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Sun Valley Film Festival, Take Three: Seeing Stars

This year's Sun Valley Film Festival should be best yet

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Sequels often disappoint. But then there's the Sun Valley Film Festival.

Following 2013's avalanche of success when Jodie Foster gushed about the burgeoning festival's achievement (BW, Screen, "SVFF Will Only Become More Successful," March 20, 2013), festival organizers have raised the bar with this year's slate of films and special guests--including some of the industry's best filmmakers.

The four-day festival launches Thursday, March 13, with an opening night presentation of The Face of Love, starring Ed Harris, Annette Bening and Robin Williams. Boise Weekly was in attendance at a special preview of the film during last September's Toronto International Film Festival and it's a winner.

The Face of Love is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a widow who falls for a man who bears a striking resemblance to her late husband, and it is among 26 feature-length films--11 dramas and 15 documentaries--that will screen throughout the long weekend. There will also be a special 20th anniversary screening of the indie-classic Clerks with actor-director-writer Kevin Smith on hand for a post-screening Q&A.

The 2014 SVFF will also showcase more than 40 short films, including world premieres from Festival partner National Geographic, which will also announce a winner of its Wild to Inspire short film competition, which it launched during the 2013 Sun Valley Film Festival. The winner will study wildlife filmmaking in Africa, courtesy of National Geographic, the African Wildlife Foundation and SVFF.

In addition to the scores of screenings, SVFF's real showstoppers are the so-called "coffee talks," featuring inside-the-velvet-rope conversations with Oscar-winning and -nominated filmmakers, including screenwriter David Seidler (The King's Speech); the writing team of Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club); and Academy Award-nominated producers Ron Yerxa (Little Miss Sunshine, Nebraska) and Jim Burke (The Descendants).

There will also be a public table-read of a work-in-progress script, featuring actors Will McCormack (Syriana), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Peter Cambor (NCIS) and Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project, True Detective).

A new addition to the SVFF lineup is something called conTent--a panel discussion hosted by Wired magazine Executive Editor Jason Tanz, that will explore digital entertainment and will feature a special screening of Mitt, the much-buzzed-about Netflix documentary chronicling the failed presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. Mitt director Greg Whiteley will be on hand for the discussion.

Away from the screenings, SVFF will also play host to two major social events: an opening night party at Whiskey Jacques Thursday, March 13, featuring Dinosaur Jr. frontman J. Mascis, and a Saturday, March 15, awards bash also at Whiskey Jacques, featuring Nashville-based Those Darlins.