36th MVFF Filmmakers
Photo by Pad 36th MVFF Filmmakers

The 36th Mill Valley Film Festival had over 125 screenings, over 75 directors in attendance, and over 1600 California Film Institute members have attended films. It’s been a busy 8 days and I’m not counting on any sleep until Monday.

The past few nights have included some serious high profile talent: Jared Leto came with Dallas Buyers Club's US premiere. For his first acting role in five years, he showed no rust. The audience must have been undoubtedly different than a Thirty Seconds to Mars concert with an arena filled with screaming teens. Few ticket holders knew him from his his raw performance in Requiem for a Dream and even fewer remembered him as dreamy Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life (I almost got out my Angela Chase costume from last year's Halloween but thought it might clash with my staff badge). Unfortunately I wasn't able to see the film but neither was Leto who revealed to the audience in the Q&A that he had still not seen Dallas Buyers Club and wasn't planning to anytime soon.

MVFF Mill Valley ASCAP Music Cafe
Photo by Trisha Leeper MVFF Mill Valley ASCAP Music Cafe

Following the screening of his film 12 Years A Slave (which just won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival), director Steve McQueen sat down this morning with colleagues J.C. Chandor (All is Lost), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace), and John Wells (August: Osage County) for " Variety Focus on Director's Panel ," or, my favorite hour and a half of the festival. The five directors spoke with moderator Peter Caranicas from Variety about their recent projects and the process of working with distributors and actors. The five had great energy and honesty. Coogler told us how he wore a tie and backpack to his initial meeting with the film's producer Forrest Whitaker and Scott Cooper gave a gracious shout out to legendary independent filmmaker Rob Nilsson who was in the audience. For me, I enjoyed the panels comments on scoring a film whether it was the challenges of working with composers or the power of an absence of music in film to let the sound design do the magic.

With a great morning behind me, I'm excited to take on the last two days of the festival. Maybe I'll even be able to fit in a movie!


Dallas Buyers Club

12 Years a Slave