Listed by Screen International as one of the ‘top 10’ Festivals in the United States, the Mill Valley Film Festival is California’s longest-running fall festival. Mark Fishkin started the 3-day showcase in 1977 and turned it into a world-renowned, eleven-day celebration of new and independent films, world cinema, documentaries, active cinema, educational and music programs. Each year the festival welcomes more than 200 filmmakers, representing more than 50 countries.
We couldn’t be happier they’ve invited Mo’ to join Amy Adams, Emma Stone, Nicole Kidman, Gael García Bernal and many more artists to be in one of the most anticipated film festivals of the year. If you haven’t had a chance to see the film yet – this is the screening to catch! Thanks to our Kickstarter backers who made all this possible!
Local history buffs are in for a treat. New Mo’ Cut precedes the world premiere of Circus Kid,directed by Lorenzo Pisoni.
Who remembers going to the Pickle Family Circus? I do!
Circus Kid is an intimate portrait of San Francisco’s famed Pickle Family Circus and of its mercurial founder, Larry Pisoni. Started in the 1970s, the one-ring circus entertained with dazzling acrobatics, juggling, and often-subversive clowning—a direct precursor of Cirque du Soleil. Born into this milieu, Lorenzo was six when he donned matching greasepaint and baggy pants to join Larry in a brilliant father-son act. Exhaustion and personal demons eventually drove Larry to abandon the troupe and his family. With Circus Kid, Lorenzo seeks to reconstruct what happened and reconcile with his father’s complex legacy. Including vintage footage and interviews with legendary performers Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle, this unique glimpse of clown life shouldn’t be missed.
A sampling of films I’m looking forward to:
California Typewriter Directed by Doug Nichol
Weaving three stories—of a Berkeley repair business, a Canadian collector, and a Bay Area artist—and including interviews with famous typewriter devotees like Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard, and David McCullough, this documentary celebrates the creative virtues and tactile joys of the typewriter. But rather than a eulogy for yet another mechanical device tossed on the slag heap of obsolete technology—joining the Polaroid, the album, and sprocketed film—this microhistory is both a love letter to this humble tool and a pointed critique of our digital age. For some, the typewriter’s limits are benefits, even a state of mind. Ultimately, the film suggests we move past that modern technological conundrum—analog or digital?—and simply embrace both.
Company Town Directed by Deborah Kaufman & Alan Snitow
Few American cities have experienced the upheaval of San Francisco in the Internet Age. The influx of highly paid tech workers, and the decampment of artists and bohemians to remote locales, is a sign o’ the times. Another is the aggressive advancement of the “sharing economy” and its impact on affordable housing and the city’s character. The focus throughout Company Town is on individuals, underscoring that a city’s strength isn’t its power brokers but its residents.
Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) Directed by Gianfranco Rosi
Samuele, an anxious young boy and slingshot aficionado with a lazy eye, is among the locals who takes a turn in the spotlight alongside migrants in Gianfranco Rosi’s beautiful and moving neorealist documentary. For the director, the small Sicilian island of Lampedusa acts as a focal point to address the European refugee crisis, a rocky and barren place that has become a primary entry for those fleeing war and other ravages in Africa. Fire at Sea shows the perils of these journeys—overcrowding, dehydration, and death—while avoiding emotional grandstanding or partisan politics. No hyperbolic voiceover or intrusive score here; just the undeniable, heart-wrenching facts of the situation. Fire at Sea, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, brilliantly juxtaposes the side-by-side relationship of Lampedusa’s residents with the desperate people trying to reach her shores and leaves the viewer to make the subtle connections between the two.
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent Directed by Lydia Tenaglia
Was visionary chef Jeremiah Tower’s name a sign of destiny, or mere prescience? Because this father of California cuisine has a legacy that looms over the culinary landscape, as told in this savory documentary. Featuring wonderful archival footage and a who’s who of household names in all things gastronomic, Lydia Tenaglia’s delicious cinematic treat examines Tower’s early days at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, his creation of San Francisco’s revolutionary Stars restaurant—and then his sudden prolonged period of self-exile. But like peeling an onion, we slowly learn more about his contradictions—the generous control freak, the elusive social dandy—and his overriding passion: Not only to serve great food, but also to create a universe of experience around a simple dinner plate.
Loving Directed by Jeff Nichols
Based on real events, Jeff Nichols’ extraordinary film has a lyrical eloquence that honors the heart of the story of Richard and Mildred Loving (played with understated brilliance by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), the interracial couple whose quiet courage helped change the face of the law of marriage in the US.
Maya Angelou and Still I Rise Directed by Bob Hercules Rita Coburn Whack
This premier documentary unearths rare archival material to illuminate the life of Dr. Maya Angelou, American poet and performer. James Baldwin, Oprah Winfrey, Alfre Woodard, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Cicely Tyson, Angelou’s son Guy Johnson, and others offer deep insights into this phenomenal woman and the power of her liberated voice. Rooted in humble beginnings and an adventurous creative life, Angelou rose to international prominence with her acclaimed autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an account of how childhood trauma made her mute and how poetry and individual expression led her out to the wider world where her indomitable spirit could shine.
My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond Directed by Catherine Ryan Gary Weimberg
Meet Dr. Marian Diamond as she pulls a human brain out of a hatbox and lovingly enumerates its astonishing qualities. A mad scientist? Quite the opposite. In this energetic documentary, Dr. Diamond is revealed as one of the great minds—one of the founders, in fact—of modern neuroscience. If her name isn’t yet as familiar as that of Marie Curie, it will be: Dr. Diamond’s unprecedented work includes theorizing and proving previously unimagined brain capabilities, analyzing Albert Einstein’s preserved brain, and building a scientific and academic career that broke barriers for women in science. Watch this to learn about an amazing woman, a brilliant scientist, a fascinating branch of scientific research, and about the core element that fuels great achievement in all endeavors: love.
Tower Directed by Keith Maitland
Director Keith Maitland transforms tragedy into art in this mesmerizing and inventive documentary. In 1966, a sniper terrorized the University of Texas-Austin campus, shooting from its clock tower for 96 minutes of random killing and wounding. The film revisits that day, seamlessly combining live-action modeled animation, archival footage, and present-day interviews. The movie is a mosaic of interwoven narratives, at times a suspenseful thriller or unconventional love story. Ultimately, Maitland is interested less in the sniper than in how ordinary people reacted to the unfolding horror. The film is an unexpectedly invigorating and layered portrait of the human response to inhuman violence.
Visitor’s Day (Día de Visita) Directed by Nicole Opper
Three hours from Mexico City, at-risk boys thrive in a rural group home that offers counseling, job training, and perhaps most importantly, hope, something that few of the young residents have ever experienced. The title of this quietly observant documentary from Oakland filmmaker Nicole Opper refers to the most anticipated day at the facility—or the most heartbreaking, as in the case of lonely teenager Juan Carlos, a runaway who longs to reconnect with the father who abandoned him years ago.
You’re Killing Me, Susana (Me estas matando Susana) Directed by Roberto Sneider
A young couple from Mexico City discovers that an Iowa college campus is an unlikely but idyllic place to save their troubled marriage after philandering actor Eligio (Gael García Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle; Y Tu Mamá También; Neruda, MVFF 2016) follows wife Susana (Verónica Echegui, Hunter’s Prayer) to a writers’ workshop in the United States.
For complete festival schedule and events visit mvff.com
*film descriptions are from mvff.com