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Napa Valley Film Festival Inaugural Fest Announces Juries and Prizes

by Sydney Levine
September 26, 2011 9:00 AM
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Cinetic Media’s John Sloss will serve as President of the Jury for Inaugural Festival, November 9-13, 2011

Brenda and Marc Lhormer, producers of the 2008 Sundance hit movie Bottle Shock and founders of the Napa Valley Film Festival, have announced the composition of the Jury for their inaugural Festival, scheduled November 9 – 13, 2011.

Heading the Jury is John Sloss, founder of the entertainment and media advisory firm Cinetic Media, Cinetic Rights Management, and the entertainment law firm Sloss Eckhouse LawCo LLP. Sloss recently co-founded Producers Distribution Agency, distributor of Exit through the Gift Shop and Senna.

The Narrative Features Jury will determine two award-winners: The Best Narrative Feature with a $10,000 cash prize presented by Meadowood Napa Valley as well as the Peak Performance Award for Acting in a Narrative Feature, with a $1,000 cash prize presented by Mount Veeder Appellation Wineries. The Narrative Features Jurors are:

Keith Addis – Addis is the co-founder of Industry Entertainment, one of the first entertainment firms to combine top-notch talent management and first-rate film and television production. Producing credits for Industry Entertainment include The Player, Quills and Requiem for a Dream.

Rob Morrow – Morrow is a critically acclaimed actor, writer, and director who recently starred in several major television series, including Northern Exposure, The Whole Truth, Numb3rs. Rob can currently be seen on Entourage. On the big screen he will soon star in the indie film The Good Doctor opposite Orlando Bloom. Morrow's other film credits include: The Bucket List, The Emperor’s Club, Quiz Show, The Guru, Last Dance and Into My Heart.

Claudia Puig – Puig has worked as USA Today’s film critic since 2001. As a regular critic for National Public Radio’s Film Week, her opinions have been featured on various radio and television programs around the country. Puig’s career began in 1986 at the Los Angeles Times.

Kirk Honeycutt – Honeycutt is the international film critic for the magazine and web site of The Hollywood Reporter. Honeycutt reviews films from the outlet’s home office in Los Angeles and at major international film festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Berlin and Toronto. He has been a member of the prestigious Los Angeles Film Critics Association for over 35 years.

Peter Belsito – Belsito, a New York City native, was a founding member of Newsreel, a radical anti-war student filmmaking collective; Independent Feature Project (IFP) in New York City and Los Angeles (now FIND); Chicano Cinema Coalition; and FILM FINDERS. Today he is a guest blogger on SydneysBuzz, featured on Indiewire.com, covering the international independent film business.

The Documentary Jury will determine two award-winners: the Best Documentary Feature as well as the Best Documentary Short Subject. The Documentary Jurors are:

Amy Dotson – Dotson is the Deputy Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest not-for-profit membership and advocacy organization for independent filmmakers. Her responsibilities include IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs, Independent Film Week, Script to Screen and Filmmaker Conferences. Dotson also produces independent features and documentaries.

Pat Saperstein – Saperstein is an associate editor at Variety, where she coordinates festival coverage and daily news. She has served on juries at several festivals and has spoke on numerous panels sharing her wisdom and experiences on topics ranging from independent filmmaking, financing and distribution to digital filmmaking.

Lisa Truitt – Truitt is the President of National Geographic Films. A Bay Area native and graduate of Stanford University, Truitt has had a lifelong love affair for history and the great outdoors. She has overseen such projects as Mysteries of Egypt, Lewis and Clark: The Great Journey West, Roar: Lions of the Kalahari, and Sea Monster: A Prehistoric Adventure.

The Shorts Jury will determine the award-winner for Best Short Film. The Shorts Jurors are:

Freddy Rodriguez – Rodriguez, a Chicago native, was cast in his first two films – A Walk in the Clouds and the cult classic Dead Presidents – directly after high school. He also starred in the award-winning HBO television series Six Feet Under. Rodriguez’ love for wine country was reinforced when he starred alongside Chris Pine, Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman in Bottle Shock.

