'Station Agent' to open, 'Barbarian Invasions' to close

Tributes to thesps Lili Taylor and Peter Coyote and Canadian director Denys Arcand will spark the 26th Mill Valley Film Festival, which unspools Oct. 2-12 at Marin County venues.

Official opening night will feature director Tom McCarthy presenting his Sundance award-winner and upcoming Miramax release “The Station Agent”; helmer Carl Franklin, producer Jesse B’Franklin and female lead Sanaa Lathan introducing their new Denzel Washington vehicle “Out of Time”; and Taylor repping the ensemble of female luminaries inhabiting John Sayles’ latest drama, “Casa de los Babys.”

Closing selection will be “The Barbarian Invasions,” Arcand’s Cannes and Toronto Fest prize-winning sequel to his 1986 breakthrough feature “The Decline of the American Empire.” Helmer will attend screening as well as a Filmmakers Tribute fete as guest-of-honor on Oct. 11. Mid-fest “Centerpiece” selection is Campbell Scott’s latest directorial effort “Off the Map,” with Joan Allen; co-star Sam Elliott is expected as guest for Oct. 10 event.

Taylor’s Oct. 4 trib will feature an onstage interview, plus showing of “A Slipping Down Life,” Toni Kalem’s underseen 1999 adaptation of an Anne Tyler story.Longtime Marin resident Coyote will get his own turn on the hot seat Oct. 9. He’ll also be the narrator for “Dreaming of Tibet,” an hourlong U.S.-Nepal docu debuting at the fest.

World preem features on tap lean heavily toward U.S. docus and Amerindie features. Among latter are David Hickson’s South African co-production “Beat the Drum,” James Redford’s 1950s-set family drama “Spin” (with thesps Stanley Tucci and Ruben Blades expected to attend), Hurt McDermott’s twisty thriller “Nightingale in a Music Box” and Juan Gerard’s Harvey Keitel topliner “Dreaming of Julia.” Among nonfiction premieres are music doc “Calypso Dreams” and “Afghanistan Unveiled.”

Making their first public U.S. appearances are Neil Young’s lip-synch rock musical “Greendale,” Ireland/South Africa/U.K. concert flick “Sophiatown,” Gwyneth Paltrow starrer “Sylvia,” Indian drama “Guardian Spirit of the House” and several international kidpics.

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