The 2021 Napa Valley Film Festival presented 65+ films virtually, along with a special tribute program. The 2021 program included narrative and documentary features and short films from established and emerging filmmakers across the country.

2021 Tributes

The 2021 Napa Valley Film Festival Tributes were a fantastic lineup of film luminaries and culinary superstars. The tributes featured conversations with the honorees and top journalists following a look at some of their work.


The 2021 NVFF Spotlight Award recipient is actress Caitroina Balfe for her work in “Belfast.”. Join us for this exclusive conversation between Ms. Balfe and Variety’s Jazz Tangcay. Presented by Okapi following exclusive film clips of “Belfast.”


The 2021 NVFF Spotlight Award recipient is actor Jamie Dornan for his work in “Belfast.”. Join us for this exclusive conversation between Mr. Dornan and Variety’s Jazz Tangcay. Presented by Okapi Winery following exclusive film clips of “Belfast.”


The 2021 NVFF Icon Award recipient is Harvey Keitel, Oscar-Nominated actor and producer. Join us for this exclusive conversation between Mr. Keitel and TCM’s Dave Karger. Presented by Mount View Hotel. Following a screening of “Lansky”.


The 2021 NVFF Trailblazer Award recipient is Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award-winning actor and producer. Join us for this exclusive conversation between Ms. Matlin and Variety’s Tim Gray. Presented by Charles Krug Winery. Following screenings of “Children of a Lesser God” and “CODA.”


The 2021 NVFF Rising Star Award recipient is actress Odessa Young for her work in “Mothering Sunday.” Join us for an exclusive conversation with Ms. Young. Presented by Grounded Wine Co.


The 2021 NVFF Excellence in Culinary Cinema Award recipient is David Gelb. Join us for an exclusive conversation between Mr.Gelb and the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Fung. Presented by Vineyard 511. Following a screening of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”


The 2021 NVFF Culinary Cinema Icon Award recipient is Phil Rosenthal. Join us for an exclusive conversation between Mr. Rosenthal and Variety’s Carole Horst. Presented by Ackerman Family Wines. Following a screening of an episode of “Somebody Feed Phil.”


The 2021 NVFF Culinary & Spirits Spotlight Award recipient is Jon Taffer. Join us for an exclusive conversation between Mr.Taffer and Jason Feifer, of Entrepreneur Magazine. Presented by Mount View Hotel.

Narrative Features

The Winter House

Eileen is a grieving novelist seeking to escape her troubles and rents a remote lake house in northern New Hampshire where she meets and forges a bond with Jesse, a young drifter with troubles – and secrets – of his own. Lili Taylor stars. Post screening Q&A. California Premiere.

Fires in the Dark

Set in a small village in Seventeen century France, fifteen year-old Alan is forced to take the place of his father who has sold himself into indentured service for two years to support the family. California Premiere.

Precarious Film


A young man searches for a cursed fortune in an inescapable 1960s dreamscape. A hand-built film that recalls an era of fantasy not reliant on digital effects, Precarious is a remarkable mystery story. Post-screening Q&A.

The Only One

Tom just turned thirty. She has spent her whole life chasing her wanderlust, collecting passport stamps, experiences and stories to tell her grandchildren. Now, contemplating the question of the biological clock, she arrives on a vineyard in the south of France to revisit the one man who she ever considered settling down with. Post-screening Q&A.


Four vagabonds, with seemingly no future, will discover the meaning of hope after a chance encounter. For Jo and Faustine, two worlds collide: misery and opulence, illiteracy and culture. One is a young woman living out of her broken car, while the other, a wannabe writer, ran away from her family and comfortable consumerist life. California Premiere.


An adult woman puts herself up for adoption and forms a bond with the misanthropic patriarch of her adoptive family. Porcupine is  based on a true story that stars Jena Malone. California Premiere.

Moving in 2008

Documenting a family tragedy that takes place during the recession of 2008, the film is both personal and universal with its honest depiction of a family going thru a crisis catalyzed by unemployment, personal demons, and illness. Post-screening Q&A.

Children of a Lesser God

(Playing on Conjunction with Tribute Honoree Marlee Matlin)

Having taught at the best institutions in the country aside from other more eclectic jobs, James Leeds, with progressive methods, has just started teaching at a school for the deaf on an island off the New England coast, where he is assigned primarily to a speech class for the upper grades. At the school, he quickly notices the young cleaning woman, who he learns is twenty-five-year-old Sarah Norman and who, deaf herself, was once a student there and has been there since the age of five.


(Playing in conjunction with Harvey Keitel Tributee)

David Stone, a renowned but down-on-his-luck writer, has the opportunity of a lifetime when he receives a surprise call from Meyer Lansky. For decades, authorities have been trying to locate Lansky’s alleged nine-figure fortune and this is their last chance to capture the aging gangster before he dies. With the FBI close behind, the Godfather of organized crime reveals the untold truth about his life as the notorious boss of Murder Inc. and the National Crime Syndicate.


(As requested to screen by 2021 Tribute honoree Phil Rosenthal)

A rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef despite his family’s wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession. When fate places Remy in the sewers of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau.

Documentary Features

The Choir and Conductor

The Choir and Conductor is about a visionary conductor hired when few women were given the chance to conduct and her extraordinary impact on thousands of children who love to sing together in a Choir, now world-renowned. Directed by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, and NVFF alum Freida Lee Mock. Post-screening Q&A. West Coast Premiere.

