Napa Valley Film Festival founder Marc Lhormer has but one word for the third annual film fest held in the valley last week — “glorious.”
Starting with “the incredible weather, it was fantastic at every possible level,” Lhormer said earlier in the week when asked to recap this year’s weeklong event.
“We had a full week this year, not just the usual five days. We began with an inspiring vets program on Veterans Day and that set the tone for the whole week.”
In addition to nine studio-affiliated films — including Oscar contenders like “August: Osage County,” “Nebraska” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” — Lhormer pointed out that new efforts that included a sneak preview night and an animated film competition proved popular with festivalgoers.
“I’d have been happy if 30 people had shown up for our animated film experiment,” he continued. “But we sold out the Cadillac Theater of 250 seats. ... I never dreamed that would be so well received.”
Lhormer estimates attendance at the 2013 Napa Valley Film Festival was up by 15 to 20 percent, “maybe more, but I want to be conservative. Attendance was definitely up, especially in the Napa venues. We had very good crowds at all Napa Valley Opera House screenings. Jarvis Conservatory turned people away and the Sony Lounge was always full. Our new venue this year, at Farmstead in St. Helena, is tiny ... maybe 80 seats. Last Saturday afternoon, they turned about 100 people away. No big stars, just a narrative film.
“We just have a lot of people — local residents and valley visitors — who want to see great films and meet the filmmakers. Of the nine studio-affiliated films, we had representatives — either actors or directors — from seven of them to meet audiences. Based on what we saw and heard, it was a very comfortable experience for everyone.
“It was neat to have young people here who are putting everything on a credit card to make the film of their dreams ... and then have (renowned musician) Dave Grohl show up and hang out. Our new lifestyle pavilion was buzzing every day and the gala at (the former Copia site) was very well received.”
The fourth annual Napa Valley Film Festival will take place Nov. 12-16, 2014, Lhormer said. “Veterans Day is Nov. 11 so we’ll team up again with Lincoln Theater for a special vets program and repeat a sneak preview program that night ... it will be a full six days.”
Passes for next year’s festival are now on sale, with festival officials pointing out not only will they make nice holiday gifts but also save purchasers money if snapped up in presale by the end of December.
The Hollywood community turned out in full force at Napa’s Uptown Theatre on Sunday night for the Napa Valley Film Festival’s awards ceremony and late-night wrap party.
Films screened at this year’s festival receiving awards are as follows:
Jury Awards for Narrative Features
Best Screenplay — “The Girl on the Train,” directed by Larry Brand
Best Ensemble Cast — “The Bounceback,” starring Zach Cregger, Sara Paxton, Ashley Bell and Michael Stahl-David, and directed by Bryan Poyser
Best Narrative Feature — “Hank and Asha,” directed by James E. Duff
Jury Awards for Narrative Short Films
Best Narrative Short — “King of Norway,” directed by Sylvia Sether
Honorable Mention — “The Romantics,” directed by Ryan Daniel Dobson
Honorable Mention — “The Listing Agent,” directed by Matthew Helfgott and Jared Hillman
Jury Awards for Documentary Films
Best Short Documentary — “Sky Burial,” directed by Tad Fettig
Best Feature Documentary — “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth,” directed by Pratibha Parmar
Jury Awards for Animated Shorts
Best Animated Short — “Sleight of Hand,” directed by Michael Cusack
Honorable Mention — “The Right Place,” directed by Jamie Gallant
Honorable Mention — “Horsepower,” directed by Olivia Lai Shetler
Special Jury Award for Best Cinematography
“My Brother Jack,” cinematography by Kerim Duran and directed by Stephen Dest
Special Recognition Prize for the Most Thought-Provoking Film
“The Last White Knight,” directed by Paul Saltzman
Jury Award for SONY 4K Film Challenge (5 filmmakers were given Sony equipment and 50 hours to make a short in the valley)
“Weapons,” directed by Ryan Daniel Dobson
Favorite Narrative Feature — “The Little Tin Man,” directed by Matthew Perkins
Favorite Documentary Feature — “Finding Hillywood,” directed by Leah Warshawski
Favorite Documentary Short — “Make Haste Slowly: The Kikkoman Creed,” directed by Lucy Walker
Favorite Lounge Feature — “Starring Adam West,” directed by James Tooley
Favorite Lounge Short — “The Romantics,” directed by Ryan Daniel Dobson
Favorite Animated Short — “Horsepower,” directed by Olivia Lai Shetler
Favorite Actor — Andrew Pastides (who played Hank in “Hank and Asha”)
Favorite Actress — Mahira Kakkar (who played Asha in “Hank and Asha”)
Favorite Narrative Short — “The Listing Agent,” directed by Matthew Helfgott and Jared Hillman