SAN RAFAEL – Bay Area cinephiles will have a host of options in the next ten days as the 45th Mill Valley Film Festival kicks off Thursday, running through Oct. 16.
The Mill Valley Film Festival is a magnet for celebrities and upcoming Oscar contenders. But most of all it's an expansive banquet filled with delicious indie gems, 145 temptations within this year's slate. While most of the venues are in Marin County, the festival has a broad reach across the region, presenting selections at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive as well as the Roxie and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco's Mission District. More details and a full schedule are available on the Mill Valley Film Festival website.
The fest's opens Thursday evening with the star-studded screening of "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" that will have director Rian Johnson, actors Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Kathryn Hahn in attendance. It concludes with another Netflix release, the fact-based thriller "The Good Nurse," with actor Eddie Redmayne, director Tobias Lindholm and former UC-Berkeley student and football player Nnamdi Asomugha slated to appear.
There are a number Bay Area-centric features and documentaries being featured.
Few writers can so poetically and eloquently describe their personal culinary adventures with the beauty of the late M.F.K. Fisher. In "The Art of Eating: The Life of M.F.K. Fisher," San Francisco director Gregory Bezat sprinkles passages from Fisher's writing into a lovely broth that simmers with observations from top chefs Alice Waters, Jacques Pepin, Ruth Reichl and many others. (7 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Smith Rafael; 2 p.m., Oct. 13 at the Sequoia in Mill Valley)
Grammy-award-winning blues sensation and Oakland resident Xavier Dephrepaulezz, best known as Fantastic Negrito, works on an upcoming record and talks with great candor -- as do others who know him best -- about his traumatic childhood and his music career that went into directions he never anticipated. Oakland's Yvan Iturriaga and Francisco Nunez Capriles co-direct "Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?" (7 p.m. Oct. 15 at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; 3 p.m. Oct. 16, Lark Theater)
In director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's informative and important documentary "The Grab," a Bay Area journalist unearths one of the most daunting stories he's ever covered. He and others at the Emeryville-based nonprofit The Center for Investigative Reporting take a seven-year deep dive into a shattering global problem: the snatching of land, food and water from various countries and the role of secretive organizations and corporations. "The Grab" follows reporter Nathan Halverson as he launches an investigation into one story that snowballs into yet another and another. It's a terrific documentary that demands to be seen. It also celebrates investigative, vetted and responsible journalism. (6 p.m.; Oct. 7 and 1 p.m. Oct. 10, the Sequoia)
While it is relatively short (not even clocking in at one hour), Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman's look at the uproar about a mural over at San Francisco's George Washington High School that's been up since 1936 covers a debate that sparked global interest. While "Town Destroyer" doesn't take sides and does a fine job of covering both opinions - those that say the mural is historical and we need to learn from it and others who say it triggers more trauma and is a stain on the school. You can hear more in a panel discussion at the 8 p.m. Oct. 8 screening at the Sequoia. (Also screens at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Smith Rafael and 1:45 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Roxie in San Francisco.)
Prolific Berkeley filmmaker Rob Nilsson's "Faultline" wraps up his fictional "Nomad Trilogy" on the odyssey of the unhoused with this world premiere that centers on a missing rancher. (7:30 p.m., Oct. 11 Smith Rafael)
For a bit of inspiration - and who can't use a gallon of that right now? - beeline to Dawn Mikkelsen and Keri Pickett's documentary "Finding Her Beat," a crowd pleaser about female performers taking center stage in Taiko drumming. It's not just a rousing event but an historic occasion. San Jose Taiko drummers P.J. Hirabayashi and Yurika Chiba appear in the film. (noon, Oct. 9 at the Sequoia and 11 a.m. Oct. 11 at the Sequoia; also available to stream starting Thursday)
The festival is always noted for its celebration of Bay Area musical artists, and Berkeley filmmaker Kathryn Golden shines a spotlight on not only the performances and life of Grammy-nominated percussionist and San Francisco native John Santos, but his dedication to activism. "Santos - Skin to Skin" screens at 5:15 p.m., Oct. 8 at the Sequoia; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at BAMPFA and 4 p.m., Oct. 16 at the Roxie; it'll also be available to stream)
for more features.