Meeting The Beatles in India

Filmmaker Paul Saltzman retraces his journey of 50 years ago when he spent a life-changing time with the Beatles at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram on the banks of the Ganges River In 1968. Post-screening Q&A. California Premiere.

The Mustangs: American’s Wild Horses

America’s Wild Horses takes audiences on an odyssey throughout America to places few people have seen or even know about. There are more than 80,000 wild horses on our federal lands and more than 50,000 in government corrals, this is their story. Executive produced by Robert Redford, Patti Scialfa Springsteen and Jessica Springsteen. The film features songs by Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, and Willie Nelson. Post-screening Q&A.

The Art of Making It

Against the backdrop of a culture in crisis, The Art of Making It follows a diverse cast of young artists at defining moments in their careers to explore whether the art world ecosystem meant to nurture them is actually failing them. California Premiere.


Once a year, a group of highly competitive table-setters vie for the “best of Show” ribbon at the Orange County Fair competition. From taxidermy monkeys to table-reveal parties, eccentric personalities and old rivalries come to a head as contestants spend months preparing their tables only to be penalized by a misplaced dessert fork. Post-screening Q&A.


Fireboys is the untold story of young men incarcerated in California who are offered a way out: by fighting wildfires. Immersive and personal, this coming-of-age story is told from the perspectives of the young men as they summon the courage to fight fires and confront their pasts. Post-screening Q&A.

The Book Makers

The book is dead, long live the book. The Book Makers pulls back the curtain on the people who are keeping books alive in the 21st century. From the esoteric world of book artists to the digital libraries of the Internet Archive, the film spins a tale of the enduring vitality the book. Post-screening Q&A.

Dear Sirs

After discovering an archive detailing the horrifying journey of his grandfather as an American POW during World War II, a young man from Wyoming sets out to retrace his footsteps across Germany on bicycle in an effort to understand the most influential person in his life. California Premiere.

Dear Ike: Lost Letters to a Teen Idol

A boy’s fantastic dream of making movies with his teen idol finally becomes reality, but in the most unexpected way. Dion Labriola recounts his all-consuming childhood quest to contact his teen idol, Ike Eisenmann (of Walt Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain fame). Post-screening Q&A.

United States vs. Reality Winner

A state of secrets and a ruthless hunt for whistleblowers – this is the story of a 25-year-old NSA contractor named Reality Winner, who disclosed a document about Russian election interference to the media, and then became the number one leak target of the Trump administration. Post-screening Q&A.

Missing in Brooks County

Two families arrive in Brooks County, Texas to look for their loved ones who went missing after crossing into the country from Mexico. On their search they meet vigilante ranchers, human smugglers, humanitarian activists, and Border Patrol agents, all of whom are locked in a proxy version of the national immigration debate.

Until The Wheels Come Off

To raise funds for cancer research, a 50 year-old cyclist enters Race Across America (RAAM), one of the most grueling ultra-endurance events in the world. World Premiere.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

(Playing in conjunction with Tributee honoree David Gelb)

In the basement of a Tokyo office building, 85 year-old sushi master Jiro Ono works tirelessly in his world-renowned restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. As his son Yoshikazu faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over the legendary restaurant, Jiro relentlessly pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi.

Somebody Feed Phil

(This episode of Somebody Feed Phil is playing in conjunction with tribute honoree Phil Rosenthal)

Rio – Phil feels the beat — and heat — while dancing at Carnival, sampling fruit and feijoada, sipping potent caipirinhas, and pigging out at a churrascaria.

The Book Keepers

Determined to keep his late-wife’s dream alive, Dick Wall becomes the unlikely spokesperson for her debut memoir and embarks on an unexpected cross-country promotional tour. He’s joined by his filmmaker son, who is torn between saving his mom’s first book and his concern for how his dad is coping with their new reality. The journey challenges the pair to talk about loss, relationships and the healing power of sharing stories.

Short Films

Narrative Short Films 1

A collection of eight comedic narrative shorts, this program features; “Exposure.” “Hayseeds,” “Carl the Exorcist,” “Duality Derby,” “Moneybag Head,” “Phantom Spectre,” “What Do We Do,” and “Game Face.”

Narrative Short Films 2

These seven short films may feel a bit dark but we loved them and hope you will too. The folks are: “Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die,” “The Last Queen on Earth,” “Cricket,” “Proof of Loss,” “Lost Kings,” “Be Still,” and “Pizza Party.”

Narrative Short Films 3

Our third narrative short film program is both dark and funny. The nine films are: “Demi’s Panic,” “Rock a Bye Baby,” “Graceland,” “Man Drops Dead,” “Waffle,” “Cabin For Two,” “Master Maggie,” “Silent Date,” and Mosquito.”

Documentary Shorts 1

A selection of darker, but important and powerful short documentaries make up this program. Films include; “Not Worth Killing,” “The FBI’s Secret War,” “The Roads Most Traveled,” and “Sea Gypsies: The Plutonium Dome.”

Documentary Shorts 2

A collection of quirky stories make up this short program of documentary films. “Living Music,” “Memory Lanes,” “Junior,” “Who is Wearly Willie,” “Five Foot 280,” and “The Misfits.”

Documentary Shorts 3

This shorts program has five fascinating documentary films that will leave you inspired and a little smarter. Films include; “Dear Future Me,” “This Land,” “Grass Farmers,” “All The Possibilities,” and “Me and My Robot.”