Irene Ojdana
November 24, 2017 | Irene Ojdana

Napa Valley Film Festival 2017

The seventh annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), which ran November 18-12, was an amazing week celebrating cinematic storytelling in all it's forms and celebrating the bounty of Napa Valley with incredible, film, food and wine in a beautiful setting.  It was a wonderful way to showcase the area's resilience to bounce back from the wildfires that effected some parts Napa Valley. The festival donated 10% of proceeds to the victims of the wildfires.

The week was hectic going from film to film, partying like crazy at dinner parties at Meadowood and Eleven Eleven and at receptions at the Caldwell Snyder Gallery, Italics Winegrowers, Acumen Wines, CIA at Copia and at the wrap party at Materra/Cunat Family Vineyards. The night before the official opening, Patrons of the NVFF were invited to a screening of "Back to Burgundy," about a heartwarming French winemaking family. After the screening, we headed down the street to the Caldwell Gallery for a meet the artists reception. The next night, Ed and I chatted with actor David Arquette at a pre-opening night reception at Acumen Tasting Lounge.


The opening night film at Napa's Uptown Theater was our favorite film (which we sponsored), "The Upside,'" starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman. The film about a parapralegic crumudgeon (Bryan Cranston) and his cheeky personal assistant (Kevin Hart) was hilarious and uplifting and also our favorite film of the festival.

The next day, Ed participated in a panel in the Festival's Artist in Residence program at Meadoweed, giving advice to up and coming filmmakers. Meadowood has been a major sponsor of the Festival for the whole 7 years. Ed is on the board of Go Digital, a digital distribution company.

I do want to give a shout out to "Laddie," a documentary about Alan Ladd Jr., produced by his daughter Amanda Ladd. All I thought I knew about Alan Ladd Jr., was that he was the son of romantic film star Alan Ladd. Little did Ed and I know how prolific a producer of blockbuster movies he was until he retired, such as "Star Wars,"and "Braveheart."

That evening we watched as Access Hollywood's Natalie Morales hosted a celebrity tribute to  legendary filmmaker Nancy Meyers ("Private Benjamin," "Something's Got To Give," "Parenthood," and "It's Complicated,") to name a few. Meyer talked about the current revelations of sexual assault in Hollywood and praised the women who had come forward "who were doing something amazing for all of us." Actors Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg ("Boardwalk Empire," "Fargo"), also received celebrity tributes. After the screening of "The Shape of Water," in which both Shannon and Stuhlbarg starred, we sat next to Stuhlbarg and his wife Mai at the dinner that followed.

We attended a Caldwell Vineyard Maverik tribute for Will Ferrell with a 1-1sany conversation with writer Andrew Steele. Afterwards, we watched a screening of off-beat "Stranger Than Fiction," in which Ferrell plays an accountant of all things and in which he was happy not to play a crazy person. Later that evening, Ed and I sat across the table from Ferrell and his lovely wife Vivica Paulin.


The festival concluded with a closing night screening of "Molly's Game," directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica, Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner, the game being Molly's (played by Chastain) high stakes poker scene. The wrap party followed at Materra Cunat Family Vineyards, with food, music and dancing and looks towards NVFF 2018.





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