Netflix’s sequel “Knives Out” will open the 45th Mill Valley Film Festival. Here is an overview of the full range

Daniel Craig (left) returns as Detective Benoit Blanc, along with LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan in ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,’ writer-director Rian Johnson’s sequel to his smash hit ‘Knives Out.’ The film will open the Mill Valley Film Festival on October 6. Photo: Claire Folger/Netflix

‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is set to open the 45th Mill Valley Film Festival on October 6 as the star-run Marin County event returns to full steam after two years of operation under pandemic conditions .

Writer-director Rian Johnson and actors Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr. will attend opening night screenings at CinéArts Sequoia and the Smith Rafael Film Center, as well as the afterparty at the outdoor Marin Country Mart at Larkspur, to top off an evening that kicks off 11 days of screenings, celebrities, parties and music events.

MVFF45 will screen 145 films representing 34 countries, including 49 premieres (including four world premieres), 74 feature films and 71 short films. Two live music performances performed at Mill Valley’s Sweetwater Music Hall are also featured in the program, announced Wednesday, September 7.

The festival ends on October 16 with “The Good Nurse” – director Tobias Lindholm’s film based on the real life story of Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), a New Jersey nurse who may have killed up to 400 of his patients, which would make him the most prolific known serial killer in history. Lindholm, Redmayne and co-star Nnamdi Asomugha — a Bay Area resident when he played football for the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers — are expected to attend.

The closing party will take place outdoors at the Mill Valley Depot Plaza.

Eddie Redmayne (left) and Jessica Chastain in a scene from ‘The Good Nurse,’ which closes the 45th Mill Valley Film Festival on October 16. Photo: JoJo Wilden/Netflix

This lineup comes after the 2020 event was mostly online, with select films screened during a pop-up drive-in; and after the 2021 festival returns to a sense of normalcy, with a reduced number of programs and reduced seating capacity to allow for social distancing.

“This year is very different from other (pandemic) years,” festival founder and director Mark Fishkin told The Chronicle. “In 2020, the drive-in was exciting. And 2021, you could tell the feeling was back. But this year, we can say that we are really back on the road to put the ‘festive’ back into the festival.

There will be no seating restrictions, but the festival requires masks to be worn at all times inside, except when eating or drinking. A bright side of the pandemic is that online programs will likely become a permanent feature of the event; this year, there are about two dozen programs that will be available virtually.

Other highlights of the 2022 program include a tribute to director James Gray (October 8), which will feature “Armageddon Time,” a personal coming-of-age story starring Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong; a spotlight on Mind the Gap award-winning “Women Talking” (October 9), featuring star and Bolinas resident Frances McDormand; “Till” (October 11), a landmark film and another Mind the Gap award winner about Emmett Till and his mother’s quest for justice, with director Chinonye Chukwu and star Danielle Deadwyler in attendance; a tribute to actor Brendan Fraser (October 13), which will feature the West Coast premiere of “The Whale,” Darren Aronofsky’s new film in which the actor plays an obese man trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter ; and a showpiece evening on MVFF Best First Feature winner “Nanny” (October 15) – the first horror film to win the Grand Jury Award at Sundance – with director Nikyatu Jusu and lead actress Anna Diop in person.

Brendan Fraser, who will be the subject of a tribute at the Mill Valley Film Festival, stars in “The Whale”. Photo: A24

Longtime programmer Zoe Elton called this year’s schedule “strong” and “well-balanced,” noting that films released during the traditional fall awards season are excellent. Venice and Toronto festivals traditionally start the season, and Mill Valley is a stop for films hoping to strike gold at the Oscars.

“This year is kind of like the phoenix rising from the ashes of the madness of the last few years,” Elton said, adding that 2022 “is turning out to be an extraordinary year for extraordinary movies. I’m amazed at how many filmmakers present such profound and original work this year.

Landing “Glass Onion” was a big win, and it wasn’t the only one. Elton was proud of all the big nights, but pointed to “Till.” She thinks director Chinonye Chukwu (“Clemency”) is a rising talent and “Till” could be her breakthrough.

“The film centers around the experience of Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett Till’s mother, and it’s just a brilliant move, because you really see her transformation as a grieving woman in this time, and a woman whose personal commitment to her son really changed the story,” Elton said. “We’re giving out two awards for this movie, for the director and the lead actress (Danielle Deadwyler) – she’s phenomenal. Sometimes you can see that the director-actor relationship has been totally trusting. It’s as if Chinonye has empowered Danielle to truly act from the roots of her soul.

Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall) and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) in “Till”. Photo: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Orion Pictures

A notable part of the 45th edition is the large number of films from local filmmakers, including the world premiere of Gregory Bezat’s documentary “The Art of Eating: The Life of MFK Fisher”, about the great Northern California food writer (1908-1992) .

Others include Trip Jennings’ timely documentary “Elemental: Reimagining Our Relationship With Fire”; the world premiere of “Fantastic Negrito: Have You Ever Lost Your Mind?”, a look at the musician’s account with his demons as he creates his most personal album, directed by Yvan Iturriaga and Francisco Núñez Capriles; and “Faultline,” the latest from prolific Bay Area treasure Rob Nilsson, concluding his “Nomad” trilogy.

Evenings at Sweetwater Music Hall include Bay Area Latin jazz icon John Santos performing with “a select few friends” to celebrate the California premiere of the documentary “Santos – Skin to Skin”; and San Francisco-based avant-garde band The Residents will perform a set from “Faceless Forever,” the band’s upcoming 50th anniversary tour. His first feature film, “Triple Trouble”, is at the festival.

MVFF45 is based, as usual, in Marin County at CinéArts Sequoia, the Smith Rafael Film Center and the Lark Theater in Larkspur, and the event’s partnership with the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive continues. The 2022 edition adds a new venue at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, which will host screenings on October 15 and 16.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is writer-director Rian Johnson’s sequel to his hit “Knives Out.” Picture: Netflix

45th Mill Valley Film Festival

When: October 6-16

Where: Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael; CineArts Sequoia, 25 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; Lark Theatre, 549 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center St., Berkeley; Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., SF

Opening night: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” 6:06 p.m. Oct., CinéArts Sequoia and Smith Rafael Film Center; followed by a party at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur.

Tribute, staging: James Gray, “Armageddon Time,” 6:30 p.m. October 8, Smith Rafael Film Center.

Projector: “Women Talking,” 5 p.m. Oct. 9, Smith Rafael Film Center (Mind the Gap Award, ensemble).

Table’s center : “Till”, 7 p.m. Oct. 11, CinéArts Sequoia (Mind the Gap Prize, creativity and truth).

Tribute, acting: Brendan Fraser, “The Whale,” 7 p.m. Oct. 13, CinéArts Sequoia.

Spotlight, first feature film: “Nanny,” 6 p.m. October 15, CinéArts Sequoia.

Closing party: “The Good Nurse,” 5 p.m. October 16, CinéArts Sequoia and Smith Rafael Film Center; followed by a party at Mill Valley Depot Plaza.

Tickets: Advance ticket packages and passes on sale. Individual tickets available Friday, September 9 for California Film Institute members and Monday, September 13 for the general public; $8 to $16.50 for general admission programs; special programs vary.


Gerald R. Schneider