a staff writer since 2002. He previously served as a senior writer and senior editor for Newsweek and Premiere magazines, and graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sydney Levine

Sydney Levine’s thirty plus years in the film industry include having been the first woman in international film distribution at 20th Century Fox, a pioneering acquisitions executive for Lorimar, and later Vice President of Acquisitions for Republic Pictures. She maintains the blog SydneysBuzz, which appears on IMDbPro’s front page and is a featured blog of IndieWIRE.

Lisa Schwartz
Lisa Schwartz is the Executive Vice President of Distribution, Operations and Business Development for Sundance Selects and IFC Films. In this role, she serves as the senior distribution strategist for the division and oversees domestic and foreign distribution for IFC Films operations across all platforms, including theatrical, premium VOD, pay TV, digital, portable devices, home video and all emerging new platforms.

Morrie Warshawski
Morrie Warshawski has worked in the nonprofit arts and culture sector for over thirty years and formerly served as the Executive Director of Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco. He is the author of many articles and books used extensively by filmmakers, including Shaking The Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film and Video.

Paul Zaentz
Hollywood producer Paul Zaentz is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and started his movie-making career with the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus. Over the last 30 years he had the privilege of working with many brilliant and passionate movie makers on projects such as The Mosquito Coast, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Goya’s Ghosts.

U.S. Documentary Features and Short Films

Lissa Gibbs
Lissa Gibbs’s professional experience includes producing educational and network broadcast documentaries and teaching in middle, high school, and college-level institutions. She has held leadership positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Tucson and at San Francisco’s Film Arts Foundation (FAF), working in all areas of operations including strategic planning, communications, public relations, board relations, program development, fundraising and cultivation, membership, grant writing, and budgeting.

Dan Lindsay
T.J. Martin

Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin are the co-directors, co-editors and co-cinematographers of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, a selection of the 2011 NVFF. Both filmmakers got their start by making independent documentaries and producing, directing and editing several short-form and feature length pieces, individually and as a team. Lindsay was born and raised in Rockford, IL and graduated from the University of Missouri in 2001. Martin was born and raised in Seattle, WA and graduated from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University.

U.S. Narrative Short Films

Sheila Benson
Sheila Benson was the principal film critic for the Los Angeles Times from 1981-1991. Affiliated with the National Society of Film Critics and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, she has served on juries at film festivals including Berlin, Toronto, and Sundance. Her work has appeared in publications from Interview, Premiere and Variety to The New York Times, and can now be found at

Pat Saperstein
Pat Saperstein is associate editor of Variety, where she coordinates festival coverage and daily news. Pat has served on juries at several festivals and has been on numerous panels sharing her wisdom and experiences on topics ranging from independent filmmaking, financing and distribution, to digital filmmaking.

Melanie Lynskey
An accomplished and versatile actress, New Zealand-born Lynskey can currently be seen in Hello I Must Be Going. Past credits include: Win Win; Up in the Air; The Informant; Away We Go; Flags of Our Fathers; Sweet Home Alabama and her first, award-winning role in Heavenly Creatures opposite Kate Winslet. On television, she is loved by audiences for her role as Rose in the hit series Two and a Half Men.

NVFF’s full program will be announced October 1, 2012. The anticipated line-up of over 100 films include U.S. Narrative Features and Shorts, U.S. Documentary Features and Short Subjects; Premieres (including the previously announced World Premiere of SOMM); Studio Sneak Previews and Red Carpet Screenings; a smattering of World Cinema; and an array of special screenings on topics ranging from The America’s Cup, food and wine, heroes overcoming physical and health challenges, and young activists who inspire. Both Audience and Juried Awards will be presented at the Closing Night Awards Ceremony November 11.

During the Festival, Meadowood Napa Valley will host the 10 directors of the feature films in Narrative Competition, who are, collectively, “Artists-In-Residence.” The directors will be paired with prominent industry veterans – their designated mentors – and the groups will meet over the course of the Festival to discuss their careers and issues facing contemporary independent filmmakers.

The Festival is proud to appoint David Ward as Lead Faculty and Mentor for its Artists-In-Residence Program. A celebrated and seasoned Hollywood professional, Ward is known by audiences as the writer and director behind the beloved Major League, co-writer on Sleepless in Seattle, and the screenwriter of the Academy Award-Winning screenplay for The Sting.

The Festival will be held in Napa Valley’s picturesque communities of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, with screening and hospitality venues clustered in four walkable festival villages. The five day “extended weekend” will feature new independent films; Studio Sneak Previews; conversations with attending directors, actors, producers and writers; Opening and Closing Night festivities; the highly anticipated Festival Gala; Celebrity Tribute and Awards Programs; wine tasting pavilions; film industry and culinary-focused panel discussions; and VIP receptions and dinners with Napa Valley’s own celebrity chefs and winemakers.

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