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raymac Written by raymac
Sep. 17, 2012 | 3:37 PM

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Napa Valley Film Festival Announces Jury

Napa Valley Film Festival

Napa Valley Film Festival Announces Jury

Napa, Calif. (September 17, 2012) – The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) is pleased to announce the composition of the Jury for their second annual Festival, scheduled November 7 – 11, 2012.  Leading the Jury will be Leonard Maltin, the respected film critic and historian, perhaps best known for his annual paperback reference Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, first published in 1969 and now available for iPhone and iPad.

“We are thrilled and honored to have the Jury line-up that we do for the second Annual Napa Valley Film Festival,” said Marc Lhormer, Executive and Artistic Director of the Napa Valley Film Festival.  “All of the Jurors exude passion, experience and excitement for the film industry and contribute their own knowledge and diverse background to the Festival.  We look forward to hearing what this year’s high caliber Judges think about the film selections, of which we are incredibly proud.” 

The Jurors will be divided into three different categories including U.S. Narrative Features, U.S. Documentary Features and Short Films, and U.S. Narrative Short Films.  The Narrative Features Jury will award a $10,000 cash prize presented by Meadowood Napa Valley to the Director of the Best Narrative Feature.  In the same category of films, the audience will be voting for both Favorite Film and Best Actor or Actress; the Best Actor or Actress will receive a $1,000 cash prize and wine from Mt. Veeder Appellation Wineries.  All winners take home large format and signed collectible boots from some of Napa Valley’s most sought after wineries.

U.S. Narrative Features

John Horn:
John Horn covers the film business for the Los Angeles Times, where he has been a staff writer since 2002. He previously served as a senior writer and senior editor for Newsweek and Premiere magazines, and graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sydney Levine:
Sydney Levin has thirty plus years in the film industry. She was the first woman in international film distribution at 20th Century Fox, a pioneering acquisitions executive for Lorimar, and later Vice President of Acquisitions for Republic Pictures. She maintains the blog SydneysBuzz, which appears on IMDbPro’s front page and is a featured blog of IndieWIRE.

Lisa Schwartz:
Lisa Schwartz is the Executive Vice President of Distribution, Operations and Business Development for Sundance Selects and IFC Films. In this role, she serves as the senior distribution strategist for the division and oversees domestic and foreign distribution for IFC Films operations across all platforms, including theatrical, premium VOD, pay TV, digital, portable devices, home video and all emerging new platforms. 

Morrie Warshawski:
Morrie Warshawski has worked in the nonprofit arts and culture sector for over thirty years and formerly served as the Executive Director of Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco. He is the author of many articles and books used extensively by filmmakers, including Shaking The Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film and Video.

Paul Zaentz:
Hollywood producer Paul Zaentz is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and started his movie making career with the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus.  Over the last 30 years he had the privilege of working with many brilliant and passionate movie makers on projects such as The Mosquito Coast, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Goya’s Ghosts.

U.S. Documentary Features and Short Films:

Lissa Gibbs:
Lissa Gibbs’s professional experience includes producing educational and network broadcast documentaries and teaching in middle, high school, and college-level institutions.  She has held leadership positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Tucson and at San Francisco’s Film Arts Foundation (FAF), working in all areas of operations including strategic planning, communications, public relations, board relations, program development, fundraising and cultivation, membership, grant writing, and budgeting.

Dan Lindsay:
T.J. Martin:
Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin are the co-directors, co-editors and co-cinematographers of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, a selection of the 2011 NVFF.  Both filmmakers got their start by making independent documentaries and producing, directing and editing several short-form and feature length pieces, individually and as a team.  Lindsay was born and raised in Rockford, IL and graduated from the University of Missouri in 2001.  Martin was born and raised in Seattle, WA and graduated from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University.

U.S. Narrative Short Films:

Sheila Benson:
Sheila Benson was the principal film critic for the Los Angeles Times from 1981-1991.  Affiliated with the National Society of Film Critics and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, she has served on juries at film festivals including Berlin, Toronto, and Sundance.  Her work has appeared in publications from Interview, Premiere and Variety to The New York Times, and can now be found at

Pat Saperstein:
Pat Saperstein is associate editor of Variety, where she coordinates festival coverage and daily news.  Pat has served on juries at several festivals and has been on numerous panels sharing her wisdom and experiences on topics ranging from independent filmmaking, financing and distribution, to digital filmmaking.

Melanie Lynskey:
An accomplished and versatile actress, New Zealand-born Lynskey can currently be seen in Hello I Must Be Going.  Past credits include: Win Win; Up in the Air; The Informant; Away We Go; Flags of Our Fathers; Sweet Home Alabama and her first, award-winning role in Heavenly Creatures opposite Kate Winslet.  On television, she is loved by audiences for her role as Rose in the hit series Two and a Half Men.

The NVFF’s full program will be announced October 1, 2012.  The anticipated line-up of over 100 films will include U.S. Dramatic and Documentary Features, World Cinema, Premieres, Red Carpet Screenings and Studio Sneak Previews, and Narrative Shorts and Documentary Short Subjects. 

The Festival will be held in Napa Valley’s picturesque communities of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, with screening and hospitality venues clustered in four walkable festival villages.  The five day “extended weekend” will feature new independent films; Studio Sneak Previews; conversations with attending directors, actors, producers and writers; Opening and Closing Night festivities; the highly anticipated Festival Gala; Celebrity Tribute and Awards Programs; wine tasting pavilions; film industry and culinary-focused panel discussions; and VIP receptions and dinners with Napa Valley’s own celebrity chefs and winemakers.

About the Napa Valley Film Festival & Cinema Napa Valley:

The Napa Valley Film Festival is produced by Cinema Napa Valley, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in Napa, California. The festival’s co-creators – and Cinema Napa Valley co-chairs – are Brenda and Marc Lhormer, producers and distributors of the feature film BOTTLE SHOCK about the historic upset victory by Napa Valley wines over the French at the1976 wine-tasting competition in Paris. BOTTLE SHOCK premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival before going on to international theatrical distribution. The husband-and-wife team also ran the successful Sonoma Valley Film Festival from 2001 through 2008. In addition to producing the annual film festival, Cinema Napa Valley presents special film programs throughout the year and provides support to student filmmaking programs in Napa Valley schools. To learn more, visit and follow

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