Virginia Film Festival announces 2014 schedule
The 2014 Virginia Film Festival lineup will return to Charlottesville fromNovember 6-9, highlighted by a diverse program array of more than 100 films and a stellar lineup of special guests highlighted by Hal Holbrook, Jenna Elfman, Frank Langella, Patrick Wilson, Barry Levinson, Katie Couric, Richard Roundtree, and Jasmine Guy.
“Once again this year, I think we have an incredibly strong program of films that entertain and engage us in addition to inspiring important dialog around the issues we face every single day,” said Jody Kielbasa, Director of the Virginia Film Festival and Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia. “We are thrilled to welcome an extraordinary lineup of special guests who include all-time acting and directing greats, some of today’s most talented actors, leading cultural figures and personalities, and the largest collection of filmmakers we have ever brought in for the Festival.”
Opening Night Film: Big Stone Gap
This year’s Virginia Film Festival will officially kick off on Thursday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m. with the World Premiere ofBig Stone Gap, filmed on location in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and based on the popular series of books by noted author and Big Stone Gap native Adriana Trigiani. The film stars Ashley Judd as the small town’s self-appointed middle-age spinster who keeps countless secrets before discovering one of her own that will change her life forever. The Festival is excited to welcome Big Stone Gap screenwriter and director, bestselling author Adriana Trigiani, along with cast members Patrick Wilson, Jenna Elfman, and Jasmine Guy. “We are thrilled to be able to share this world premiere of a film that was made in Virginia,” Kielbasa said, “by Big Stone Gap native Adriana Trigiani, and a film that so wonderfully celebrates the Commonwealth’s unique spirit and natural beauty. It all combines to make this a perfect choice for our opening night, and we are looking forward to a truly special evening.”
Centerpiece Film: 5 to 7
The Festival’s primetime Saturday evening slot has long been home to exciting new films, and the tradition continues this year with 5 to 7, the tale of a “cinq-a-sept” romance, and love’s power to conquer even the most insurmountable of obstacles. The film will be followed by a discussion with special guest Frank Langella, who will be joined by the film’s director Victor Levin along with U.Va. grad Julie Lynn and her Mockingbird Pictures partner Bonnie Curtis, producers of the film.
Closing Night Film: Dead Poets Society
The Virginia Film Festival will offer a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most iconic films of the last quarter century as it celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Dead Poets Society. The screening will be followed by a discussion with its producer, U.Va. alum Paul Junger Witt, and its screenwriter Tom Schulman, who won an Academy Award® for the film. Dead Poets Society, which has won over generations of fans since premiering in 1989, has further increased in popularity recently due to the tragic loss of Robin Williams, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance as transformative teacher John Keating.
Special Event – Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!
The VFF is proud to welcome one of America’s most treasured actors, Hal Holbrook, who will give a live theatrical performance of his signature one-man-show Mark Twain Tonight! at The Paramount Theater on Friday evening. Then, on Saturday afternoon, the 89-year-old actor will join director Scott Teems to present the acclaimed documentaryHolbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey. Holbrook first played Mark Twain as part of an honors project at Denison University after World War II. Today it is perhaps the longest-running show in theatre history. This year marks his 60thconsecutive year performing Mark Twain Tonight!, for which he won a Tony® Award. In 2014, Holbrook will give his 2,298th performance in the role, and continues to change the show, mining over 20 hours of material to fit the times.
Barry Levinson – The Natural and The Humbling
Barry Levinson, one of the most popular directors of the modern movie era thanks to hit films including Diner, Rain Man,Bugsy, Good Morning Vietnam, and others, will come to the Festival for the first time to present a 25th Anniversary screening of The Natural on Sunday at The Paramount Theater. In addition, Levinson will offer a sneak peek at his latest directorial effort, The Humbling, which stars Al Pacino.
Katie Couric – Fed Up
University of Virginia grad Katie Couric returns to her alma mater to present and discuss this powerful documentary on America’s runaway childhood obesity epidemic. Couric narrates the film, which she co-executive produced with Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth). Fed Up features interviews with food and nutrition experts and heartbreaking first-person interviews with children on its way to taking on the powerful “Big Sugar” lobby and questioning many of the basic “truths” we have been told about food and nutrition for the past 30 years.
Buzzard – Director Joel Potrykus will present his dark comedy about a horror metal slacker who flees a dead end temp job to hide out in a friend’s basement, armed with a pile of pilfered bogus checks and a nasty temper.
Dumb and Dumber To – Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey are back…and dumber than ever…in this sequel that picks up twenty years from the time we first met their dimwitted duo, and the boys are on a quest to find their long lost children in hopes of finding a kidney.
