November 25

Napa Valley Film Fest – Day 4!

Here we are at day 4 of the Napa Valley Film Festival. As much as I love drinking, dancing, parties, film screenings and talking to filmmakers, I am beginning to realize that being a member of the press is a little bit of work. Okay, nothing like the utility linemen out there that keep our electricity running after earthquakes, blizzards and hurricanes but…Okay, wait…never mind. When I compare it to what these men and women do, itlife on the line logo is not really like work at all. This is probably the largest group of workers that get the least recognition than anyone else out there. I know when I see them up in their big buckets all I ever think of is how much fun it would be to be up in one of those things. Never about the fact that they are out in every kind of inclement weather no matter what time of day or night it is! This is also one of the top 10 most dangerous professions based on fatalities. Can you imagine choosing this as your career? I can’t! Between 30 and 50 workers in every 100,000 are killed on the job every year! This statistic doesn’t even include the non-fatal injuries that also affect their lives. These courageous few have a fatality rate that is more than twice the fatality rate of police officers and firemen and are the true first responders. The last time that these men and women were recognized was 78 years ago by Henry Fonda and Pat O’Brien in the film Slim The Lineman (CLICK HERE to see the 1937 trailer!).

linemen photo
John Travolta, Devon Sawa, screenwriter Chad Dubea with local PG&E linemen on the red carpet!

As I spoke to the actors and producers that were responsible for bringing this story, Life On The Line, to the Napa Valley Film Festival world premiere, I began to see a pattern of responses on why they got involved. It was time to acknowledge the very hard and dangerous work these folks do that allows me to write my blog in my well-lit and warm home and you to read it!

Life On The Line stars John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone and is a tale of lineman Beau (John Travolta) who has raised his niece (Kate Bosworth) after her father, who was also a lineman, was killed on the job. There were many subplots that included PTSD, stalking, pregnancy, rape and murder. Oh yeah, and a huge storm! Very melodramatic! Screenwriter, Chad Dubea, who was a former utility lineman, was able to write this story, find financial backing, producers and John Travolta to bring this story to life. fallen linemen logoChad also spent a quarter of a million dollars to establish the non-profit Fallen Linemen Organization. The organization’s mission is to memorialize fallen line workers and offer financial and moral support to the families you have lost a loved one in the line of duty. They also assist if a lineman has been severely injured. But most importantly, they consolidate all accident and injury information to create a safer working environment so these injuries and deaths don’t happen in the first place! These men and women work under completely unforgiving conditions, in extreme weather, dressed in fire-resistant clothes including rubber gloves, must have physical stamina and a vast amount of knowledge. These skills take years to master, so great movie or not, try to honor all – those who have fallen as well as those that work every day to keep our lights on for us – by supporting the movie or donating to the Fallen Linemen Organization. This movie definitely opened my eyes and my heart to these overlooked linemen!

CLICK HERE to listen to John Travolta and Kelly Preston discuss what John T (204x288)attracted him to the role of Beau and what it was like to film Life On The Line.

Devon Sawa discusses his role and why he got involved in the film. CLICK HERE Devon Sawa

Producers Marvin Peart and Phillip Glasser talk about how they got involved! CLICK HERE

After the lights came up and the closing credits had rolled, I snuck out of the Q&A to head upvalley to beautiful Calistoga for another screening. I finally had the time to check out a movie that had more of an indie feel and wasn’t full of movie stars. The movie Crushed is about a troubled Crushedyoung woman who returns to her family vineyard after her father dies on the property. Only to find out that he was murdered! The big draw for me was that the film was set in wine country. Though the film was shot in Mudgee, New South Wales in Australia, winemaking is winemaking no matter where the grapes are grown. It was also my first visit to the newly completed Cairdean Estate. Calistoga’s newest wine and food village with stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains. It was the perfect way to end my final red carpet experience!

A big thanks to all of you who are reading my blog and following Napa Valley Vegan on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. I hope you are enjoying the film festival as much as I did and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

November 21

Napa Valley Film Festival – Days 2 and 3

Gala overview

Day 2 – The Festival Gala! You may remember me mentioning that the Napa Valley Film Festival knows how to throw great parties. My favorite has always been the annual Gala. It is one of the biggest parties I have ever attended and is a continuous onslaught of food, wine, cocktails, celebrities and live music! This year was absolutely no exception. Learning that it was going to be held at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, I struggled to envision it. I should have known better than to worry about it with the film festival in charge of the party planning. The evening began with a walk along the red carpet with everyone dressed in their cocktail attire and looking glamorous!

Me in my best looks! Vegan clothes from head to toes!

