Virginia Film Festival Announced

Includes "Mercy Street" preview and Richmond film artists Rick Alverson and Devin Druid.

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Opening night film at the 28th Virginia Film Festival features "I Saw The Light," the Hank Williams biopic starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen.
  • Opening night film at the 28th Virginia Film Festival features "I Saw The Light," the Hank Williams biopic starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen.

And the winner for biggest press release so far this week? The Virginia Film Festival and it's announcement of the 28th annual festival to be held Nov. 5 through 8 in Charlottesville. Should be a nice little fall weekend getaway -- and the real good news? Some rising Richmond film artists are in the fray.

There's over 100 films and guests including Meg Ryan, who will present her feature "Ithaca" shot in Virginia, as well as director Oliver Stone, veteran critic Leonard Maltin and noted writer and activist Larry Kramer.

Devin Druid, the talented young actor from Richmond, will also be there to speak after his big Cannes favorite, "Louder Than Bombs" -- where he was named a breakout star for his performance alongside Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network"). The film screens on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 1:00 pm, with discussion to follow. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Oct. 2.

Here's the trailer which features Druid.

Druid's mother tells me via email that her son is currently having a great time filming "Imperium" locally with Daniel Radcliffe.

"Everyone is lovely. Seth Numrich, from 'TURN' [and our current cover feature] is also in the film, as are Tracy Letts and Toni Colette," his mom tells me via e-mail. "Devin's little brother, Aidan Fiske, also landed a smaller supporting role and will have a scene with Daniel."

Also, Richmond filmmaker Rick Alverson will be there to present his acclaimed new film, "Entertainment," starring Gregg Turkington, otherwise known as comedian Neil Hamburger.

Another spotlight screening that should be highly anticipated is Todd Haynes' "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett.

Some other highlights from the fest include the opening night film, the Hank Williams biopic "I Saw The Light" starring Tom Hiddleston and a sneak preview of the new PBS Civil War drama "Mercy Street" which is being shot locally.

Put your comfy pants on, pull up a chair. Here's the full release and schedule:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – September 29, 2015 – The Virginia Film Festival returns to Charlottesville for its 28th year from November 5-8 with a collection of more than 100 films ranging from highly-anticipated first-run features to compelling documentaries as well as new works by the industry’s most exciting up-and-coming filmmakers and outstanding films from around the world, and right here in Virginia.

The Virginia Film Festival is presented by the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.

This year’s guest list will be highlighted by actor Meg Ryan with her directorial debut Ithaca, filmed in Virginia; legendary director Oliver Stone; noted writer and activist Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart); celebrated film critic and historian Leonard Maltin; Emmy Award®-winning actor Cherry Jones; actor Scott Haze in his directorial debut documentary Mully, along with Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll; actor Maddie Hasson; and cast members from the upcoming filmed-in-Virginia PBS Civil War dramatic series Mercy Street, including Norbert Leo Butz (Bloodline); Tara Summers (Boston Legal), and Central Virginia native Hannah James.

“This year’s Virginia Film Festival will offer audiences an incredibly strong program of films that once again run the gamut of cinematic experiences. We are thrilled to welcome back Oliver Stone for a conversation about his extraordinary Academy Award-winning film Born on the Fourth of July. We are honored to be hosting Meg Ryan in celebration of her directorial debut and are looking forward to showcasing another Virginia production, the new PBS Civil War dramatic series Mercy Street. And we are honored to welcome the Tony® and Emmy® -winning writer and LGBT activist Larry Kramer, who has for decades stopped at nothing to help gay men and women literally fight for their lives.”

Along with the headline names, Kielbasa said, comes a reaffirmed commitment to cinematic discovery. “We have, as always, focused on creating a program that is as deep and broad as the interests and passions of our unique VFF audiences, and have further expanded our efforts to share new voices and talents with our audiences by bringing in a wide array of emerging filmmakers working across a vast landscape of genres, styles, and topics.”