Fishing Without Nets – This affecting film from director Cutter Hodierne won Best Director honors at Sundance this year and tells the story of a young Somali pirate from the perspective of the pirates themselves.
Foxcatcher – This powerful psychological drama tells the true story of John duPont, chillingly played by Steve Carell, a deeply troubled man who lures Olympic hopeful wrestler Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum) to live and train with him. It was a move that would have tragic repercussions.
Hellion – Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul stars in this disturbing, powerful and authentic story about a fractured family’s response to a 13-year-old boy’s spiraling out of control. The film, directed by Kat Candler, was one of the most talked-about films at Sundance this year.
The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch is earning significant Oscar talk as mathematician Alan Turing whose status as a war hero, earned by leading a team that cracked the German Enigma Code and shortened World War II, is destroyed by revelations about his personal lifestyle and the unenlightened reactions of his countrymen.
Low Down –Directed by Jeff Preiss, the film looks at the life of celebrated jazz pianist Joe Albany through the eyes of his young daughter Amy Jo Albany, who wrote the memoir recounting his battle with a drug addiction in the 1970’s and 80’s on which the film is based.
Mommy – Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s emotionally-charged story of a widowed single mom trying to manage her explosive 15-year-old ADHD son and a neighbor whose unexpected support adds an unexpected sense of stability, and ultimately, hope, to their lives. The film shared the 2014 Jury Prize at Cannes with Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language, which will also be featured at the VFF this year.
Mr. Turner – Filmmaker Mike Leigh turns his unblinking and improvisational focus to the last 25 years of eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner, whose complicated life and relationships make him at once loved and reviled by the art world, the public, and royalty.
Shaft – Part of a larger tribute to the famed photographer and film director Gordon Parks, this special screening of the film that introduced true cool to the 70’s will be followed by a discussion with its star, Richard Roundtree.
Wild – Reese Witherspoon is earning significant Oscar® buzz for her performance as author Cheryl Strayed, who sets out on a grueling thousand-plus-mile hike along the Pacific Trail in an attempt to heal herself from the loss of her mother, a divorce, and years of self-destructive behavior.
Alive Inside – This stirring film follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.
All Fall Down – Filmmaker Emily Topper looks back at her family’s complex reaction to her grandfather’s violent murder in Baltimore in 1972 in a first-person, close-to-the-bone treatment of the incident and its racially-charged aftermath. The film will be presented by its executive producer, VFF Advisory Board Member Ron Yerxa.
Gray Matters – Marco Orsini’s captivating documentary presents the story of Eileen Gray, the 20th century artist whose vision, imagination, and sensibility changed the way we live with furniture and within houses.
The Hip Hop Fellow – This film follows the Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard University as he teaches ‘The Standards of Hip Hop’ course, conducts research for his thesis, and explores hip-hop’s history, culture and role in academia.
How I Got Over – Filmmaker Nicole Boxer’s moving film follows 15 formerly homeless and/or incarcerated women as they craft an original play, based on their harrowing life stories, to be performed one-night only at The Kennedy Center.
Out in the Night – Blair Dorosh-Walther tells the story of four young African-American lesbians in New York City fight back when they are sexually threatened by a man on the street, then are tried and convicted in the courts and the media as a ‘Gang of Killer Lesbians.’
This Time Next Year – Director Jeff Reichert (who screened his documentary Remote Area Medical at the Festival in 2013), returns with co-director Farihah Zaman to present this moving look at the devastation Hurricane Sandy brought to Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
Spotlight on Virginia Filmmaking
“It seems like each year we receive more films, and more impressive films, that highlight Virginia filmmaking, and by that I mean films that were either made in Virginia, or by filmmakers with distinct Virginia ties or roots,” said VFF Programmer Wesley Harris. “This year’s crop of Virginia films was exceptionally strong, and we are proud to be able to highlight their work.”
This year’s Virginia Filmmaking lineup includes:
A Winding Stream – This music-filled documentary traces the influential musical and personal arc of the legendary Carter family from, their early days in Southwestern Virginia to their famed intersection with Johnny Cash and their efforts to add to their musical legacy today.
Big Moccasin – Directed by Virginia native Andrew Moynehan and Chelsea Moynehan, the film explores the meaning of life in the mountains, from the varied perspectives of the individual characters to the universal, unified knowledge and love for the mountain way of life.
Big Significant Things – Director Bryan Reisberg’s road trip movie earned raves at SXSW, and focuses on what happens when a man lies to his girlfriend in order to take a southern road trip that culminates right here in the Commonwealth.
