Mill Valley Film Festival

The Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) is pleased to screen the following young adult films about that defining-and sometimes challenging-post-adolescent/pre-adult time of our lives as part of the 41st edition of the festival which returns October 4-14, 2018.

“I will show you what I know. Sometimes we will disagree. If we learn at all to grow. Then I have done my small duty.” In this peer-reviewed collection of youth-made films, today’s teen filmmakers show us just how much they know about cinema, storytelling, and the world as they see it. The Look (Max Retik, US 2018, 6 min), Goodbye Sam (Theo Taplitz, US 2017, 5 min), Backyard Bees (Will Noyce, US 2018, 4 min), Amrika (Nicole Bahar, US 2017, 4 min), Dance with Me (Isaac Karliner-Li, US 2018, 5 min), Perception (Lola Duenyas, US 2018, 2 min), The Last Straw (Julian Jordan, US 2018, 12 min), Experimenting with Animation (Paige Flaming, US 2018, 1 min), Why, God? (Nathan Ginter, US 2018, 8 min), Davy Jones Can’t Fly (Grant Anderson-Smith, US 2018, 7 min), Censored(Maggie Budzyna, US 2018, 3 min), One in Thirty: The Story of Henry Oster (Sarah Antabli, Tiffany Chang, Stephanie Cho, Sara Lowin, Gracie Sandman, India Spencer, & Juliet Wiener, US 2017, 6 min), Gray Areas (Kat Swander & Jack Safir, US 2018, 7 min), The Rat (Miranda Autumn Lewis, US 2018, 5 min), The Light of My Life (Erina McSweeny, US 2018, 4 min), The Redwood Grove (Will Noyce & August Mesarchik, US 2018, 10 min), Pop (Ishaan Parmar, US 2018, 6 min). Age 11+

  • Expected Guests: Director Will Noyce; Crew August Mesarchik (Backyard Bees); Writer Aidan Kwasneski (The Redwood Grove); Director Ishaan Parmar (Pop); Director Grant Anderson-Smith; Talent Marcus Paulson (Davy Jones Can't Fly); Director Miranda Lewis; Crew Max Chu (The Rat)

  • Screens at MVFF on Sunday, October 7th 11:00 AM at Sequoia 1; Friday, October 12th 12:00 PM at Century Larkspur 3

Anxiety in teenagers and adolescents is an epidemic on the rise, affecting more youth and families than ever before, yet it is still deeply misunderstood and too often disregarded. Angst is the timely and powerful resource we need to spark important conversations about what we can do about it. Deeply personal interviews with children and young adults facing the challenges of managing their own anxiety—and its effects on their physical, emotional, and social lives—provide critical insight for adults to better understand how to help. Additional perspectives from mental health experts and researchers shed light on the causes and damaging cycles of stress. Eye-opening and empowering, Angst is a must-see documentary that gives voice to those suffering and shares tools for parents, teachers, siblings, medical professionals—truly everyone in the community—to address the anxiety affecting so many people we love. This is the first program in CFI’s new year-round Teen Wellness Film Series, presented in partnership with the Tamalpais Union High School District Wellness Center.

  • Screeners available 

  • Expected Guests: Producer Karin Gornick; Subjects Jessica Colvin, Tracy Foose, Jim Wulff, Sarah Wulff

  • Screens at MVFF on Tuesday, October 9th 6:30 PM at Rafael 1


Culling from the bestselling memoirs of both father and son David and Nic Sheff, Oscar®-nominated director Felix van Groeningen’s (The Broken Circle Breakdown) English-language debut is a kaleidoscopic and moving portrait of an American family coping with addiction. Frequent Rolling Stone contributor David (Steve Carell) sees his teenage son Nic’s (an unforgettable Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name, MVFF 2017) marijuana use as harmless experimentation until he begins to spiral out of control on heroin and crystal meth upon leaving for college. What follows is a alternately inspiring and unflinching look as a family begins the long cycle of rehab and relapse, hope and dread. Filmed in San Francisco and Marin County, Beautiful Boy features a diverse soundtrack which includes John Lennon, Nirvana, and Sigur Rós and outstanding supporting performances from Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan as Nic’s maternal figures.

  • Expected Guests: Director Felix van Groeningen; Actors Timothée Chalamet and Amy Ryan

  • Screens at MVFF on Saturday, October 6th 3:00 PM at Rafael 1; Saturday, October 6th 3:00 PM at Rafael 2 (SIMULCAST Q+A); Monday, October 8th  2:00 PM at Sequoia 1


Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges command the screen in Oscar®-nominated writer-director Peter Hedges’ riveting family drama. With touches of suspense and surprise throughout, Ben Is Back traces the 24 hours of a teenage prodigal son’s return to his family’s home from his sober living community for Christmas.

  • Expected Guests: Director Pete Hedges

  • Screens at MVFF on Friday, October 12th 6:00 PM at Sequoia 1; Sunday, October 14th 8:00 PM at Sequoia 1

Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe deliver astonishing performances as a devoted Baptist family whose lives are turned upside down after a malicious phone call outs their teenage son, prompting them to send him to a church-sponsored gay conversion camp. Seventeen-year-old Jared reluctantly agrees to his preacher father’s ultimatum: Fix your same-sex attraction or leave the family. Quickly, Jared realizes that the camp’s aggressive, manipulative methods are doing little to shift his own sexual proclivities or those of his peers (which include Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan and pop superstar Troye Sivan), bringing him to a crossroads that will forever alter his life. In his second directorial outing, actor Joel Edgerton (Loving, MVFF 2016) takes the role of the camp’s leader. Edgerton’s adaptation of Garrard Conley’s harrowing memoir is a sensitive, elliptical coming-of-age tale that depicts a universal story of personal struggles that threaten to dissolve familial bonds.