Opening Night Film: "I Saw the Light"

Opening the 2015 Festival, on Thursday, November 5 at 7:00 PM, will be I Saw the Light, the Hank Williams film from director Marc Abraham that chronicles the country music legend’s meteoric rise to fame and its tragic consequences on a life cut short at the age of only 29. The film stars Tom Hiddleston in the lead role and Elizabeth Olsen as Williams’ wife Audrey Mae, and is directed by Marc Abraham, a University of Virginia alumnus and VFF Advisory Board member. Marc will be on hand to present the film along with cast members including theater legend and Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Cherry Jones, and rising Hollywood star Maddie Hasson, who plays Williams’ second wife and widow. “We are delighted to share this film with our audiences,” Kielbasa said “and to celebrate a University of Virginia alumnus and his film, which shines a light on the incredible legacy and troubled life of one of America’s most renowned musical figures.”

Centerpiece Film: "The Lady in the Van"

The legendary Maggie Smith stars in this funny, poignant, and life-affirming true story about an elderly woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked in the London driveway of acclaimed writer Alan Bennett (History Boys) …and proceeded to stay for 15 years. The film is directed by longtime Bennett collaborator Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George), and also stars Alex Jennings and Jim Broadbent.

Closing Night Film: Son of Saul

Hungarian director László Nemes’ astonishing directorial debut created an international sensation when it captured the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film offers a raw and rarely-seen first-person perspective on the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust through the story of a Jewish prisoner and Sonderkommando worker forced to work in a Nazi crematorium. When the man comes across the body of a boy he takes to be his son, he embarks on the impossible task of saving the body from the flames, finding a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish, and offering the boy a proper burial.

"Ithaca" – Featuring Special Guest Meg Ryan

The famed actor’s directorial debut, filmed in Virginia, tells the story of a 14-year-old boy in 1942 working as a bike messenger to deliver messages of love, hope, pain…and death, to the people of Ithaca, and how he deals with one particular message that will change him forever. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan’s 1943 novel The Human Comedy, Ithaca is a coming-of-age story about the exuberance of youth, the abruptness of change, the sweetness of life, the sting of death, and the sheer goodness that lives in each and every one of us.

Oliver Stone – "Born on the Fourth of July"

The Virginia Film Festival welcomes back legendary director Oliver Stone for a special screening and discussion of his powerful Academy Award-winning film adaptation of the bestselling book by famed Vietnam veteran turned ardent anti-war activist Ron Kovic. Mr. Stone wrote the film’s screenplay with Kovic and received a Best Director Academy Award for the film, which earned eight Oscar® nominations and won four Golden Globe Awards®. Mr. Stone will be featured in a discussion with noted educator, author, and Vietnam War expert Robert Toplin.

Special Event – An Evening with Larry Kramer

The VFF is honored to welcome the distinguished American playwright and LGBT rights activist Larry Kramer for a pair of events at this year’s Festival. Mr. Kramer will be on hand for a discussion of the acclaimed HBO documentary Larry Kramer in Love and Anger on Sunday, November 8 at Newcomb Hall Theater. Later that afternoon at Old Cabell Hall, the Festival will present “An Evening with Larry Kramer,” a wide-ranging talk about his remarkable career and life, at Old Cabell Hall later that afternoon. Mr. Kramer is one of the most dynamic and influential forces for political activism, gay rights, public health policy, and AIDS awareness, and is renowned for both his ardent social activism and literary achievements. At the root of both is his life-long commitment to criticizing gay apathy and government and social indifference to AIDS. He is the founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an AIDS service organization, and ACT UP, a widely effective direct action AIDS advocacy group. His most acclaimed plays include The Normal Heart (1985) and the Pulitzer Prize-finalist The Destiny of Me (1992).The recent revival of The Normal Heart in May, 2014 won three Tony Awards including Best Play, and the HBO television adaptation that same year earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.

Leonard Maltin

Celebrated critic and film historian Leonard Maltin comes to the Virginia Film Festival for the first time to guest program a number of films and to be a part of the annual VFF and the Library of Congress. series. Mr. Maltin’s guest programmer appearances include a conversation with the legendary animator Bill Plympton after a screening of his celebrated film Cheatin’. Maltin will also present a screening of the Academy Award-nominated film Songcatcher followed by a conversation with director, Maggie Greenwald. In addition, Mr. Maltin, a voting member of the National Film Registry, will present hand-picked, restored 35mm prints from the Library of Congress archives in Culpeper of The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Employees’ Entrance (1933).

