The little film festival that could

For a festival with a small budget in a small town, the Mill Valley Film Festival is a veritable giant among its peers worldwide.

Announced Tuesday, the lineup of the 31st festival, which runs Oct. 2 to Oct. 12, will feature more than 200 movies from 50 countries, including six world premieres, six North American premieres and an astonishing 18 U.S. premieres.

Notable among these firsts: Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky,” Denise Zmekhol’s “Children of the Amazon” and an Iranian-Japanese production from Abolfazl Jalili called “Hafez.”

Opening the festival is Larry Charles’ “Religulous,” about comedian Bill Maher’s series of shows aimed at debunking organized religion, and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Secret Life of Bees,” featuring Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and Dakota Fanning.

The closing film is a tribute to the actress Alfre Woodard with “American Violet” and the Israeli film “Lemon Tree,” about the relationship between two women, one Israeli, the other Palestinian.

A full schedule for the festival will be posted online at www.mvff.com.

Among festival-related activities, there will be a multimedia Ingmar Bergman exhibit, opening Oct. 10 in the Smith Rafael Film Center, dealing with the work of the Swedish director generally considered among the greatest filmmakers in history. One Bergman regular, actress Harriet Andersson (“Smiles of a Summer Night” and “Cries and Whispers”) will be honored at the festival in person, with an onstage interview and dinner reception.

A Children’s FilmFest, running Oct. 4 to Oct. 11, will offer daytime screenings of movies of special interest for young viewers, including “Nocturna” and “Terra.”

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