Running October 4-14, 2012, at venues in Marin County, CA, the 35th annual Mill Valley Film Festival has announced is Opening and Closing galas, Centerpiece, Spotlights and Tributes programming. From the official press release:

Presented by the California Film Institute (CFI), the Mill Valley Film Festival turns 35 with 11 days of cinema, panels, workshops, concerts, Spotlights and Tributes at venues in Marin County, California from October 4-14, 2012. The internationally acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festival is greatly anticipated by cinema aficionados and film industry professionals alike, is well known for the quality of its programming, and is considered the West Coast’s launching pad for the annual awards season. MVFF holds the distinction of presenting the Bay Area premieres of three of the last four films that have gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, The Artist).

Opening and Closing Night Galas
This year’s festival opens on Thursday, October 4 with two films: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK at the CinéArts@Sequoia in Mill Valley at 7:00 PM and 7:15 PM and ON THE ROAD at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael at 6:30 PM and 6:45 PM.

In SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, director David O. Russell, who is expected to attend opening night, follows up his Oscar-winning drama THE FIGHTER with the story of a bipolar Philadelphian (Bradley Cooper) who makes a concerted effort to look on the bright side of life.

ON THE ROAD, directed by Walter Salles, has Jack Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), shambling after the manic, ecstatic Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) as they crisscross the country fueled by Benzedrine-laced tea, hot barroom jazz and a desire for sensory kicks. Salles is also expected to attend.

Following the two screenings, special guests and audiences will celebrate at the Opening Night Gala featuring local wineries, breweries and Marin chefs preparing farm-to-table cuisine, held at Mill Valley’s Downtown Plaza, from 9.30 p.m. The Opening Night films and celebrations are proudly sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Closing Night Gala events take place October 14 with the much-anticipated epic journey of adventure and discovery LIFE OF PI (based on the novel by Yann Martel), directed by Ang Lee, who will be honored at MVFF with the Variety International Filmmaker of the Year Award both for his tradition of breaking new ground and bold artistic vision that is creating great public anticipation and excitement for this film. Ang Lee returns to MVFF five years after his film LUST, CAUTION opened the festival in 2007. The festival wraps with its Closing Night Party at 32TEN Studios in San Rafael from 7:00 PM. Closing Night films are sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle and Jennifer Coslett MacCready.

Centerpiece, Spotlights, MVFF Award & Tributes
On Saturday, October 6 at 7:00 PM actor John Hawkes will be honored at the Smith Rafael Film Center with a MVFF Award and Spotlight for his most recent film THE SESSIONS, sponsored by Jennifer Coslett MacCready. The film will be screened following the Spotlight. Director Ben Lewin and co-star William H. Macy will join John Hawkes in person at the screening and at a reception at Tiburon Tavern. Portraying poet-journalist Mark O’Brien, confined to an iron lung, Hawkes crackles with wit, frustration and anticipation as he attempts to lose his virginity with the help of a Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a professional sex surrogate.

On Sunday, October 7 at 6:30 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center, Academy Award winning director and co-star Billy Bob Thornton will be honored with a MVFF Award and Spotlight on his work, which will include a screening of his latest film JAYNE MANSFIELD’S CAR, sponsored by Sonnen BMW. The thick Alabama air drips with atmosphere in Thornton’s visceral, provocative tale of a strained Southern family meeting distant English counterparts who have come to bury their recently deceased matriarch among “her people,” co-starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon. A post screening reception will be held at Hawk’s Tavern, Mill Valley.

Acting legend Dustin Hoffman appears on Tuesday, October 9 at 7:00 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center in a special Tribute to honor his career and to receive a MVFF Award. The Tribute will include a Variety Master Class Discussion between the actor and Variety Executive Editor Steven Gaydos, along with a clip show of his career and screening of his directorial debut QUARTET. The film is a charming, humorous drama that features a stellar cast including Dame Maggie Smith as a grand diva opera star, and takes place in the heart of the English countryside at Beecham House, a home for retired, genteel musicians. The evening continues with a dinner to benefit MVFF at Frantoio Ristorante and Olive Oil Co., co-sponsored by Christopher B. and Jeannie Meg Smith and Frantoio Ristorante and Olive Oil Co.

The festival will also pay a special Tribute to internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair, who will receive a MVFF Award on Wednesday, October 10 at 7:00 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center, followed by a screening of one of the films from an illustrious career that includes Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, and Monsoon Wedding. Her newest film is THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, a political thriller about a young Pakistani man chasing Wall Street success who finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis and his family’s homeland. A special reception follows at Nourish at Harbor Point.

The Centerpiece Spotlight on Wednesday, October 10 at 7:00 PM at the Century Cinema, Corte Madera will include the presentation of a MVFF Award to DreamWorks Animation and showcase the studio’s latest RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, followed by a conversation with DreamWorks Animation CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Creative Officer, Bill Damaschke, and the film’s director Peter Ramsey. When the boogeyman emerges from the closet to turn children’s dreams into nightmares, childhood’s Guardians—Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and the Sandman—must band together and draw on their strongest powers to combat his evil. The Centerpiece Spotlight is co-sponsored by Technicolor and Dolby Laboratories.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company continues a tradition of sponsoring a family night film at MVFF with a special 35th Anniversary commemorative screening of preeminent Marin director George Lucas’ STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. The event will be held Monday, October 8 beginning at 5:00 PM with family festivities, film at 6:00 PM, at the Century Cinema, Corte Madera.