"Mercy Street"

The Festival will present a sneak preview of an episode of the upcoming PBS television drama Mercy Street. Set to debut following Downton Abbey on Sunday, January 17, the six-part series was produced in and around Richmond, Virginia. Part medical drama, part family saga, the series is based on true stories and is set in Alexandria, Virginia, the longest Union- occupied town of the war. The show follows two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the Civil War; Mary Phinney, (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green, (Charlottesville-area native Hannah James), a naive young Confederate belle, who collide at Mansion House, the Green family’s luxury hotel that has been taken over by the Union and transformed into an Army Hospital. The world of Mansion House is a complex one populated by doctors, nurses, corrupt officials, soldiers, spies, escaped slaves, speculators, and more. Juxtaposed with the hospital is the story of the Green family, southern loyalists who have stubbornly chosen to stay in their hometown despite the occupation. The intersection of North and South within the confines of a small occupied city creates a rich world that is chaotic, conflicted, corrupt, dynamic and even hopeful. The screening will be followed by a discussion with several Mercy Street cast members including Hannah James, Norbert Leo Butz (Bloodline), Cherry Jones (24), and Tara Summers (Boston Legal) along with one of the series’ Executive Producers Lisa Quijano Wolfinger, and renowned U.Va. Civil War expert Gary Gallagher.

Spotlight Screenings

"Carol" – Set in 1952 New York, this new film from award-winning director Todd Haynes tells the story of an aspiring young photographer (Rooney Mara) whose chance department store encounter with an older, married woman (Cate Blanchett) sparks a relationship that changes both of their lives forever.

"Entertainment" – Richmond, Virginia native Rick Alverson presents this nightmarish account of an entertainer on the brink as an aging comedian tours a series of fourth-rate venues in the California desert while trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Director Alverson will be on hand for a post-film discussion.

"In Transit" – The final project of the late legendary documentarian Albert Maysles takes viewers on a journey into the hearts and minds of everyday passengers aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder, America’s busiest long-distance train route, capturing a beautiful portrait of America told in gorgeous landscapes and fascinating interconnected vignettes. Lamb – A man’s journey to self-discovery, fueled by the disintegration of his marriage and death of his father, takes an unexpected detour when he meets an awkward and unpopular eleven-year-old girl who he takes on a mountain road trip that affects them both in surprising ways. The film’s writer, director and star Ross Partridge will be on hand for a discussion of the film.

"Last Days in the Desert" – Ewan McGregor plays Jesus and The Devil in an imagined chapter from his 40 days in the desert that finds the two tangling over the fate of a family in crisis in this latest film from director Rodrigo Garcia and produced by U.Va. alumna Julie Lynn and her producing partner Bonnie Curtis at Mockingbird Pictures. Lynn will be on hand for a discussion of the film.

"A Light Beneath Their Feet" – A high school senior must choose between going to college and taking care of her bipolar mother (played by Taryn Manning) in this film starring Maddie Hasson, who will be on hand to participate in a discussion of the film.

"Louder Than Bombs" – Writer/director Joachim Trier’s drama follows a father (Gabriel Byrne) and his two sons, played by Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid, as they confront their very different memories of their wife and mother, a famed war photographer. Druid will be on hand to discuss the film along with its producer, VFF Advisory Board member Ron Yerxa. Mully – Actor Scott Haze, a graduate of The Miller School in Albemarle County, makes his directorial debut with this inspiring story of Charles Mully, a one-time Kenyan orphan who rose to great wealth and power then risked it all to launch a foundation dedicated to creating a better life for orphans in the country today. Haze will be on hand for a discussion of the film along with the film’s executive producer, Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll.

Project Greenlight Film – Enjoy a sneak peek at the result of HBO’s acclaimed documentary series about filmmaking from executive producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The series focuses on the challenges facing a first-time director as cameras roll from pre-production to casting through principal photography and post production. Director Jason Mann will take part in a conversation about the film.

Documentary Films

"Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA" –Visionary American planner Robert Simon dreamed of “another way of living” in the suburbs, and in 1964 created the New Town of Reston, Virginia. The film follows his unwavering belief in the project, despite being fired due to financial challenges in its earliest stages, and highlights his insistence that the town remain true to its core principles, even with the challenges brought on by financial success.

