12:12am | November 5, 2011

The first annual Napa Valley Film Festival is not to be missed!

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[image title="Napa Valley film Festival" link="http://napavalleyfilmfest.org/" align="center" shadow="perspective-2"]http://www.michaelchiarello.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Look-Whos-Coming3.jpg[/image]
While I’m running a restaurant or filming Next Iron Chef, my wife Eileen takes on other interesting work in our community. She’s done a lot for Connolly Ranch, which teaches kids about farming, food, and sustainability. She’s also a board member for the new Napa Valley Film Festival, which premieres November 9 -13, 2011 with over 100 films and fabulous wine and food events. If you love film, the art of storytelling, and the Napa Valley, this festival was created for you.

What makes me most proud of this year’s festival is how well it connects to Napa’s history and culture, and how it will create interesting dialogue on very timely topics. Documentary filmmaker Paul Saltzman is screening his film Prom Night in Mississippi, and hosting student discussions about racial segregation at Napa Valley schools. My vintner-friend Oscar Renteria had a vision for a Latin film track; thanks to the Napa Valley Mexican American Vintners Association his vision becomes a reality with some wonderful films, including Forgotten Eagles, about a group of volunteer Mexican pilots who flew with the U.S. Air Force during WWII. This film is part of a free program on 11.11.11, Veteran’s Day, at the Lincoln Theater at the Yountville Veterans Home. It begins with a “toast to peace” at 11:11am, and includes two other documentary programs. Other powerful programs continue on Saturday with international organization Roots of Peace, where they will screen three films and host a panel discussion, also at the Lincoln Theater. Click here for more.

A special point of pride to me is the film La Estancia, a powerful documentary about five migrant farm-working families, because the filmmaking team is part of my family here at Bottega Restaurant. I am grateful to all the artists who create meaningful and entertaining films, and to the very hard-working team who made this Inaugural Napa Valley Film festival happen! Now sit back in an old Barrel Room, grab some parmesan-truffle popcorn and a glass of Old Vine Zin, and enjoy the show. — Michael

More details on the Napa Valley Film Festival.

Saturday’s Film Festival Tributes, which begin at 6 p.m. in Yountville’s Lincoln Theater, honors Jeffrey Wright (Emmy and Golden Globe winner for “Angels in America”) with a humanitarian award for his work to help rebuild a war-torn Sierra Leon during an evening hosted by my friend Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood.” That evening also spotlights actress Judy Greer (“The Descendants”); as well as a talk with “Rising Star” Felicity Jones, who can be seen in the festival film “Like Crazy.” Adrian Grenier (“Entourage”) will be speaking in the social media hub of the Buick Tweet House in Napa at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11. Actor/comedian Dane Cook will host a Q&A at 4 p.m. Saturday, following the screening of his movie “Answers to Nothing,” and Greer, Grenier and Eliza Dushku (“Bottle Shock”) will particpate in Actors in Conversation panel at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Screenings will be in St. Helena, Napa, Calistoga, and Yountville. Sneak peeks of major releases including Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, Clooney’s The Descendants, and Jennifer Garner’s Butter.

Purchasing a Festival Pass or Pass Plus makes it easy to get in to the films you most want to see. Go to http://www.napavalleyfilmfest.org and use discount code FESTPASS or PASSPLUS or use them at the Napa Valley Film Festival ticket center for significant savings just for Napa Valley partners and their fans.

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