examines reel ‘Speed’|
| “The Great Escape” is one of the films in
the festival that pay tribute to Steve McQueen (above). The
1963 film, based on a true story about POWs trying to break
out of a Nazi prison camp, offers one of the late actor’s
most memorable stunts.
By Jane Ford and Staff Reports
From race-and-chase films, to talks with filmmakers,
to exploring the Slow Food movement, programming
for the 17th annual Virginia
Film Festival, Oct.
Oct. 31, is varied but shares a common element — speed.
The theme of this year’s festival, though, “doesn’t necessarily
mean fast,” said festival director Richard Herskowitz. “While many
of the films we are showing will quicken the pulse of audiences, we will also
explore the flip side of that by featuring a ‘cinema of contemplation.’”
For instance, the quintessential fast-action
films of actor Steve McQueen, typified by “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt,” will
be balanced by a slower genre of such movies as David Gordon Green’s “Undertow,” Paul
Schrader’s “Light Sleeper” and Terence Malick’s “Days
The festival will celebrate feature, documentary and experimental films — made
on both large and small budgets — by presenting screenings, performances,
panels and parties. More and more, it’s becoming a director’s
festival, which provides an opportunity to get close to the filmmaking
Schrader, director (“Raging Bull” and “American Gigilo”)
and screenwriter (“Taxi Driver” and “Affliction”), will
present a shot-by-shot dissection of Robert Bresson’s “Pickpocket.” Green’s
shot-by-shot analysis of “Days of Heaven,” with the film’s
editor Billy Weber, is an homage to Malick. Film scholars Robert Kolker
and Walter Korte will moderate the two workshops.
The festival will also highlight Charlottesville and
Virginia filmmakers. Director Nicole Kassell
will screen her first feature film “The Woodsman,” which
was highly acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival and stars Kevin Bacon, Kyra
Sedgwick, David Alan Grier and Mos Def. The film, which opens theatrically in
late December, kicks off the festival’s screenings following the
Opening Night Gala at the U.Va. Art Museum on Oct. 28.
Paul Wagner will return to the festival and offer a sneak
preview of “Angels,” a
work-in-progress, on Oct. 29. The Academy Award-winning local filmmaker’s
movie was co-written by Charlottesville-based writer Karl Ackerman and
features local talent in front of and behind the camera.
Kevin Everson, U.Va. assistant professor of studio art,
has been screening his short films at Sundance
for the past four years.
The world premiere
of his first
feature film “Spicebush,” which he wrote, produced and shot,
will close the festival on Oct. 31. Using a combination of documentary,
and symbolic styles, Everson interweaves narratives concerning education,
landscape, luck, gaining and losing jobs, and the passage of time in the
On Oct. 30, John Warner Jr. will screen two films in
his trilogy on NASCAR racing: “The
Wendell Scott Story” and “The Golden Era of NASCAR.” The latter
work is narrated by the filmmaker’s father and racing enthusiast
Virginia Sen. John Warner, who will attend the screening.
The concept of “slow food” also will play a part in the festival,
starting with a screening of “Mondovino,” by filmmaker and
sommelier Jonathan Nossiter, about the contemporary business of winemaking
in Napa Valley
on Oct. 31. A Slow Food brunch will follow the morning screening. In the
afternoon, the Slow Food Short Films program features some of the best
short narrative and
documentary films shown at the annual
International Festival of Slow Food on Film in Italy. Slow
Food is an international organization whose aim is to protect
pleasures of the table from the
homogenization of modern fast food.
To speed things up, the Adrenaline Film Project, led
by Charlottesville native Jeff Wadlow and his
production team, will spend three
days working with 12
teams of aspiring young filmmakers to produce films that
will be unveiled on Oct. 31.
At the screening, Wadlow also will present his animated
film, “Catching Kringle,” which portrays Santa as
a national security threat and is voiced by Danny DeVito
and Larry King.
Experimental films that stretch, freeze and compress
time also will be featured at the festival. Among them
by two acclaimed
installation artists, Sharon Lockhart and Martin Arnold.
conjunction with the festival, the U.Va. Art Museum will
Viola: Six Heads,” an
installation piece in which the artist examines six
different emotional states on a single screen.
The festival adds music to the program with New York
audiovisualist David Last and friends, who will present
works by international “Synaesthesiologists,” or
contemporary video artists, who fuse sight and sound
in the rapidly expanding genre of visual music. In addition
to the Oct. 28 screening, the artists
will perform a live mix of audio and
visuals on the night of Oct. 29 at the Synaesthesiologists:
Dance Party at the Satellite Ballroom.
On Oct. 30, country singer Jim White will drive his
1970 Chevy Impala through the American South in
the film “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus” where
he encounters such musical mavericks as The Handsome
Family, Johnny Dowd, David Johansen, David Eugene
of 16 Horsepower and old-time
banjo player Lee Sexton. After the screening, White
will perform live in concert at the Gravity Lounge.
There also are films for children, including a
Saturday morning screening of “National
Velvet,” starring a young Elizabeth Taylor; and a screening of legendary
actor Harold Lloyd’s silent film “Speedy,” with
music by local pianist Art
Wheeler, on Sunday afternoon. Herskowitz also
recommends “Paper Clips,” a
documentary by Virginia producer Bob Johnson. Winner
of the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature,
the film, to be screened Oct. 29 and
a group of middle school students in Tennessee as they
engage in a project to collect one paper clip for every
person lost to the Holocaust. Because
project, the town, which had almost no Jews and very
little diversity, has become a destination for Holocaust
The South also is the setting of the festival
premiere of “Chrystal,” Oct.
30 and 31, starring
Billy Bob Thornton, Lisa Blount and Walton
alumnus and producer David Koplan will
join director Ray McKinnon,
and actors Goggins
for the program on Oct. 30.
Festival and ticket information is available
online at: www.vafilm.com. Starting Oct.
18, the festival
tickets by phone,
1-800-UVA-FEST, and at
the Culbreth Theatre’s box office.
BULLOCK TO HEADLINE FESTIVAL
Actress Sandra Bullock will be
the guest star at this year’s
Virginia Film Festival.
She will receive the Virginia Film Award on Oct. 30, before
presenting a clip of “Miss Congeniality 2,” due out next year,
and introducing “Miss Congeniality,” a comedy in
which she plays an FBI agent undercover at a beauty pageant.
Tickets for the 7 p.m. event at Culbreth Theatre are available
at www.vafilm.com for $10.
Another of Bullock’s films, “Speed,”released
10 years ago, is a centerpiece of the festival. Her “Congeniality” films
were added to the festival offerings because she produced both.
The 40-year-old actress also will address a class of U.Va. drama
students; the event is closed to the public.