Screen Spirit

MVFF Exhibit is not easy to find—but it’s well worth the effort
photo 1-7
October 10, 2015 — Just out of shouting distance of the crowds, right around the corner from the thrumming hub of cinematic energy that is the Rafael Film Center (in downtown San Rafael), there is a free exhibit of photos and film clips celebrating the 100th birthday of Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982). According to Film Center programmer Richard Peterson, the exhibit—titled The Saga of Ingrid Bergman—comes to the Mill Valley Film Festival straight from the Embassy of Sweden, in Washington, D.C., where it was developed and presented as part of Sweden’s cultural outreach program. The showing is tucked away in an unused photo 5-3office space at 1020 B. St. “It’s not easy to find, that’s for sure,” laughs Peterson, on opening night of the exhibit, attended (when I was there) by only about a dozen people, “but we’re hoping the word spreads and people coming looking for it. I don’t think people will be disappointed.” True, and most attendees of the festival will be walking past the  exhibit anyway, as it stands between the theater and one busy parking area.
The exhibit is comprised of 30 photos of Bergman showing the actress in her professional and personal life, and a multimedia kiosk with three screens showing clips of her films with details of her rise and fall—and rise again—in Hollywood. There are also a small number of movie posters, which are cool to see close up and life-sized. photo 1-8The underlying tone of the exhibit is one of deep respect, making the case for Bergman as the consummate artist and iconoclast. Hardcore Ingrid fans are unlikely to discover anything new, but it’s thrilling to see one of the most iconic actresses of all time get the star treatment, and bit of praise and love, all over again.

Opening night features parties, parties, parties—and even some  films 
October 9, 2015 — Opening night of the Mill Valley Film Festival is always fun, with pre-festival receptions flowing with intoxicating beverages, press-conferences and screenings infused with cinematic star-power, and after-parties so jam-packed with revelers that its sometimes hard to move. With all of that festival-level excitement, it’s sometimes possible to forget that there are movies being screened. It’s interesting, and a little disappointing, how few people at the after-party could actually admit to having seen any of the opening night movies. Me, I like to the parties and the movies. On opening night, between the pre-festival reception in Mill Valley and the After Party in Corte Madera, I was able to photo 3-10catch Tom McCarthy’s ‘Spotlight,’ a remarkably well-crafted drama about the team of Boston Globe journalists who cracked the Catholic church priest-hiding scandal of 2001 and 2002. For me, it’s the movie of the year, and the screening I saw was sold out, but at the after-party, I could find exactly two people who’d seen it—and they were other journalists. Rather than speaking to some lack of respect for movies and filmmaking, I think it speaks to the success of the MVFF’s party planning team. photo 2-11The opening night after-party, which completely took over the sprawling open-air Marin Country Mart—featured dance music by Los Pinguos, a red carpet and champagne greeting every attendee, colored lights and projections splashed upwards onto the walls in every direction, tables piled with (quickly vanishing) food, about a dozen bars pouring free drinks, and one very popular donut truck serving snacks the size of small birthday cakes. The fun of these parties comes from taking on the treasure hunt mentality necessary to locate visiting filmmakers—like the young men carrying a disembodied piñata head around in hopes it would inspire MVFF splash lightpeople to ask them about the film they made about . . . a piñata? I never got close enough to find out the name of their film, but they were certainly having a good time. And they did a good job of reminding people that, along with the dancing and the drinking, the reason for it all was a love of the craft and magic of movies, and that, not far away, some people (people who for some reason decided not to attend the party) were sitting in little theaters surrounded by lines of excited movie fans, actually watching the films the party-goers were there to celebrate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.