‘Amelie’ opens Mill Valley

No major cancellations for October film fest

MILL VALLEY — Despite having its Sept. 11 press conference canceled — with multinational co-prod “No Man’s Land,” a war satire, coincidentally slated as first previewed feature — the 24th annual Mill Valley Film Festival will otherwise unspool on schedule Oct. 4-14.

Fest reps report no significant cancellation of events or guest appearances as yet in wake of the current global crises.

Program gets off to an upbeat start on Oct. 4 with three features: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Gallic smash “Amelie,” Lone Scherfig’s Danish Dogma seriocomedy “Italian for Beginners” (like “Amelie,” also a Miramax pickup Stateside) and Ismail Merchant’s Trinidad-set, U.S.-produced adaptation of V.S. Naipaul’s novel “The Mystic Masseur.” Merchant is expected to attend the fest.

Official closing duo on Oct. 14 are the Coen brothers’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and Aussie helmer Ray Lawrence’s recent Toronto closer “Lantana,” with pic’s stars Anthony LaPaglia and Barbara Hershey expected to attend.

Digital emphasis

In between, Mill Valley will sport its usual diverse array of international titles, with special emphasis once again on digital and children’s programming.

Fest’s increasing penchant for offbeat celebrity tributes is in particularly fine fettle this year.

Among those honored will be thesps William H. Macy (Oct. 9, repping his Toronto-bowed “Focus”), Malcolm McDowell (Oct. 11, with Russian/U.K. historical drama “Assassin of the Tsar” and Brit meller “Gangster No. 1” screening within a career sidebar) and Sissy Spacek (Oct. 13, promoting Todd Field’s Sundance prizewinner “In the Bedroom”).

There’s also a special evening celebrating Jonathan Winters (Oct. 10), and another on Oct. 7 toasting songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, whose tracks include “The Way We Were” and the “Yentl” score.

Among features world-preeming here are Stephan Ruzowitsky’s World War II-era drag comedy “All the Queen’s Men,” toplining Matt LeBlanc and Eddie Izzard; Mark J. Gordon’s Kiwi family pic “Her Majesty”; and local prods from Erica Jordan (“In the Wake”), Christopher Brown (“Making Metamorphosis”), Dean Hyers (“Bill’s Gun Shop”) and prolific fest regular Rob Nilsson (“Scheme C6”).

Expected to tubthump their latest pics are actor Robert Carlyle (“To End All Wars,” “There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble”), docu subject Ram Dass (“Ram Dass: Fierce Grace”), “Pinero” star Benjamin Bratt, thesp-helmer Christine Lahti (“My First Mister”) and Aussie writer-director Robert Connolly (“The Bank”).

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