"The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution" –Filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders) examines the rise of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and its impact on civil rights and American culture. Nelson weaves together a treasure trove of source material with the voices of those who lived it- from the Black Panthers themselves to detractors, FBI informants, journalists, white allies, and others.

"Bound: Africans versus African Americans" – Controversial and illuminating, this documentary from Kenyan-born Peres Owino uses testimonials to expose the seldom-discussed ways that Africans and African Americans view each other, and looks at the cultures’ shared history to foster mutual understanding. Owino will be present to share her film and a post-screening discussion.

"Generation A: Portraits of Autism in the Arts" – This powerful and insightful film, which features Temple Grandin and Ed Asner, shows how young people on the autism spectrum use the arts to reach their highest potential and to connect with others and build pathways into their community.

"Harry & Snowman" – This heartwarming documentary about renowned Central Virginian equestrian Harry deLeyer tells the Cinderella love story that began when he paid $80 for a broken down Amish plow horse headed for the glue factory. Two years later, the pair won the triple crown of show jumping, gaining worldwide fame and forging friendship that lasted a lifetime.

"Imba Means Sing" – An eight-year-old star drummer from Uganda’s Grammy®-nominated African Children’s Choir leads audiences on an inspirational journey highlighted by a life-changing opportunity and showcasing the importance of education.

"Rosenwald" – Filmmaker Aviva Kempner’s latest film tells the incredible yet too-little-known story of how businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald joined with African-American communities in the South to build schools during the early part of the 20th century, and the ongoing efforts to reconfigure those schools. The screening will be in tribute to Julian Bond, who is featured in the film. Mr. Bond’s wife, Pamela Horowitz, Rita Dove, and director Kempner will be in attendance.

"Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot" – The true story of the forgotten heroes in the fight for voting rights—the courageous students and teachers of Selma, Alabama, who stood up against injustice despite facing intimidation, arrests, and violence. Presented in partnership with the U.Va. Center for Politics.

"Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings" – Filmmakers Edgar B. Howard and Tom Piper present a retrospective of LeWitt’s wall drawings in North Adams, Massachusetts. Born in 1928, LeWitt is considered one of the key pioneers of conceptual art for his belief that concept is more important than execution. This screening supports an exhibition this fall at the Fralin Art Museum.

"Until 20" – When James Ragan was 13, he received the most devastating news: he had a rare childhood cancer. What he did after he heard that news is the basis for this film, a moving account of James' life after his diagnosis that asks the question "how would you live if you knew your life would end at 20?"

Spotlight on Virginia Filmmaking

“This year’s crop of films that were either made in Virginia or have Virginia roots are particularly impressive,” said VFF Programmer Wesley Harris, “which really speaks to the growing base of talent and creativity in the Commonwealth. It’s an honor to be able to showcase their work each year.”

This year’s Virginia Filmmaking lineup includes:

"Coming Through the Rye"– Jamie Schwartz, obsessed with Holden Caulfield, runs away from boarding school in the year 1969 to find reclusive author JD Salinger. Inspired by actual events, Jamie's search for Salinger becomes a journey into sexual awakening, love, and loss in this film directed by James Steven Sadwith.

"H8RZ" – With the intrigue of a crime thriller, this story of a mysterious high school “incident” tells a many-layered story that unravels throughout the course of the school’s investigation, and cleverly deals with issues of bullying, school corruption, and the darker side of teen interactions. The screening will feature a discussion with writer/director Derrick Borte (from Norfolk, Virginia) and the film’s star, Israel Broussard.

"Monroe Hill" –This historical documentary-essay film from Charlottesville-based documentarian Eduardo Montes-Bradley traces the roots and historical context of James Monroe’s first home in Albemarle County. The property known as Monroe Hill serves today as the administrative offices of Brown Residential College and is located on the Grounds of the University of Virginia.

"Paradise"–Produced over the course of eight years beginning in 2007, Paradise is a feature-length non-fiction video by U.Va. professor Lydia Moyer that focuses on seven American stories of abandoned sites, including Wounded Knee, South Dakota; the mining town of Centralia, Pennsylvania; and the site of the Jonestown massacre in Guyana. Moyer’s work will also be featured in this year’s Digital Media Gallery, located in Second Street Gallery.

