'Neverland,' 'Huckabees' to open; 'Heroes' to close

MILL VALLEY, Calif. — A clutch of upcoming prestige releases, salutes to male helmers and female thesps highlight the Mill Valley Film Festival’s 27th edition, unspooling in various Marin County locations Oct. 7-17.

Fest commences Oct. 7 with dual opening-nighters “Finding Neverland” and “I Heart Huckabees.” Former’s director Marc Forster (“Monster’s Ball”) and cast member Radha Mitchell (also currently Woody Allen’s twinned “Melinda and Melinda”) will attend, joined by Dustin Hoffman, who appears in both features.

Closing night offers a double punch in Dan Harris’ “Imaginary Heroes,” toplining Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels, plus Antoine Fuqua’s acclaimed docu “Lightning in a Bottle.”

In between, celebrity guest list is led by a quartet of tributes. Mike Leigh brings period drama “Vera Drake” along with its star Imelda Staunton for an on-stage interview Oct. 12. On Oct. 8, thesp Laura Linney will rep two new releases, Bill Condon’s biopic “Kinsey” and Dylan Kidd’s May-December romance “P.S.”

In a more retrospective vein, Gena Rowlands will discuss her career on Oct. 14 before screening of “Gloria,” offbeat 1980 crime pic written and directed by late husband John Cassavetes.

Oct. 11 brings salute to famed longtime documentarian Albert Maysles, whose cult fave “Grey Gardens” (1975) will be shown; he’ll also teach a master class for aspiring local filmmakers.

Other notable guests expected include Robert Carradine, presenting newly reconstructed 159-minute cut of Sam Fuller’s truncated 1980 WW2 epic “The Big Red One” in which he starred; Peter Riegert, taking a starring role both before and behind camera for first time in directorial debut “King of the Corner.”

Fest program roams the globe with particular emphasis on digitally-shot features, children’s titles, and docus skewed toward political activism and music.

Bridging the latter duo will be an archival screening of David Lemieux’s 1977 concert flick “The Grateful Dead Movie,” and presentation of biotech scrutiny “The Future of Food,” directed by Jerry Garcia’s widow Deborah Koons Garcia.

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