  • Expected Guests: Director Joel Edgerton 

  • Screens at MVFF on Sunday, October 7th 6:00 PM at Sequoia 1 (SPOTLIGHT ON JOEL EDGERTON); Tuesday, October 9th 3:00 PM at Sequoia 2

Starr Carter (a sensational Amandla Stenberg) is the queen of code switching: living one version of herself with her tight-knit family and neighbors in their Black community of Garden Heights, and another with her classmates at a predominantly white private high school across town. When she becomes the sole witness to the shooting death of her childhood friend, Khalil, by a white policeman, the two Starrs have no choice but to collide—often explosively. Does she stand up for Khalil and speak her truth? Or does she keep quiet and protect herself from the violent forces within her own community? Based on the bestselling young adult novel by Angie Thomas, George Tillman, Jr.’s (Notorious) powerful drama addresses not just police brutality but the root causes of the racial inequity and injustice that permeates American society. Stenberg (The Hunger Games) leads a stellar cast that also includes Common, Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, and Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall as Starr’s devoted parents.

  • Expected Guests: Actor Amandla Stenberg

  • Screens at MVFF on Sunday, October 7th 5:30 PM at Sequoia 2; Thursday, October 11th 2:00 PM at Rafael 1

Life in Nairobi is pretty simple for Kena: make good marks in school, help her father as he runs for local office, take care of her forlorn mother, and play football with her guy friends. Though the lanky, androgynous teenager is more likely to be seen skateboarding around her housing estate than donning dresses like a “proper lady,” somehow no one ever questions her sexuality…possibly not even Kena herself. But when the beautiful pink-dreadlocked Ziki, the daughter of her father’s political rival, catches Kena’s eye, a world of possibilities opens up. As they share dreams of breaking free of familial and cultural expectations, it’s not long before local gossips’ tongues start wagging. And in a place where homosexuality is blamed on demon possession, being true to yourself can have dangerous consequences. Banned in Kenya for “legitimizing lesbianism,” this sweet, coming-of-age love story—the first Kenyan film to ever play at Cannes—is a revelation and an inspiration for all ages and genders.

  • Screeners available

  • Screens at MVFF on Friday, October 12th 6:00 PM at Rafael 2; Saturday, October 13 8:00 PM at Century Larkspur 

Director Lars Kraume (The People vs. Fritz Bauer) crafts another poignant and gripping portrait of mid-1950s Germany with The Silent Revolution. Two teenage boys sneak into a West German movie theater hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite pin-up, but come away bowled over by a newsreel depiction of Hungarian students taking to the streets in an effort to drive out the Soviet forces occupying their country. The actions of youth not much older than themselves inspires the teens and their classmates to make their own gesture of solidarity—two minutes of silence during class. To their surprise, this small act of defiance precipitates a chain of events that will test their friendships, their principles, the bonds of family, and the power structures that underlie the post-Nazi Soviet occupation. Remarkable performances by a new generation of German talent animate this powerful period drama with haunting parallels to our own era of creeping fascism.

  • Screens at MVFF on Tuesday, October 9th 2:30 PM at Sequoia 1; Wednesday, October 10 6:15 PM at Rafael 3

Set during the tenuous political transition of 1990 when Chile returned to democracy after 17 years of dictatorship, Too Late to Die Young follows a group of urban families who have fled the cities and relocated on a mountainous enclave just outside Santiago. Mostly made up of artists and bohemians, the adults focus on the daily necessities of electricity and plumbing. On the cusp of her blooming sexuality, 16-year-old Sofía (Demian Hernández in an arresting screen debut) relies upon on her younger peers for exploration and companionship. Writer-director Dominga Sotomayer Castillo (Thursday Till Sunday, MVFF 2012) makes excellent use of the beauty of nature that surrounds her characters with sunkissed images of the lush natural surroundings as children play in the rivers and the forest. Too Late to Die Young earned Sotomayor Castillo the Best Director prize at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. As the first female director to receive this coveted prize, Sotomayor represents a growing surge of female talent emerging from Chile.

  • Expected Guest: Director Dominga Sotomayer Castillo

  • Screens at MVFF on Sunday, October 7th 11:15 AM at Rafael 3; Tuesday, October 9th 3:15 PM at Century Larkspur 3; Friday, October 12th 8:30 PM at Rafael 2

This exquisitely animated coming-of-age tale, based on the graphic novel memoir by Colombian-Ecuadorian artist Power Paola, follows Paola from her conception to the trials and tribulations of young adulthood. In Quito, Ecuador, Paola navigates life as the baby of the family, constantly at odds with her older sisters and her loving but stern parents—her father an ex-priest who gives them communion at home, her mother a fortune teller. The film charts their family dysfunction in a frank and refreshing manner thanks to the distinct voice of Paola, imbuing Virus Tropical with an intimacy that renders it funny, tender, and moving all at once. The beautiful black-and-white animation style stays true to the film’s origins, capturing both the nostalgia and anguish of growing up. The first feature of video artist and animator Santiago Caicedo, Virus Tropical won audience awards at the SXSW and BAFICI Film Festivals.

  • Expected Guest: Writer/Graphic Novelist Paola Andrea Gaviria Silguero

  • Screens at MVFF on Friday, October 12th 6:00 PM at The Lark Theater; Sunday, October 14th 11:30 AM at Sequoia 2