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October 5, 2005 7:17 AM
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"Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "The Matador" Open Mill Valley Fest

A scene from Richard Shepard's "The Matador," which will open the Mill Valley Film Festival Thursday along with Stephen Frears' "Mrs. Henderson Presents."

The Mill Valley Film Festival will present more than 200 films from 55 countries as part of its 2005 lineup. Stephen Frears's "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and Richard Shepard's "The Matador" will kick off the 28th edition of the festival, which runs Thursday, October 6 - 16 in Mill Valley and San Rafael, Calif.


The musical comedy "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is based on the true story of a woman, played by Dame Judi Dench, who opens a theater featuring an all-nude revue prior to the start of WWII. In "The Matador," Pierce Brosnan is a hit man who begins an unlikely friendship with a businessman (Greg Kinnear) whom he encounters in Mexico City.


Twenty-seven narrative films and documentaries will make their world or U.S. premieres. Among them are Jonathan Parker's "The Californians," an adaptation of a Henry James novel, and Marc Rothemund's biographical "Sophie Scholl: The Last Days," about a young German who resists the Nazi Party. Other festival highlights include Niki Caro's ("Whale Rider") "North Country," starring Charlize Theron, and Anand Tucker's "Shopgirl," based on Steve Martin's novella of the same name.


Directors Michael Powell ("The Red Shoes") and Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Amelie") and actors Donald Sutherland ("M*A*S*H") and Jeff Daniels ("The Squid and the Whale") will be honored at the festival.


Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale" as well as Scott McGehee and David Siegel's "Bee Season" will close the festival. "Squid," inspired by Baumbach's childhood in Park Slope, Brooklyn, tells the coming-of-age story of two brothers going through the divorce of their parents, played by Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney. In "Bee Season," starring Juliette Binoche and Richard Gere, a young girl prepares for the National Spelling Bee while witnessing the collapse of her parents' marriage.


For a full listing of films, including documentaries and the lineups for V(ision) Fest and the Children's Film Fest, please visit the festival website.

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