Magazine article Variety

Mill Valley Throws Its Hat into Awards Ring

Magazine article Variety

Mill Valley Throws Its Hat into Awards Ring

Article excerpt

The vibe may be laid back. But the buzz is full on.

As the Mill Valley Film Festival enters its 38th year, it's becoming increasingly recognized as an awards season platform.

"We're Ohio," says executive director and founder Mark Fishkin, referring to the state's value in the presidential elections. "Everyone knew how the West Coast and East Coast would vote, but no one knew what would happen in Ohio."

With its swollen ranks of Academy members, the conclusion that the Bay Area matters hardly comes as a shocker. But what is surprising is its skill at showcasing winners well before Oscar nominees are even announced. Since 2008 alone, MVFF has screened five of the seven best picture winners including "12 Years a Slave," "Argo," "The Artist," "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire."

Best pics are not the only spillovers from Marin County to Hollywood. MVFF awardees Eddie Redmayne for "The Theory of Everything," Jared Leto for "Dallas Buyers Club" and Helen Mirren for "The Queen" were also later crowned with Oscars.

This year, actor-writer-comedian Sarah Silverman places her hat in the ring with "I Smile Back" as a self-destructive suburban wife and mother, a role that ignited sparks at its Sundance premiere. …

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