Rob Minkoff – Minkoff is an accomplished director with a special talent for feature-length animated films (The Lion King, Stuart Little and Stuart Little 2), action adventures (The Forbidden Kingdom) as well as family fun (The Haunted Mansion). Minkoff is currently in pre-production for a new film, Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

Scott Wolf – Wolf, a Boston native, is an accomplished actor with over 20 years of credits in television (Party of Five, Spin City, Everwood), independent and studio films (Go, Love Thy Neighbor, Emmett’s Mark) as well as on stage (American Buffalo, True West, Mother Courage). Wolf is currently starring in the hit ABC series V.

The Festival’s full program will be announced October 1, 2011. The anticipated lineup of 75 films will include U.S. Dramatic and Documentary Feature Competitions, World Cinema, Special Screenings and Premieres, and Narrative Shorts and Documentary Short Subjects. Both Audience and Juried Awards will be presented.

“We are so pleased with the passion, experience and diversity of our jury members and look forward to a fascinating and entertaining festival in one of the most beautiful and convivial destinations imaginable,” said Brenda Lhormer, co-founder and co-director of the Napa Valley Film Festival. “We believe the timing of this festival, in the midst of the awards season, makes it a great opportunity for high-profile movies as well as smaller films that need the nurturing of film festival audiences.”

The Festival will be held simultaneously in Napa Valley's picturesque communities of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, with screening and hospitality venues clustered in four walk-able festival villages. The five day "extended weekend" will feature new independent films; studio sneak previews; conversations with attending directors, actors, producers and writers; Opening and Closing Night premieres and gala festivities; Tribute and Awards Programs; wine-tasting pavilions; culinary demonstrations; and VIP receptions and dinners with Napa Valley's own celebrity chefs and winemakers.

To demonstrate how compelling a mid-Fall Napa Valley Film Festival can be, the Lhormers produced a six film mini-festival as the Napa Valley Launch Celebration in November 2010 that included two low-budget indies, Lifted and The Happy Poet; Tom Shadyac’s journey of self-discovery, I AM; Lionsgate’s Rabbit Hole; and The Weinstein Company’s Blue Valentine and The King’s Speech. The weekend included opening and closing night VIP receptions and private dinners with the visiting filmmakers, as well as a 400-person Saturday night gala. Over 2000 attendees enjoyed this taste of bigger things to come, including media representatives from throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

“I’m thrilled to see a film festival of this caliber appear in Napa Valley”, said Judith Ehrlich, Oscar-nominated director of The Most Dangerous Man in America, who attended the November 2010 Launch Celebration. “Brenda and Marc have impeccable taste and are the kinds of hosts that make a festival experience shine for everyone who participates.”

Participation opportunities and passes for the inaugural NVFF are available now. Please visit www.napavalleyfilmfest.org for full details.
About the Napa Valley Film Festival
The Napa Valley Film Festival is produced by Cinema Napa Valley, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in Napa, California. The festival's co-creators – and Cinema Napa Valley co-chairs – are Brenda and Marc Lhormer, producers and distributors of the feature film Bottle Shock about the historic upset victory by Napa Valley wines over the French at the famous 1976 wine-tasting competition in Paris. Bottle Shock premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival before going on to international theatrical distribution. The husband-and-wife team also ran the successful Sonoma Valley Film Festival from 2001 through 2008. In addition to producing the annual film festival, Cinema Napa Valley presents special film programs throughout the year and provides support to student filmmaking programs in Napa Valley schools. NVFF also supports the global humanitarian organization Roots Of Peace that de-mines agricultural land in war torn countries and plants vineyards in the newly safe soil. To learn more, visit www.napavalleyfilmfest.org and follow www.facebook.com/NapaValleyFilmFestival. http://www.twitter.com/napafilmfest
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Media contact: Dana Pelfini or Thea Bakkar at Glodow Nead Communications, (415) 394-6500 or Dana@GlodowNead.com

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