Special Appearances
On Friday, October 5 at 7:00 PM at the Rafael Film Center, Ben Affleck appears in person with his film ARGO. In the tradition of 1970s espionage thrillers, actor-director Ben Affleck has crafted an unflinchingly tense caper film which follows the real-life exploits of CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) as he attempts to free a small group of US Embassy workers trapped in Iran during the hostage crisis of 1979–81.

Documentarian Ken Burns
appears in ‘A Master Class Conversation’ with Michael Fox on Saturday, October 6 at 11:00 AM at the Smith Rafael Film Center in conjunction with a screening later in the day at 3:30 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center of his new documentary THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE.

Rock ‘n’ roll’s eternally bewitching ‘Gold Dust Woman’ Stevie Nicks appears in-person on Friday, October 12 at 6:30 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center, opening her home studio and creative process to music collaborator, documentarian and former Eurythmics mastermind Dave Stewart, as the pair document the recording of Stevie’s critically acclaimed album in Stewart’s documentary IN YOUR DREAMS-STEVIE NICKS.

Director-Actor Fisher Stevens will attend MVFF on Saturday, October 13 at 7:30 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center and Sunday, October 14 at 8:30 PM at the CinéArts@Sequoia as director of his latest work STAND UP GUYS, the action-comedy starring acting legends Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as aging mobsters.

Sopranos creator David Chase is expected to attend the screening of NOT FADE AWAY, his debut feature film, a rock-infused, coming of age tale of a young man in New Jersey circa 1964. A great ensemble of talented young performers is joined by seasoned Sopranos star James Gandolfini, with original soundtrack produced by Steven Van Zandt.

Local films include World Premieres of Bay Area documentaries VILLAGE MUSIC: THE LAST OF THE GREAT RECORD STORES, directed by Gillian Grisman; REBELS WITH A CAUSE, directed by Nancy Kelly; and California premieres of APPROXIMATELY NELS CLINE by director Steven Okazaki and WITHOUT A NET by Kelly Richardson.

Mill Valley ASCAP Music Café
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers joins forces with the California Film Institute to produce the first-ever Mill Valley ASCAP Music Café, a series of exciting, dynamic music showcases taking place at the Sweetwater Music Hall & Café over three days, October 11-13 between 1-5pm, during MVFF. An assortment of composers, songwriters and artists from across the music spectrum will perform, including John Doe, Pomplamoose, Frankmusik, Nova Albion, Broken Anchor, Cocaine 80s, and The Goods, among others, sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mill Valley Children’s FilmFest
Family and kids films from around the world have been a part of the Mill Valley Film Festival since its inception. This year’s Children’s FilmFest, sponsored by Bellam Self Storage and Boxes, honors the Indian family film industry, along with other children’s international feature films and kid friendly activities with a Bollywood Party and Parade, and a children’s animation workshop. Children’s FilmFest are STANLEY’S TIFFIN BOX (India), CHILLAR PARTY (India), LOTTE AND THE MOONSTONE SECRET (Estonia), TALES OF THE NIGHT (France), and TANIA 3 (Brazil).

Panels and Forums at MVFF

Active Cinema: Putting Ideas Into Action and New Movies Lab

MVFF’s Active Cinema program is once again presenting a series of films and events to engage and inspire audiences. The documentary and narrative feature films included in this program were chosen because they invite viewers to explore significant societal and global issues. Active Cinema events are structured around filmmakers engaging with audiences and creating a dialogue for social change. Sponsored by Bellam Self Storage and Boxes, the goal of Active Cinema is to take the passion and fearlessness of the film community and encourage others to contribute their talents and efforts to positively impact the world. Some titles include BIDDER 70 by Beth Gage and George Gage, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE by Ken Burns, WAR WITCH by Kim Nguyen, and XINGU by Cao Hamburger.

MVFF’s New Movies Lab features workshops and panels on the art, technology and business of filmmaking with top filmmakers and industry professionals. This year panels and forums include MVFF’s popular collaboration with Cinemasports’ Jin Joo returns with filmmaker teams from Mill Valley competing against the clock to create, shoot, and edit a filmic masterpiece in one day, alongside filmmakers from Taiwan, South Africa, and Azerbaijan. Cinemasports at MVFF begins Sunday morning, October 7, 9:00 AM at the Old Mill Park, Mill Valley culminating with a public screening same day at 8:00 PM at the 142 Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley. At the ‘Active Cinema: Hike and Ideas Exchange’, with Bay Area filmmakers featured in this year’s festival hosting a hike and skills exchange on Saturday October 13, 10:15 AM-12:30 PM, meeting in the Tennessee Valley trailhead parking lot/picnic area.

A panel and reception, ‘Independent Film in the 21st Century: Opportunity or Challenge?’ features invited distributors, filmmakers, and industry executives including moderator Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards, Music Box Films Managing Director Ed Arentz, Roku marketing head Eric Lachter, and CEO of Milyoni, John Corpus on Sunday, October 7 at 1:00 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center.

In addition to the numerous premieres, gala celebrations, musical concerts, panels, workshops and special programs, every year MVFF hosts major actors and filmmakers in the motion picture industry who present their latest works or receive tributes for their illustrious careers. Recent MVFF honored guests have included actors Glenn Close, Clive Owen, James Franco, Uma Thurman, Annette Bening, Michelle Yeoh, Edward Norton and Tim Robbins as well as directors John Woo, Luc Besson, Ang Lee, Danny Boyle, Sydney Pollack and Alejandro González Iñárritu, among many others.

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