From Grain to Growler – A documentary focusing on the explosion of the craft beer culture in Virginia.
Goodish – Filmmaker Amanda Patterson’s story of a couple who take their previously platonic relationship physical only to face up to an interrogation by prying friends that makes them wonder if their friendship will ever be the same.
Hot Air – A special work-in-progress screening of the new film Hot Air by Charlottesville filmmaker Derek Sieg and producing partner Jeremy Goldstein.
Wish You Well – Bestselling author David Baldacci will present and discuss this adaptation of his 1940’s coming of age story about a young girl who moves with her brother from New York to a Virginia farm following a family tragedy and discovers truths about her family and herself in the process.
Library of Congress Series
For the fourth year, the Festival is partnering with the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia to present a series of films celebrating the National Film Registry. This year’s lineup includes Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb , which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year; Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree ; and Shaft , which honor Parks and his legacy in American cinema and photography; Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant (1917); and The Wizard of Oz , the quintessential musical fantasy film which will be the screened as part of our Family Day festivities this year.
Las Maestras de la Republica (Spain) – Director Pilar Pérez Solano’s acclaimed documentary celebrates a group of women in Spain who bravely fought to bring down the walls between male and female students, only to have their efforts destroyed by the Civil War that started in 1936.
20,000 Days on Earth (Great Britain) – Writer and musician Nick Cave marks his 20,000 day on the planet.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Iran) – In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
Babadook (Australia) – This gripping modern suspense thriller tells of a single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, who battles with her son’s night time fear of a shadowy monster. But soon, she discovers a sinister presence is lurking in the house.
Futuro Beach (Brazil/Germany) – Short after facing the failure of an attempt to rescue a drowning man, Donato meets Konrad, friend of the victim. Motivated by the circumstances, Donato decides to begin a new life in Berlin, but pieces of his past are coming after him.
Girlhood (France) – A complex look at the America’s justice system, the film follows two female inmates – victims of horrific violence and tragedy who are serving time in a Maryland juvenile detention center.
Level Five (France) – From filmmaker Chris Marker, whose Le Joli Mai was a favorite of last year’s VFF, comes Level Five, comes this story of a video game designer and his work on a WW II themed project. The film was first released in 1997, and is just now available for the first time in the United States.
Poison Pen (Ireland) – From writer Irish writer Eoin Colfer of the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl book series comes this frothy tale of a washed up author forced to join the ranks of common gossip writers.
Run Boy Run (Germany/Poland) – The film tells the true story of 9-year-old Jurek, who escapes from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 and learns to survive in the nearby woods until the end of the war.
What We Do in the Shadows (New Zealand) – This dark comedy follows the lives of three roommates just trying to deal with typical life challenges – like being immortal vampires with an insatiable thirst for human blood. The film featuresFlight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement.
U.Va. Center for Politics
This year, the VFF and the Center for Politics are continuing their annual collaboration with a special screening of Bombs Away: LBJ, Goldwater and the 1964 Campaign That Changed It All. This documentary, produced by the Center for Politics in conjunction with WCVE-TV, focuses on the pivotal 1964 presidential election between Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater, and particularly on the negative campaign advertisements that many feel set the stage for the hyper-partisanship that defines American politics today. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with guests including Barry Goldwater, Jr.
The Presidency in Film Series
The Festival is again partnering with the Miller Center at the University of Virginia to examine the way Chief Executives are portrayed on the silver screen – this time with a trio of films. Frost/Nixon focuses on the famous Nixon interviews with talk show host and news personality David Frost and features Frank Langella in a memorable performance as Nixon. Langella will be on hand for a post-screening discussion with noted Nixon expert Ken Hughes of the Miller Center. 41 on 41 is a fascinating CNN documentary focusing on George H.W. Bush as a President, husband, father, grandfather and friend, in stories told by those closest to him. Joining in the panel discussion following the film will be former George H.W. Bush and Reagan Press Secretary Marlon Fitzwater and Andy Card, who served under 41 as Transportation Secretary before serving as Chief of Staff in the George W. Bush administration.
The Festival will present a special series of five films as part of the University of Virginia’s Berlin Wall Symposium, a week-long multidisciplinary exploration of the 25th Anniversary of the historic fall of the Berlin Wall. The series will include Dr. Strangelove and 41 on 41 in addition to the compelling new documentary Red Army. The film captures the compelling on and off-the-ice drama of the Soviet hockey dynasty through the story of its legendary captain Slava Fetisov, and how the team’s rise and fall mirrors that of the Soviet Union itself. The series will also include Walesa: Man of Hope, legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda’s biopic tracing the rise of Nobel Prize-winner Lech Walesa ‘s Solidarity Movement in the 1970’s and the peaceful revolution he helped inspire; and Wim Wenders 1987 romantic fantasy Wings of Desire.
