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Mill Valley Film Festival Wraps Its Oscar-Track Film Run

Photo of Anne Thompson and Maggie Lange By Anne Thompson and Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood October 16, 2012 at 2:41PM

The Mill Valley Film Festival has concluded its 11-day pursuit of Bay Area Academy members. The festival began with the US premiere of "Silver Linings Playbook," with director David O. Russell and star Bradley Cooper appearing for a Q& A; the film won yet another Audience Award, as did closer "Life of Pi," with Ang Lee on hand.
'Life of Pi'
'Life of Pi'

One way that regional film festivals enhance their line-ups is by touting their impact on the awards race. For example, the Bay Area's venerable Mill Valley Film Festival, which just concluded an 11-day run, boasts that it has "cemented its place as the West Coast's premiere launching pad for the awards season."  Aspen, Hawaii, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs are other key fests that piggy-back on awards season effectively as attention-grabbers for local Academy voters.

The lucky attendees at this year's California Film Institute's MVFF in San Rafael nabbed early looks at several Oscar-track films for 2012. The festival opened with the US premiere of "Silver Linings Playbook," with director David O. Russell and star Bradley Cooper appearing for a Q & A; the film took home yet another Audience Award, as did closer "Life of Pi," whose director Ang Lee talked about his translation of Yann Martel's global bestseller. Lee, accompanied by Fox brass Jim Gianopulos and Elizabeth Gabler, also garnered Variety's inaugural International Filmmaker of the Year Award.  And "On the Road" producer Rebecca Yeldham discussed Walter Salles and Jose Rivera's adaptation of the Jack Kerouac classic.

The festival also paid tribute to actor John Hawkes for his moving performance in Ben Lewin's "The Sessions" as poet-journalist Mark O'Brien, a man confined to an iron lung after having polio as a child; he was accompanied by Lewin and co-star Helen Hunt, who plays his sex therapist. Also tributed were actor-directors Billy Bob Thornton ("Jayne Mansfield's Car") and Dustin Hoffman ("Quartet") and filmmaker Mira Nair, whose "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" won the international Audience Favorite Award.

This article is related to: Festivals, Filmmaker Toolkit Festival Strategy, John Hawkes, Billy Bob Thornton, Dustin Hoffman, Ang Lee, Life of Pi, Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell, David O. Russell, On The Road

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.