Irene Ojdana
December 13, 2015 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Film Festival 2015- A Celebration of Film, Wine and Food

On November 11, Ed and I began a week-long participation in the 5th anniversary of the Napa Valley Film Festival. The night before, as members of the Patron Circle of the Festival, we were invited to a special sneak preview at St. Helena's Cameo Theater of The 33, the real-life story based  33 miners that survived 69 days when a gold and silver mine collaped in Chile. Antonio Banderas was fabulous in the role of the miner who assumed the leadership role to keep everyone going. All 33 survived! The following night--the opening night--we saw the super-interesting documentary Somm: Into the Bottle, directed by Jason Wise. Wise also directed the documentary Somm, about what several people had to go through to pass the sommeliers' entrance exam and which was shown by the Festival two years ago. While Somm is a character-driven film, Somm: Into the Bottle looks at the world of wine through the eyes of the best somms, and all that it takes to both get a bottle of wine on a wine list and all the processes it takes that go into making that glass of wine you have swirling in your hand. The screening of this film at the start of the Festival was so appropriate as Napa Valley is one of the premier wine regions in the world.

Irene and John Travolta at the NapaValley Film FestivalWine experiences in each of four Festival Villages provided an opportunity to taste a variety and quality of wines that is unmatched by any festival, wine or otherwise. Wonderful wines were also poured at Festival screenings, parties, gala and film industry mixers. At Meadowood Napa Valley, a major sponsor of the Festival for the fifth year in a row, hosting the festival's competition filmmakers and Artists-in-Residence Program, Ed and I attended a dinner party, where fabulous Peter Michael wines were poured (other than our own Vineyard {511}, our favorite wine). Ed and I were lucky enough to sit with John Travolta, his beautiful wife Kelly Preston and 15-year-old daughter, who was, unfortunately, too young to drink the great wine. I told her to come back to the Valley when she was old enough to have some of our Vineyard {511}.

Travolta told me he thought the Napa Valley Film Festival was the classiest film festival he had ever attended, including Cannes and the rest! We also learned all about the planes Travolta has flown; in fact, he flew his family to the Festival and left that evening (using another pilot) to fly them to Hawaii. He received a celebrity tribute, at the Celebrity Tribute program hosted by Billy Bush the night before.  Travolta's film Life on the Line, about linemens' experiences on electrical poles, had its world premier screening earlier that night.

Irene and Bobby Flay at the Napa Valley Film FestivalNot to be outdone by all the opportunites to experience fine wines, Variety magazine presented a forum for food and wine experts to share their creativity, mouthwatering insights, and samples for members of the Patron Circle, where local chefs created unique dishes paired with iconic mobies. Chef Bobby Flay and food critic Lee Schrager were among the celebrated panelists who evaluated and discussed the dishes, as well as movies about food. Bobby Flay said that our Jiro Dreams of Sushi was the only movie he watched twice, exactly in a row.

Some of my favorite films were Spotlight about the Boston Globe's investigation into the cover up by the Boston Archdiocese of sex abuse by priests, Tumbledown, starring the amazing Rebecca Hall, and Carol about the relationship of the characters played by Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara.

Needless to say, the fifth anniversary of the Napa Valley Film Festival was the best they've had yet!



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