Scheduled to take place in both Napa and Sonoma over a nine-day period this month, the 23rd annual Wine Country Film Festival is an assortment of films, special presentations, galas under the stars and small events that reflect the event's mission to bring people together for enlightened dialogue and cultural exchange.
This year's festival kicks off in select venues in Sonoma Valley Thursday where it continues through Sunday and then settles into downtown Napa Sept. 24-27.
The festival's Napa program gets underway Sept. 24, at the festival's open air venue at Napa Valley Expo with the presentation of Warner Brothers' Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey.
Written and directed by Gervais, Invention of Lying is a romantic comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain.
The Festival will wrap with a Closing Night Gala presentation Sept. 27 also at the open air venue of Sideways, the Japanese remake of U.S. hit film of the same name.
Filmed on location at Frog's Leap Winery, Enoteca Wine Shop, Cal-Mart, Domaine Chandon, Newton Winery and Beringer Vineyards, among other well-known Napa locations, Sideways will have its world premiere in Napa. A number of wineries featured in the movie will be on hand to offer tastes of their wines.
Festival guests include Vilmos Zsigmond, the Hungarian cinematographer best known for films focusing on freedom, escape and capture, such as The Black Dahlia, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Deer Hunter, Deliverance and Scarecrow.
Zsigmond will receive the 2009 Wine Country Film Festival award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography on Sept. 26, followed by the screening of the award-winning documentary, No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos. Zsigmond will teach a Master Class on Cinematography Sept. 27.
This year's festival will also present An Evening with Theresa Russell, honoring her acting career, followed by the special presentation of 16 to Life.
Russell will take the stage for an in-depth discussion about acting and a question-and-answer session with the audience. This special event takes place at Hatt Hall at Napa River Inn on Sept. 27.
Wine Country Film Festival's popular Paseo de Espana will take place at Napa Valley Expo Sept. 26, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The program includes films from Spain, a tasting of food and wine from Spain throughout the day and a paella class at 2 p.m.
Every film in the program represents a different region of Spain.
Closing the festival's third annual Paseo is the Spanish feature Pradolongo by Ignacio Vilar, about a group of farmers farming organically on a hillside who are challenged by a slate exporting company competing for the land.
The festival also features the return of Eco Cinema, a series that began in the 1990s, with films that include Ingredients, What's on Your Plate?, Sea of Change and Pirate for the Sea. The beneficiary of this program is the edible garden at Napa's Valley Oak High School.
The film Ingredients which explores the healthy food movement will be introduced by Maria Cisneros, Valley Oak High School principal, Sept. 27 at Merlot Hall, Napa Valley Expo, at 12:30 p.m.
Films in the Napa portion of the festival will be screened at four venues Hatt Hall at Napa River Inn and Grand Cru Room at CuvГ©e Napa, plus Merlot Hall and outdoors at Napa Valley Expo.
вЂў Invention of Lying starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey. A comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain. 6:30 p.m., cooking demonstration with Chef Marco of Gaia Restaurant; 7:30 p.m. live performance by One World Band; 8 p.m film. $12.50 general/$10 senior/student
вЂў Black Dog Barking is about two best friends caught up in the unsavory world of dirty business in Istanbul. Sept. 25, 8 p.m. Grand Cru Room, CuvГ©e Napa; $10
вЂў No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos
Vilmos Zsigmond and Laszlo Kovacs revolutionized cinematography with such films as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and The Black Dahlia. With Oscar-winning Vilmos Zsigmond in person. Sept. 26, 3:45 p.m. Grand Cru Room, CuvГ©e Napa; $10
вЂў South of the Moon, an epic coming-of-age story about the bond that deepens between a boy and his uncle with director Antonio DiVerdis in person. DiVerdis composed and sang all the songs in the movie. Sept. 26, 6 p.m. Grand Cru Room, CuvГ©e Napa; $10
вЂў America's Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition. In 1920, National Prohibition passed with the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. This documentary tells the story of how entrepreneurial leaders overcame the constitutional barriers of this era and includes interviews with Ernest Gallo, Robert Mondavi and Brother Timothy. Join director Carla De Luca Worfolk for a wine tasting reception before the film's screening and post-film discussion. Sept. 26, Reception 6 p.m.; film 7 p.m., Merlot Hall, Napa Valley Expo, 575 Third St., Napa. $25
вЂў Ingredients . This documentary explores the workings of sustainable food systems in the United States and shows how community support of local agriculture can revitalize economies and health. Join the filmmakers, local farmers and a teacher from Valley Oak High School's edible garden program for a tasting of healthy food after the film. Sept. 27, 12:30 p.m. Merlot Hall, Napa Valley Expo. $10/$8 students
вЂў Egon and Donce animated family film about an amateur scientist and his meddling cat who leave their tiny planet in search of Planet Earth. Sept. 27, 2:30 p.m. Merlot Hall, Napa Valley Expo; admission free.
вЂў 16 to Life Kate is surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, including fellow ice cream shop workers; her guy friend Rene; her best friend Darby; the sexually jaded Russian immigrant, Tatiana; her boss and disillusioned hippie Louise and a host of customers, including Kate's potential first-kiss material. Sept. 27, 4 p.m. Merlot Hall, Napa Valley Expo, $10
вЂў Billboard Bruce Barrett asks, in the opening line of his film, When you think about the Holy Land, do you think about religion or people? With historical footage, and commentary by former Israeli and Palestinian soldiers, the film condenses the essentials of an ancient conflict and gives it faces and voices that unite to create a historical billboard. Sept. 27, 1 p.m. Hatt Hall, Napa River Inn, $10.
вЂў Pirate for the Sea This film showcases Paul Watson's lifelong crusade to enforce international law and protect marine wildlife. Sept. 27, 3:30 p.m. Hatt Hall, Napa River Inn, $10.
вЂў Sideways (Japanese version) A story of two old friends on a journey to rediscover their friendship, life and themselves in a re-imagination of the 2005 Academy Award-winning film. Sept. 27, reception 6:30 p.m.; film 8 p.m. Napa Valley Expo; $22.50 advance /$25 at the door. A ticket includes seven tasting tokens.
For complete film schedule, log onto www.winecountryfilmfest.com.
Tickets will be available online at www.winecountryfilmfest.com or by phone at 935-3456 or at the venue day of show. Program is subject to change. There are no refunds.