The Napa Valley Film Festival, presented by 501c nonprofit organization Cinema Napa Valley, has partnered with teachers in our local school districts to showcase over 50 unique films to students over the past nine years. Many of these films are now available to stream on VOD, various streaming platforms, and specific film websites. In an effort to help you make the most of your time at home, we have curated an uplifting selection of films from past student education programs that are informative, engaging, and inspirational. We hope that these stories can spark conversation and creativity amongst you and your loved ones.
Big Dream, dir. Kelly Cox (2014)
Big Dream follows the intimate stories of seven young women who are breaking barriers and overcoming personal challenges to follow their passion in science, math, computing, and engineering. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Big Sonia, dirs. Todd Soliday, Leah Warshawski (2016)
In the last store in a defunct shopping mall, 91-year-old Sonia Warshawski – great-grandmother, businesswoman, and Holocaust survivor – runs the tailor shop she’s owned for more than 30 years. When she’s served an eviction notice, the specter of retirement prompts Sonia to revisit her harrowing past as a refugee and witness to genocide. A poignant story of generational trauma and healing, Big Sonia also offers a laugh-out-loud-funny portrait of the power of love to triumph over bigotry and the power of truth-telling to heal us all. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play, dir. Jerome Thelia (2015)
Based on the book by anthropologist John Fox, The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game, Bounce takes us to the far reaches of the globe and the deep recesses of our ancient past to answer the question: why do we play ball? Equal parts science, history, and visual essay, the film follows the bouncing ball from animal play through professional sports to video games, exploring why we play and what play says about who we are and where we are going as a civilization. Recommended for elementary, middle, and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and YouTube.
The Gateway Bug, dir. Johanna B. Kelly (2017)
Over two billion people on earth eat insects for protein. The Gateway Bug explores how changing daily eating habits can feed humanity in an uncertain age, one meal at a time. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Google Play, Tubi, Vudu, and YouTube.
Girl Rising, dir. Richard E. Robbins (2013)
Girl Rising tells the stories of nine girls from different parts of the world who face arranged marriages, child slavery, and other heartbreaking injustices. Despite these obstacles, the brave girls offer hope and inspiration. By getting an education, they’re able to break barriers and create change. Each girls’ story was written by a renowned writer from her native country. Recommended for high school. Now streaming on Google Play, iTunes, Tubi, Vudu, and YouTube.
How I Became an Elephant, dirs. Tim Gorski, Synthian Sharp (2012)
How I Became an Elephant follows fourteen-year-old Juliette from suburban California to southeast Asia on her quest to save the world’s largest land mammals. Through her travels, Juliette meets Lek Chailert. Together, these unwavering women from opposite ends of the earth converge on common ground. With the rising rate of extinction, in part due to the growing industries animal entertainment and elephant trekking, Juliette and Lek will stop at nothing to expose the dark secrets within an industry steeped in greed and cruelty in their determined attempt to save the elephants. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime and iTunes.
The Kodiak Queen, dir. Rob Sorrenti
The Kodiak Queen is about an arts and ecological initiative by Sir Richard Branson to transform a battered warship that survived Pearl Harbor into an artificial reef and dive site in the British Virgin Islands. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Vimeo.
Landfill Harmonic, dirs. Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley (2015)
Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their home country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and YouTube.
Miss Representation, dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom (2013)
Miss Representation is an award-winning documentary film that exposes how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited, and often disparaging, portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman or girl to feel powerful herself. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube.
The Rebound, dir. Shaina Koren Allen (2016)
The Rebound follows the underdog journey of the Miami Heat Wheels wheelchair basketball team in their quest for victory and redemption during the year following a crushing defeat at the wheelchair basketball national championships. Despite a disappointing elimination the year before and the team’s dwindling resources, adaptive athletes rally towards the title while each strive for their own dreams and a second chance to win against all odds. Director Shaina Koren Allen’s high-octane film presents us with a story of unwavering resolve and a testament to mankind’s innate ability to overcome life’s toughest challenges, including those beyond what meets the eye. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Google Play, Tubi, Vudu, and YouTube.
Right Footed, dir. Nick Spark (2015)
Despite being born without arms, Jessica Cox overcame seemingly insurmountable physical and emotional challenges to become fully independent. With her family’s support and her incredible willpower, Jessica learned to type with her toes, drive a car with her feet, and, amazingly, fly an airplane. Right Footed shares Jessica’s remarkable life story and follows her in her burgeoning roles as a motivational speaker, mentor, and leading advocate for people with disabilities. Recommended for elementary, middle, and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Tubi, Vudu, and YouTube.
Science Fair, dirs. Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster (2018)
Nine high school students from disparate corners of the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks, and hormones on their quest to win the international science fair. Only one can be named Best in Fair. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+, Google Play, and YouTube.
Skid Row Marathon, dir. Mark Hayes (2017)
A criminal court judge starts a running club on L.A.’s Skid Row where he trains a motley group of homeless people to run international marathons. Recommended for high school. Now streaming on Google Play and YouTube.
Sonic Sea, dirs. Michelle Dougherty, Daniel Hinerfeld (2016)
Watch as Ken Balcomb, a former U.S. Navy officer, solves a tragic mystery involving a mass stranding of whales in the Bahamas and changes the way we understand our impact on the ocean. Sonic Sea offers solutions and hope for a quieter ocean, underscoring how the ocean’s destiny is bound with our own. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Vimeo.
#standwithme, dirs. Patrick Moreau, Grant Peelle (2014)
After seeing one of Lisa Kristine’s photos of two enslaved boys in Nepal, 9-year old Vivienne was moved to help in the only way she knew how: by setting up a lemonade stand. With an ambitious initial goal of raising $100,000 to free 500 children, Vivienne takes her ideas to the street. #standwithme is powerful film about one girl’s passion to fix the world and how her creativity and dedication inspired others to do the same. Recommended for elementary and middle school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Underwater Dreams, dir. Mary Mazzio (2014)
Underwater Dreams, narrated by Michael Peña, chronicles the epic story of four teenage boys from the desert who build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts and go up against engineering powerhouse MIT in the process. Recommended for middle and high school. Now streaming on Amazon Prime and iTunes.
Winning, dir. Jacqueline Joseph (2016)
One film. Five legendary athletes. Winning tells the compelling and inspiring journeys of tennis champion Martina Navratilova, golf great Jack Nicklaus, Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, track and field star Edwin Moses, and Paralympian Esther Vergeer. Through candid interviews and footage of their most exciting triumphs, the film explores why some athletes achieve greatness. Recommended for elementary, middle, and high school. Now streaming on iTunes and Netflix.