"Polyfaces" – Four years in the making, this documentary celebrates the unique connection between food and community found at the third-generation family farm of internationally-acclaimed author and activist Joel Salatin (called the “world’s most innovative farmer” by Time Magazine). The screening will feature a conversation with Joel Salatin alongside filmmakers Lisa Heenan and Darren Doherty.

"Night of the Living Deb"–Endearingly awkward Deb wakes up in the apartment of the most attractive guy in Portland, Maine. One problem…she doesn’t remember how she ended up there. A second problem…said guy ushers her out the door…and straight into a full-scale zombie apocalypse! Virginia native director Kyle Baker, star Maria Thayer, and cinematographer Tom Ackerman will be present to discuss the film.

Library of Congress Series

The Virginia Film Festival celebrates the fifth year of its unique partnership with the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, presenting a series of films that celebrate the National Film Registry and the Campus’ dedication to film preservation. This year’s lineup will include the Humphrey Bogart classic The Maltese Falcon (1941), the seedy pre-Code drama Employee’s Entrance (1933), and D. W. Griffith’s landmark 1915 film Birth of a Nation, which remains one of the most controversial films in American history. The screening of Birth of a Nation will be followed by a panel discussion led by The Miller Center’s Director of Public Programs, noted journalist and author Douglas A. Blackmon, who earned the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his book, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.

International Films

"Cemetery of Splendour" (Thailand) – Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) returns in this mysterious and funny new film about a young medium and middle-aged hospital volunteer who investigate a case of mass sleeping sickness that may have supernatural roots.

"Dough" (UK/Hungary) – An endearing and heartfelt tale about an old Jewish baker (Jonathan Pryce) who is struggling to keep his business afloat, and then sees sales soar when a young Muslim apprentice accidentally drops cannabis into the dough.

"Eisenstein In Guanajuato" (Netherlands/Mexico) – Filmmaker Peter Greenaway looks into the mind of the Russian creative genius Sergei Eisenstein and how that filmmaker’s ten days in Mexico in 1931 and the desires and fears of love, sex, and death, he faced there, helped shape the career and legacy of one of the great Masters of Cinema.

"In the Basement" (Austria) – Ulrich Seldl heads deep into his nation’s consciousness by delving into what its people get up to in their basements, one of the most utilized rooms in Austrian homes. The answers run the gamut from mundane hobbies to shocking obsessions and reveal, in some cases, more than we ever hoped to know.

"The Kindergarten Teacher" (Israel/France) – A young woman becomes enchanted, then obsessed, with the otherworldly poetic talents of a five-year-old boy, ultimately pushing boundaries in an effort to protect that talent before his purity is lost.

"The Pearl Button" (Chile) The great Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán uses the metaphor of water, inspired by his nation’s vast coastline, to chronicle the history of the indigenous peoples of Chilean Patagonia, whose decimation by colonial conquest foretold the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Mountains May Depart (China) – A sweeping tale from noted Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke about a town beauty and two suitors that that jumps from the past to the near future to show how China’s economic boom has impacted the bonds of family, tradition, and love.

"My Friend Victoria" (France) – Adapted from a short story by Nobel Prize®-winning writer Doris Lessing, this powerful tale of race and privilege shifts the scene to Paris to focus on a young orphan girl whose one night in the home of a wealthy family changes has reverberations that change the course of her life.

"Sembene!" (Senegal) – The unbelievable real life epic about Ousmane Sembene, the “father of African cinema,” tells the tale of an ordinary man who fought enormous odds to give African stories to Africans from the perspective of the man who knew him best.

"Summer of Sangaile" (Lithuania/France/Netherlands) – A chance meeting between two restless teenagers sets the stage for a summer of awakening, learning to fly, and learning to love, in this beautiful film that earned a prestigious World Cinema Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

"Taxi" (Iran) – Exiled Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi takes the helm, and the wheel, in this slice-of-life documentary that finds him posing as a taxi driver to get a look inside the lives of Tehran residents. The film earned the coveted Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival.

"Victoria" (Germany) – Shot in a single two hour-plus take, this edge-of-your-seat thriller tells the story of a runaway party girl who spontaneous night out with three men turns into a bank robbery.

