Stars come out for Napa Valley Film Festival
Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” (right) interviews Alan Cumming during the celebrity tribute at the second annual Napa Valley Film Festival on Friday.
The five-day Napa Valley Film Festival consumed the entire Valley to the east from Napa to Calistoga this past weekend, and at the helm were Sonomans Marc and Brenda Lhormer. While only in its second year, the festival has established its place as a robust festival of 100 films, specialty food and wine events and industry insider panels.
Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” returned to host Friday’s celebrity tribute, which honored talent new to the scene alongside seasoned character actors. Actor Adam Driver (“J.Edgar,” “Girls”) was recognized in the rising star category, as was British newbie Imogene Poots. At only 23, Poots has secured significant roles alongside top acting talents such as Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Colin Farrell and Christian Bale.
“I just sit there like a human sponge watching them work,” Poots said of playing the daughter of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener in “A Late Quartet,” which screened at the festival.
Donning a pair of purple Mui Mui pumps and a black sheath dress, Poots told the Index-Tribune it was her first visit to Napa Valley, although she’s long been a fan of the area’s pinot noir. She was honored to receive the award, even though she didn’t revel in watching herself on screen at the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville.
“I’ve had a glass of red wine and that makes it bearable,” she joked.
The trailblazer award went to James Marsden, who talked about how his love of film growing up in Oklahoma formed his path into acting. He began as a teen heartthrob who got his breakout role in “X-Men,” which lead to parts in “Enchanted,” “Death at a Funeral” and “30 Rock.” But even with broad commercial success, he said he never feels like he has job security.
“You can sometimes feel like a fraud. Like you’re faking it, and one day, someone will find out and you’ll be sent home,” he said. “It’s the fear of disappearing.”
Alan Cumming got the night’s top honor with the spotlight award. The Scottish transplant has been making films since the 1980s, with a special talent for character roles such as the lecturer in “Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical” or Eli Gold on “The Good Wife.”
“Sometimes, I can’t believe I‘m being paid for doing these things,” he said.
He felt particularly drawn to his role in “Any Day Now,” which was featured at the festival. The film follows a gay couple in the 1970s that take in teenager with Down syndrome who nobody wants, until the state steps in and removes the teen from the only home he’s ever known.
“I just felt so connected to the story. I like things that involve injustice – isn’t that weird?” he said, adding that it spoke to him personally. “Politically and socially, it’s about things I am passionate about. I am still treated like a second class citizen in much of the world because of my sexuality.”
Tickets for the 2013 festival, set for Nov. 6 to Nov. 11, are already on sale at napavalleyfilmfest.org.