Family Day returns to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds on Saturday, November 8 with a day-long celebration for all ages, highlighted by a special 75th Anniversary screening of The Wizard of Oz at Culbreth Theatre at 10:00 a.m. A series of free film-inspired workshops will be offered throughout the day, led by U.Va. faculty, students and community organizations. Topics will include audition techniques, dance routines, make-up application and improv fun. Space is limited, and registration is available at www.virginiafilmfestival.org/workshops.
The musicians from the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia will return to Family Day this year for a “Musical Instrument Petting Zoo” at the Helms Theatre. The afternoon will bring an outdoor Interactive Arts Festival, including performance featuring U.Va. a cappella and improv groups.
And in what has become a Family Day highlight, more than 600 local students will flock to the Arts Grounds for their own red carpet moments as the Festival screens the films from its Young Filmmakers Academy in Campbell Hall.
Adding to the fun this year will be an opportunity to stop by The Fralin Museum of Art to see how Charlottesville –area youth interpret the work of Gordon Parks in film.
All Family Day events are free and open to the public, and feature complimentary and convenient parking at the Culbreth Road Garage.
School Screening – Freedom Summer
More than 1,000 local and regional middle and high school students will pack the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for the Performing Arts this year for a special screening of the documentary Freedom Summer. The film, from director Stanley Nelson, chronicles 10 memorable weeks in 1964 known as “Freedom Summer,” when more than 700 student volunteers teamed with organizers and African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states. Following the film, students will hear and participate in a panel discussion that will include legendary civil rights leader Julian Bond and be moderated by Deborah McDowell, Alice Griffin Professor in the Department of English at University of Virginia, and Director of the Carter Woodson Institute.
Digital Media Gallery
The Digital Media Gallery returns to Second Street Gallery, inside the City Center or Contemporary Arts, where it will feature video projection art and experimental films by students from acclaimed filmmaker and University of Virginia Associate Professor Art Kevin Everson’s intermediate and advanced cinematography students and from local students from the award-winning Light House Studio. The DMG will officially open with a First Friday reception on Friday, November 7 at 5:30 p.m. and will remain open through the month of November. It is free and open to the public; made possible by generous support from the University of Virginia Arts Council and The AV Company; and is part of the Virginia Film Festival’s Community Outreach & Education Program.
Adrenaline Film Project
Since its launch in 2003, the Adrenaline Film Project has become an annual highlight and audience favorite at the VFF, bringing together 10-12 teams of three filmmakers to write, cast, shoot, edit, and screen their films in only 72 hours. Acclaimed filmmaker and Charlottesville native Jeff Wadlow will once again head a veteran mentor team that includes Charlottesville filmmaker Derek Sieg and noted acting coach Leigh Kilton-Smith. Mentors closely supervise each stage of production, and the process culminates in a competitive screening and award ceremony in front of a live audience at Culbreth Theatre on Saturday, November 8 at 9:00 p.m.
Parties and Events
The 27th Annual Virginia Film Festival offers plenty of reasons to celebrate, and some great ways to do it! Highlights of this year’s parties and events include:
- 2014 Opening Night Gala – Thursday, November 6
The Jefferson Theater, Downtown Mall – doors open at 9:00 p.m. (21 and over event)
Come celebrate the utter “Virginia-ness” of it all as we toast the Festival launch following the World Premiere of Big Stone Gap at the Paramount. Enjoy beverages, light buffet refreshments, and big-band music while mixing and mingling with special guests and VFF friends and supporters. Tickets for the Opening Night Gala are $75.00 per person.
- Late Night Wrap Party – Saturday, November 8
Main Street Arena, Downtown Mall – 10:00 p.m. (21 and over event)
Nothing says “it’s a wrap” quite like this annual highlight – the perfect place to connect with filmmakers, special guests and fellow Festival fans! Tickets to the Late Night Wrap Party are $35.00.
For a full schedule and complete information regarding the Virginia Film Festival, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org. Tickets will go on sale Friday, October 10 via that website, in-person at the U.Va. Arts Box Office (at Culbreth Theatre), and via phone at 434-924-3376. Press images are also available at www.flickr.com/photos/virginiafilmfestival/.
The 2014 Virginia Film Festival is generously supported by the following Premiere Sponsors: The AV Company, The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation (Richard M. Ader and Joseph Erdman, Trustees), Regal Entertainment Group, the Virginia Film Office, and Wells Fargo.