U.Va. Center for Politics

This year, the VFF and the Center for Politics are continuing their annual collaboration with a special screening of Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot. The true story of the forgotten heroes in the fight for voting rights depicts the courageous students and teachers of Selma, Alabama who stood up against injustice despite facing intimidation, arrests, and violence. The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Joanne Bland, the co-founder and former director of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama; Charles Mauldin, who was elected president of the Dallas County Youth League at the age of only 16 – the student-led organization that led many of the nonviolent marches and demonstrations that culminated in the March to Montgomery and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and whose parents were the first two to be registered as a result of that passage; and Selma foot soldier Albert Southall, who faced dogs, horses, tear gas, billy clubs, and cattle prods that fateful day on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Faust – Featuring John D’earth and the Free Bridge Quintet

On Saturday, November 7, as part of a special partnership with the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music, the Free Bridge Quintet, in partnership with the Virginia Film Festival, will perform a two hour accompaniment to the 1926 silent film Faust, directed by F.W. Murnau. The score, composed by Free Bridge trumpeter and U.Va. Director of Jazz Performance John D'earth, was originally commissioned by the U.Va. Film Society in 2003 for a presentation of the restored print. The film will screen in Old Cabell Hall and will feature the Quintet with special guest, principal percussionist of the Charlottesville Symphony, I-Jen Fang. Note: VFF ticket vouchers and badges will not be redeemable for this event.

Family Day

Family Day returns to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds on Saturday, November 7 with a day-long celebration for all ages, highlighted by screenings of Pixar Short Films 2007-2012 and the beloved family classic Babe. The screenings begin at 10:00 AM at Culbreth Theatre. Also returning this year will be the Charlottesville Symphony’s Musical Instrument Petting Zoo in the Helms Theatre, and the ever-popular Young Filmmakers Academy, showcasing the work of over 600 student filmmakers from around the area who this year received classroom mentorship on various aspects of the filmmaking process from representatives of Light House Studio. The day will also feature the return of the VFF arts-inspired interactive workshops led by U.Va. and community arts professionals on topics including “Make-up Effects,” “Speak Shakespeare Like a Pro!”, “Music in Movies,” and more. The workshops are free, but require advance registration. To register, visit virginiafilmfestival.org/workshops/. All Family Day events are free and open to the public, and feature complimentary and convenient parking at the Culbreth Road Garage.

School Screening – Most Likely to Succeed

Middle school and high school students from throughout the region will attend a special screening of the award-winning documentary Most Likely to Succeed on Friday, November 6 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The film, by Greg Whiteley, has been hailed as one of the most important films ever done on the topic of the past and present of school. The film inspires audiences with a sense of purpose and possibility to reimagine what America’s students and teachers are capable of doing, and encourages its viewers to look at education in ways they never have before.

The film will also be presented as a public screening that same evening at PVCC Dickinson Center.

Digital Media Gallery

The Digital Media Gallery returns to Second Street Gallery, inside the City Center for Contemporary Arts, where it will feature video projection art and experimental films by students from acclaimed filmmaker Kevin Everson’s intermediate and advanced U.Va. cinematography students and local students from the award-winning Light House Studio. The DMG will also feature the debut of a new film by celebrated video artist Lydia Moyer, an associate professor at U.Va. The DMG will officially open with a First Friday reception on November 6 and will remain open through the month of November. The 2015 DMG is curated in company with Beyond Classification, a group exhibition of contemporary photography and video by women artists from Egypt who offer multiple perspectives on current political and social conditions in Egypt, as well as diverse strategies for communicating about those conditions in photography and video. View these works before the VFF weekend, beginning October 23. Beyond Classification and the Digital Media Gallery are both free and open to the public. The 2015 DMG is made possible by the generous support from the University of Virginia Arts Council and The A/V 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 7 at 9:30 PM

Parties and Events

The 28th 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:

• Opening Night Gala – Thursday, November 5 The Jefferson Theater, Downtown Mall – doors open at 9:30 PM (21 and over event) Come celebrate the excitement of opening night following our special screening of I Saw the Light, and toast the Festival weekend with beverages, light buffet refreshments, and live 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 7

Main Street Arena, Downtown Mall – 10:00 PM (21 and over event) Close out the 2015 Virginia Film Festival in style at this annual highlight event. It’s a great way to connect with filmmakers, VFF special guests, and fellow film fans in a fun and festival atmosphere. Tickets to the Late Night Wrap Party are $35.00 per person.

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