Book Thief to open Mill Valley film fest

“The Book Thief,” a drama about a girl who is able to lift the spirits of a Jewish boy hiding from the Nazis, will open the Mill Valley Film Festival on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Based on Markus Zusak’s 2007 bestseller, the film features Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and the young Sophie Nélisse as 9-year-old Liesel. Taken in by a couple in 1938 near Munich, she is taught to read and love books by her foster father, Hans Hubermann. Young Max, a Jewish refugee whom the family hides in the basement, asks Liesel to describe the outside world — and from there her talent as a storyteller grows.

“The Book Thief” screens at 7 p.m. at Century Cinema, 41 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Following the screening, director Brian Percival, a 2011 Emmy winner for his directing work on “Downton Abbey,” along with actors Rush and Nélisse, will be present at a gala at 9:30 p.m. at the nearby Corte Madera Town Center.

Another film with Jewish interest is “Zaytoun,” about a Palestinian boy and a wounded Israeli fighter pilot who navigate war-torn 1982 Lebanon to return to their homeland. Directed by Eran Riklis (“Lemon Tree,” 2008), the film is in English, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles. “Zaytoun” is presented in association with the Israel Center in San Francisco and with support from the Israeli Consulate.

“Zaytoun” screens 3:15 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Ciné[email protected], 25 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, and 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael.

“The Dandelions” (“Du vent dans mes mollets”), meanwhile, follows Rachel — whose ninth birthday party is quickly approaching — and her family: her neurotic Jewish mother, quiet father and sickly grandmother. The French film (with English subtitles) screens 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at CinéArts, and 11:45 a.m. Oct  13 at the Rafael Film Center.

The festival runs Oct. 3-13. For more information, visit