Preview: Napa Valley Film Festival 2016

The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) kicks off its sixth annual festival today and Napa Valley is the perfect setting for this lavish celebration.

Napa Valley Film Festival Premium Wine Tasting Experiences. Photo by Mike Padua.

NAPA, California, November 9, 2016 – The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) kicks off its sixth annual festival today and Napa Valley is the perfect setting for this lavish celebration.

At NVFF, each year’s most outstanding new independent films are washed down with world class food and wine as visitors are greeted each gorgeous morning with opportunities to truly experience the arts and all that Napa Valley offers. #NVFF16 takes place November 9 – 13.

Napa Valley is already well known for its wine, food and art. Now it is film’s turn to shine brightly among these already established stars. During this year’s festival, guests will experience four wine villages, 13 film screens, 120 films, 150 wineries and 50 chefs. All Napa Valley’s best.

NVFF Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Awaits. Image: NVFF.
NVFF Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Awaits. Image: NVFF.

The current festival is filled with amazing films, food and wine for sure. Take in VIP winemaker dinners, festival galas, VIP receptions, celebrities, celebrity chefs, wine tastings, and some of the best independent films of 2016.

Napa Valley Film Festival Image: NVFF
Napa Valley Film Festival
Image: NVFF


“We’re excited to welcome everyone back to Napa Valley for another year of outstanding cinematic storytelling,” said Marc Lhormer, Co-Founder/Artistic Director. “On top of another great batch of films, our team and partners have collaborated on a series of memorable and surprising special events, as well as an incredible array of food and wine experiences. We expect this to be an epic year.”

The festival will play host to an incredible selection of films, including many of this year’s award-contenders, like The Weinstein Company’s “Lion,” which will be this year’s Opening Night film, and Open Road Film’s “Bleed for This.” As the perfect bookend to the festival, the independent documentary “Pisco Punch: A Cocktail Comeback Story” will serve as the Closing Night film.

Like dramatic films? They’ve got those, too. Documentaries? Check. Shorts? Comedies? Check, check. This festival has everything the big film festivals have, plus award-winning Napa Valley wines and culinary delights.

NVFF will alo host a private VIP screening of TWC-Dimension’s highly anticipated film, “Gold.” It stars Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, who will receive the Caldwell Vineyards Maverick Actor Tribute for his outstanding contributions to the art of acting and cinematic storytelling.

Directed by Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan (“Traffic,” “Syriana”), “Gold” is an epic tale of one man’s pursuit of the American dream to discover the precious metal. McConaughey stars as Kenny Wells, a prospector desperate for a lucky break, who teams up with a similarly eager geologist, played by Golden Globe nominee Edgar Ramirez. The pair sets off on an amazing journey to discover gold in the uncharted jungles of Indonesia.

NVFF Opening Night Gala
NVFF Opening Night Gala




Napa Valley Film Festival Co-Founders/Directors Brenda and Marc Lhormer are excited to announce this year’s line-up of Celebrity Tributes that salute the highest level of cinematic achievement. Previously announced honorees include Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell who will each receive the Chandon Rising Star Tribute and Chloe Grace Moretz, along with newly announced Dev Patel, who will each receive the Raymond Vineyards Trailblazer Tribute. This year’s Spotlight Tribute recipient is Viggo Mortensen. The Charles Krug Legendary Filmmaker and Actor Tributes will be presented to acclaimed filmmaker Lee Daniels and actor Kurt Russell, respectively. The Celebrity Tributes will take place on Thursday, November 10 at the Lincoln Theater.

Celebrity tributes this year will include Lee Daniels, Viggo Mortensen, Dev Patel, Kurt Russell (November 10), and other notable celebrities expected to attend include Jessica Biel, Ian Bohen, Josh Charles, Aaron Eckhart, Gordon Getty, Meredith Hagner, Katie Holmes, Sam Huntington, Sam Jaeger, Alex Karpovsky, Rose Leslie, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Joel David Moore, Matt Ross, Wyatt Russell, and Madeline Zima.

Don’t-miss events include the festival kick-off party, opening night gala and screening, celebrity tributes, winemaker dinners, red carpet events, awards ceremonies, late night parties, wrap parties and the opportunity to drink award-winning wines and food all day and night long. Literally, festival attendees will go to see a film and have a glass of Napa wine in hand (or two).

NVFF Featured Opening Night Film: Lion
NVFF Featured Opening Night Film: Lion


This year’s festival kick-off on Nov. 9 begins with an opening night pre-reception and red carpet. Sample some of Napa Valley’s best wine and raise a glass to this year’s Oscar hopefuls. The opening night film is Lion: A five-year old boy who gets lost of the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home, and survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family. Directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman. Dev Patel is expected to attend.


As the perfect bookend to the festival, the independent documentary Pisco Punch: A Cocktail Comeback Story will serve as the Closing Night film. Punch tells the story of one of the world’s greatest forgotten spirits: Peruvian pisco. Director and writer Alan Kropf is expected to attend.

NVFF Closing Night Film: Pisco Punch
NVFF Closing Night Film: Pisco Punch

Other notable films this year include:

Mr. Church – “Mr. Church” tells the story of a unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook – Henry Joseph Church (Eddie Murphy). What begins as a six-month arrangement instead spans into fifteen years and creates a family bond that lasts forever.

Gleason – After he is diagnosed with ALS, former professional football player Steve Gleason begins making a video diary for his unborn son, as he, his wife, and their friends and family work to raise money for ALS patients as his disease progresses. Directed by Clay Tweel and featuring Steve Gleason, Michel Varisco and Rivers Gleason.

Youth in Oregon – A man is tasked with driving his 80 year old father in law cross country to be legally euthanized in Oregon, while along the way helping him rediscover a reason for living. Starring Frank Langella, Christina Applegate and Billy Crudup. Director Joel David is expected to attend.

NVFF Featured Film: Mr. Church starring Eddie Murphy.
NVFF Featured Film: Mr. Church starring Eddie Murphy.


New this year, the Award Ceremony will move from Sunday to Saturday evening, immediately prior to the biggest and most extravagant party, the Festival Gala. During the Award Ceremony, winners of the Juried and Audience Awards will be revealed.

In celebration of six fabulous years, the Festival Gala will feature cuisine from more than 30 of the Valley’s local culinary stars and wines from more than 50 of Napa Valley’s esteemed vintners and wineries. Many of the festival’s attending filmmakers and celebrity guests are expected to attend.


Day passes for the festival start at $125, and festival passes start at $295. Be warned though, if all you have is a day pass, you are given the lowest priority for seating and you have to arrive extra early to try to get a seat. If you purchase the pass plus ($645) or the patron pass ($2,500+), you will be given seating priority.

Special events like the festival gala are an additional cost; and the winemaker dinners are only for patron pass holders, sponsors, media, filmmakers and other invited guests.

Napa Valley FIlm Festival Winemaker Dinners Image: NVFF
Napa Valley FIlm Festival Winemaker Dinners
Image: NVFF


Four excellent resources to help plan your trip are:

– Napa Valley Film Festival website

– Downtown Napa website



Like other destination festivals, they offer full-experience passes at an array of prices, from seriously affordable to seriously indulgent; plus midweek and day passes to get just a taste (or a big bite) of the NVFF experience. When space is available, they also offer individual tickets to select special events and programs. What they don’t offer are advance tickets to individual film screenings. Go to the Napa Valley Film Festival website to see all pass options.

Read more of Sherrie’s work in Wine Country Weekly and at Out And About San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook for even more inside scoop.

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