Celebrities Descend on Napa for the 6th Annual Film Festival

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Dev Patel
Dev Patel

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan for the Napa Valley Film Festival

On Wednesday night the 6th-annual Napa Valley Film Festival opened with a screening of Lion, a new movie that stars Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. Patel was at the event and took the stage afterward for a Q&A session. “I wish my mom was here,” the handsome British actor said. “Roles like this are so rare,” Patel said of the part he plays in Lion, Saroo Brierley. The film tells the real life story of Brierley, a lost Indian boy, who was adopted by an Australian couple, but 25 years later he sets out to find his real mother and brother. The incredibly moving story had many people crying in the packed theater and there is Oscar buzz for both Patel and Kidman, who plays Sue Brierley, his adopted mother.

Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch, Dev Patel, Viggo Mortensen, Kurt Russell, and Lee Daniels
Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch, Dev Patel, Viggo Mortensen, Kurt Russell, and Lee Daniels

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Napa Valley Film Festival

To prepare for the role, Patel traveled on trains alone throughout India and visited several major orphanages. Over 80,000 children are lost in India every year, so the film brings to light this sad epidemic. “India is the land of humanity,” Patel said, “and this film is about unity and diversity. It’s a great collaboration between India, Britain, and Australia. It’s an anthem of diversity.” Naturally, any talk of diversity occurring in the same week that Donald Trump was elected president brought up the question of Trump’s disgust for minorities and immigrants. “If he’s building a wall, we’re going to build some really tall ladders,” Patel said. He also mentioned that the adorable seven year old boy who played young Saroo can not get a visa to come to the United States for the world premiere of the film.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Yesterday, there was a series of tributes that honored different celebrities, including Patel. First Matthew McConaughey and his upcoming role in Gold was highlighted. On the red carpet, McConaughey was accompanied by his wife Camila Alves, who looked stunning in an off-the-shoulder white dress. At 6 pm, most of Napa Valley crowded into the Lincoln Theater in Yountville for the big tribute ceremony hosted by Natalie Morales. For the past five years, Billy Bush has hosted the tributes, but this year Morales took over the job. In a pretty black dress with a cinched waist, she looked stunning. The first two tributes were the Chandon Rising Stars Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch. Morales introduced each star and the crowd watched a sizzle real of the actor’s greatest hits. Then Powell and Deutch joined her on the stage, which was set up like a lounge with navy-and-white tufted velvet coaches. Deutch was celebrating her 22 birthday and Powell led the crowd in a lively rendition of Happy Birthday.

Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch, and Natalie Morales
Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch, and Natalie Morales

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Napa Valley Film Festival

Next Dev Patel was awarded the Raymond trailblazer honor and he spoke more about his Lion role. Chloë Grace Moretz was the other recipient of the trailblazer tribute, but due to a scheduling conflict she was unable to attend the event. The Charles Krug legendary actor and filmmaker tributes went to Kurt Russell and Lee Daniels, respectively. However, the most entertaining tribute of the evening was Viggo Mortensen, the recipient of the Grgich Hills Estate spotlight. Mortensen told a hysterical story about how he frequently gets in trouble at airport security lines for having random things from his life in Idaho—a machete or shotgun shells—in his backpack. He also said that he had not read the Lord of the Rings books before taking the iconic role of Aragon. In fact, he was going to turn down the job, but his 11-year old son convinced Mortensen to do it. Other celebrities at the ceremony included Madeline Zima, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Matt Ross.

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