I’ve never seen the Center lobby look this stunning! Filmmakers, actors and directors were mingling with the crowd. Along with over 30 different culinary options there were 50 vintners, a cigar lounge, 10 live music performances throughout the evening, Stella Artois beer & cidre, and artisanal cocktails served at the Clever Root Bar. And the gorgeous Von Saal Lounge offered drinking and dancing on the Center’s stage! This year, hands down, offered the most vegan-friendly options since the Festival began. All of the previous years were very meat-centric. Of course, there was still plenty of meat being served but this year they had almost a half dozen vegan and vegetarian choices. All they had to do was make the nibbles without the cheese and voila’ – vegan! Surprisingly, Cole’s Chop House was my first stop. I did not expect this classic American steakhouse to offer anything vegetarian, let along vegan, but they had a delicious fruit chutney served on a crostini and were happy to make us a couple without the cheese. I always have to remember to never make assumptions! My next stop was at Azzuro Pizza’s table. Yet again, I was pleasantly surprised. They made several crostinis heaped with butternut squash & a drizzle of oil. They were simple and incredible! Lindt chocolate was giving away full sized chocolate bars so I slipped a couple of their dairy-free dark chocolate into my handbag! As I wandered through this incredible playground for the 21 and older crowd with a glass of wine in my hand, I next had some delish hummus & veggies from Tarla’s Mediterranean Bar + Grill. As I wandered past Napkin’s Bar + Grill table, I noticed huge bowls of chips, guacamole and tomatillo sauce. Vegans score again! My final, and probably favorite, find at the Gala was a fig and macadamia nut crostini, offered by Celadon. It was amazing!

As recently as last year, I was considering not attending the Gala anymore because of how incredibly unfriendly its food choices were. In fact, they actually carted a slaughtered pig through the lobby of the Copia and roasted him for all to eat. Even living in a non-vegan world, I was horrified by the total disregard the other party goers showed and that the Festival planners thought that was a good idea. I am so glad that the tides have turned and attitudes are becoming more open to offering some compassionate choices! The food aside, it is a party that should not be missed!

Day 3 – Celebrity Tribute

Emilie de Ravin dressed for the Gala!
Emilie de Ravin dressed for the Gala!

Day 3, I was back to work on the red carpet. Every year the Festival honors actors for their achievements and creative innovation. This year, they honored Bruce Dern for his long and distinguished career. John Travolta was also honored for his many contributions to the film industry. Keegan-Michael Key was honored with the Trailblazer Award to for his diverse skills and wide-ranging talent. Rising Star honorees included Finn Wittrock, Evan Peters. Lydia Hearst and Zoe Kazan.

Keegan-Michael Key tribute official
Keegan-Michael Key on the red carpet!

You know me…I couldn’t be easy and ask about their career or what projects they were working on. Instead, I found out some wonderful little gems about each of them. I was a bit disappointed that Bruce Dern could not attend the Tribute since he is such an avid and life-long animal rights activist. But I did learn that Lydia Hearst helped design vegan handbags for Puma a few years ago and her cousin Amanda through the organization Friends of Finn raids puppy mills and gives these dogs and puppies a second chance. CLICK HERE to see the interview! Finn Wittrock recently did a photo shoot with dogs for an animal welfare campaign that is helping get dogs into forever homes. In the midst of this he also adopted a dog! CLICK to check out his comments! Evan Peters also adopted a dog a couple years ago instead of buying from a breeder or pet store. CLICK HERE to see the

Evan & Lydia2
Lydia Hearst & Evan Peters talking to the media!

interview! And most exciting of all was when I asked John Travolta if he would consider going vegan to prepare for a role and he said yes! In fact, his good friend Forest Whitaker, who was a long time vegetarian before becoming vegan, is so enthusiastic about his diet that John is tempted to give it a try. And though Kelly Preston admits to eating everything, she not only raved about some of the delicious vegan meals she has had but told me that I was glowing! How cool is that?! CLICK HERE to see what they had to say! Though I haven’t followed John Travolta’s career much since Pulp Fiction, I will always have a place in my heart for him. When I was in fourth grade, I got to go to the movie theater with a big group of kids and Moms to see Grease. Grease was the first movie that I had ever gone to that was for adults. Not a cartoon, not a Disney movie…a real live film! I had also never seen a musical before. But once they started singing and dancing, I was hooked forever! And even at 9 years old, I thought Sandi and Danny made a beautiful couple! So for that, John, I will always be a fan!

Finn Wittrock on his way in to the Tribute!
Finn Wittrock on his way into the Tribute!

Here we are with 3 days down and 2 more to go. Be prepared for more screenings, filmmaker Q&As and one more red carpet! And as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

November 20

Napa Valley Film Fest 2015 – Somms on Film!

Here are the videos of my amazing experience interviewing the Sommeliers and winemakers at the world premiere screening of Somm: Into The Bottle at the opening night of the Napa Valley Film Festival 2015. This was absolutely my favorite red carpet experience. The sommeliers and winemakers were incredibly engaged and gave answers that were uncensored and came from the heart. I hope you enjoy  viewing these short videos as much as I enjoyed making them!

interviewing Geoff

 

CLICK HERE to view my conversation with Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth!

interviewing director

CLICK HERE to see director Jason Wise and writer/producer/wife Christina Wise discussing their film!

Brian McClintic

 

CLICK HERE to see what Master Sommelier Brian McClintic has to say about wine, sustainability, Pearl Jam and his love for Patti LaBelle!

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CLICK HERE to see Master Sommelier Ian Cauble and his girlfriend Mercedes discuss the importance of organic & biodynamic wines!

Fred Dame
Master Fred Dame

 

CLICK HERE as Master Sommelier Fred Dame discusses his interest in pairing vegan food and wine!

 

CLICK HERE to view Steve Matthiasson as he discusses his vegan-friendly wines!

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CLICK HERE to view Sommelier and author Kelli White discuss the importance of transparency in wine ingredients!  

Thanks for watching and always remember to eat, drink…and be vegan!