SAN FRANCISCO — Though perhaps best known as an early champion of Amerindie product, the Mill Valley Film Festival this year is going Anglophile — saluting Brit thesps Helena Bonham Carter and Derek Jacobi with in-person tributes.
The Oscar-nominated actress will appear Oct. 2 to present “Theory of Flight,” a contemporary drama pairing her on-screen with off-screen inamorato Kenneth Branagh. Sir Derek will follow Oct. 5 with screening of his fest-acclaimed turn as painter Francis Bacon in John Maybury’s “Love Is The Devil.”
Aside from that spate of U.K. glamour (and several other Brit titles, including Miramax’s Michael Caine/Jane Horrocks “Little Voice,” and Fox Searchlight’s Irish pickup “Waking Ned Devine”), Mill Valley’s 21st annum spans the globe as usual — with, as usual, a heavy concentration of U.S. indie features. Event runs Oct. 1-11 at various Marin County locations.
Many world preems
This year’s fest sports an unusually high number of world preems, from India (“Long Live Life”) and Iran (“Maternal Love”) as well as home turf (“Frank Finds Out,” “Return With Honor,” “Blind Light,” “Nothing But the Truth,” “Taxi Dancer,” “Where’s Marlowe?”). North American bows are U.S. Toni Collette-headlining drama “The Boys” and Brazilian helmer Bruno Barreto’s Stateside crime meller “One Tough Cop.”
Opening night feature is former U.S. Poet Laureate turned directorial debutante Maya Angelou’s contempo family saga “Down in the Delta,” with Wesley Snipes and Alfre Woodward toplining. Official closer is another helming bow, from scenarist (“Big,” “Dave”) Gary Ross, the New Line release “Pleasantville” billed as a “modern fairy tale,” with Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels and Reese Witherspoon.
Also of note
Other notable feature selections include Montreal Grand Prix winner Majid Majidi’s Iranian “Children of Heaven,” Richard LaGravenese’s Danny DeVito/Queen Latifah/Holly Hunter starrer “Living Out Loud,” Lions Gates’ Sundance-acclaimed Hollywood semifictional “Gods and Monsters,” Shoshei Imamura’s Nippon “The Eel,” Croatian hit “How the War Started in My Country,” and a special screening of Valentino’s 1922 vehicle “Moran of the Lady Letty,” which was shot in Tiburon and around the S.F. Bay. Late sked add was vet German helmer Dorris Dorrie’s new “Am I Beautiful?”
The usual industry-panel seminars, New Media/Videofest events and Children’s FilmFest will provide sidebars. Latter entity has expanded greatly in its fourth year, not just quantity-wise but also in now aiming for age demographics as low as the nursery school.
It’s worth noting that while MVFF has always had annual promo trailers clever enough to avoid the usual audience burnout, this year’s is a real pip: a delightfully ludicrous cartoon lounge-act production number (“Take Me Away To Mill Valley”) sung by ersatz Steve & Eydie types, created by ad agency Scheyer/SF, animated by Larkspur’s Six Foot Prods.