October 17, 2007–The Mill Valley Film Festival ended its 30th edition Sunday night with a screening of “The Kite Runner,” Marc Forster's adaptation of the bestselling novel. Author Khaled Hosseini, scenarist David Benioff and actor Khalid Abdalla attended the screenings.
Festival had 89 sold-out shows during its 11-day run, with attendance rising 12% this year to 40,000.
Audience favorites were Reese Witherspoon-Jake Gyllenhaal political thriller “Rendition” (best narrative feature), Tricia Regan's “Autism: The Musical” (documentary) and Don McBrearty's Canadian “Luna: Spirit of the Whale” (children's film fest feature).
There were personal tributes for Ang Lee, who has attended Mill Valley since his 1991 debut feature “Pushing Hands” and who presented “Lust, Caution” this year. Scribe-turned-helmer Terry George came with Focus Features drama “Reservation Road.” Also attending was Jennifer Jason Leigh, accompanied by her husband, “Margot at the Wedding” writer-director Noah Baumbach.
The event premiered docu “The Pixar Story,” whose screening was attended by the studio's John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, ILM's Craig Barron and Dennis Murren, the film's narrator Stacy Keach and AMPAS prez Sid Ganis.
First-time helmer Ben Affleck and actress Amy Ryan showed up with their thriller “Gone Baby Gone.”
Two flashback events brought out the area's aging hippie population: After a screening of Todd Haynes' “I'm Not There,” local and visiting musicians played a Bob Dylan tribute concert, among them John Doe, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bob Weir, Chris Isaak and Nels Cline of Wilco.
Eric Christiansen's docu “The Trips Festival,” about the three-day 1966 San Francisco counterculture “happening” that predated the Summer of Love, also drew out some of the folk who'd attended the original event.
Other guests included Marin-based helmer John Korty, who presented a digitally remastered print of his first feature, the pioneering 1966 “The Crazy Quilt”; the prolific Rob Nilsson, who has had more titles in the fest than anyone else, going back to his debut “Northern Lights” in 1979. This year Nilsson had no less than three features, including the last two in a “9 @ Night” series of interlocking narratives made over the course of the last decade. That cycle will make its official bow at the Harvard Film Archive November 17-19.