The Napa Valley Film Festival isn’t your typical film festival. Held in one of the most scenic places in the world, it’s a celebration of film, yes, but also creativity, wine, and culinary adventures. The Napa Valley Film festival was founded by the husband and wife team, Marc & Brenda Lhormer.
“This year’s festival is dedicated to storytellers who share their beguiling art with us in the dark, moving us to think and to feel and to take action,” said the founding couple.
Recently, the Napa fires have left part of the valley in ashes. Despite the threat of canceling the event, this year was better than ever. In fact, a portion of the ticket sales was donated to the Napa Valley film festival Relief Fund.
The Destination Luxury team ventured from Los Angeles to Napa Valley in a 2017 Lexus GS 450h. Regardless of the terrain, if humans could ride a cloud, this would be as close as you could get. The ride was smooth the entire length of the trip. As efficient and powerful as Lexus is with their striking features, their cars stood out as the title sponsor for the Napa Valley Film Festival. Lexus has planted its flag and stood the test of time as a modern luxury brand.
The festival was 6 days long and filled with screenings all over the city, wine tastings, and fantastic vintners dinners. Opening night was held in the caves of the Italics Winegrowers Cellars. Guests tasted cuisine by acclaimed wine country caterer, Elaine Bell, and Italics wines and craft cocktails shaken and served by Scott Beattie of Estate Events by Meadowood. The highlight of the event was the silent disco which had film-lovers moving and grooving to 5 separate tracks of different genres. In addition, Lexus had different variations of their car placed throughout the event.
Will Ferrell was honored at a celebrity tribute hosted at the Lincoln Theater. Award-winning screenwriter and producer, Andrew Steele, did a one-on-one interview with Will Ferrell to talk about his inspiration and plans for the future. After the tribute, guests enjoyed a screening of one of Ferrell’s favorite indie films featuring him in a compelling dramatic lead role in Marc Forster’s 2006 film, Stranger Than Fiction.
A-listers and Movie Moguls (the premiere ticket holders) experienced the A-list dinner party at Eleven Eleven Winery. Each table was hosted by a Vintner Circle Member with cuisine by Estate Events by Meadowood. Following the dinner, they danced to the Party Crashers and experienced the custom Vonsaal Design Build Lounge.
The rising star showcase featured a panel discussion with some of Hollywood’s best up and coming talent. Gregg Sulkin (Faking it, Runaways), Odeya Rush (Goosebumps), Alex Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band), Ana De Armas (Una Rosa De Francia), Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love), and Austin Stowell (Secret Life of the American Teenager) talked about their latest projects at the incredible Mattera, Cunat Family Vineyards, surrounded by stunning wine barrels.
The Vintner Circle Dinners were hosted simultaneously all over while Movie Moguls & celebrities were hosted at the ultimate dinner party at Meadowood Napa Valley by Master Sommelier Desmond Echavarrie, owner of Scale Wine Group. The menu was prepared by James Beard Honoree Chef Alejandro Ayala.
We were invited to the RiverHouse by Bespoke Collection and enjoyed a pairing of exquisite cuisine by Chef Sean Massey of Morimoto Napa with fine wines by Blackbird Vineyards. As we were surrounded by curated antiquities and objets d’art by AERENA Galleries & Gardens, we feasted on king crab legs, Chilean sea bass, and many more delicious creations.
The Friday Night Bash was hosted at the Martin Showroom in St. Helena. Uber-designer Erin Martin hosted a decadent party filled with outrageousness. As we sipped on Stella Artois and craft cocktails by Hangar One, we were treated to a wrestling match, live entertainment, and a stunning wine lounge. The night was full of energy and the guests were dancing all night. Good thing we had Essential Water to hydrate ourselves.
Following the Awards Ceremony, the Napa valley film Festival Gala was hosted on Saturday evening at The CIA at Copia. Filmmakers, celebrities, and food & wine enthusiasts graced the red carpet in their elegant attire. Some of our favorite vineyards featured included Acumen Wines, Caldwell Vineyard, John Anthony Vineyards, and more. A variety of culinary partners were featured including Basalt, Hurley’s, Model Bakery, Norman Rose Tavern & Sweetie Pies. DJ Uncut, Mad Bad Racket and High Noon performed while guests sipped on cocktails by Prohibition Spirits, Toki, Cruzan, Effen and Knob Creek.
Closing night was held at Materra Cunat Family Vineyards. With such an array of parties and extravagance, one may wonder how they could close such an epic festival. Brian Cunat, a proprietor of Cunat Family Vineyards, brought out the best of Matters Wines and even brought an exclusive Cartier Lounge to close the event. We sipped on Cartier Champagne (Brut & Rose) which is not even for sale.
See below for a full list of all the winners in this year’s Napa Valley Film Festival:
- Best Narrative Feature presented by Italics Winegrowers, and with a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley goes to Stuck.
- Best Documentary Feature presented by John Anthony Vineyards, and with a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley, goes to Skid Row Marathon.
- Best Screenplay presented by Darioush goes to The House of Tomorrow.
- Best Ensemble Cast presented by Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley goes to The Boy Downstairs.
- Best Narrative Short presented by Rombauer Vineyards goes to The Dam.
- Jury Award for Best Documentary Short presented by Grgich Hills Estate goes to TheTables.
- Jury Award for Best Lounge Feature presented by Duckhorn Portfolio goes to Quest.
- Jury Award for Best Lounge Short presented by Acumen Wines goes to The Arrival.
- Special Jury Award – For Depth and Grace in Documentary Filmmaking presented by Castellucci Napa Valley goes to The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.
- Special Jury Award – Best Breakout Performance in a Lounge Feature Film presented by Materra Cunat Family Vineyards goes to Mackenzie Davis for her work in the film Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town.
A full list of Audience Awards is below:
- Audience Award for Favorite Actor presented by Tamber Bey Vineyards goes to Gregory Kasyan for his work in the film Quest.
- Audience Award for Favorite Actress presented by Davis Estates goes to Olivia Holt for her work in the film Class Rank.
- Audience Award for Favorite Documentary Feature presented by The Hess Collection goes to Skid Row Marathon.
- Honorable Mention goes to 40 years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie
- Audience Award for Favorite Documentary Short presented by Reynolds Family Vineyards goes to Make It Work: The Idea.
- Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Feature presented by VGS Chateau Potelle goes to Quest.
- Honorable Mention goes to Stuck.
- Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Short presented by RiverHouse by Bespoke Collection goes to The Final Show
- Honorable Mentions go to Life Boat and Brothers.
- Audience Award for Favorite Short Feature presented by Eleven Eleven Winery goes to Taming Wild: A Girl and a Mustang.
Narrative Features Jury: Nancy Collet, Sasha Stone, David Hinojosa Documentary Features Jury: Freida Lee Mock, Brent Emery, Sophie Constantinou Narrative Shorts Jury: Madeline Zima, Gabrielle Carteris, Jon Swartz Documentary Shorts Jury: Dierk Sindermann, Jonathan Robinson, Gren Wells The Lounge Jury: Peter Baxter, Richard Keith, Kim Rocco Shields.