Oct. 15-28, 2004
Back Issues
'Tremendous,' 'Smart,' 'Pragmatic'
Access UVa: The door's open
University presidents make the case for charter
Insurance costs going up, but health coverage to expand
Ann Lee Brown gives $10.5 million to U.Va.
Board in tune with U.Va.-Wise, thanks to Smiddy
Faculty Actions from the October BOV meeting
Thanks to Charlottesville families
Film festival examines reel 'Speed'
NYT columnist, others, to discuss election

Whiteness exhibit to open its only East Coast showing

Gies to speak at fall program
Taking stock of Virginia mountain streams


Film festival examines reel ‘Speed’
“The Great Escape”
“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. 28 through 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 of Heaven.”
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 process, Herskowitz said.

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, experimental and symbolic styles, Everson interweaves narratives concerning education, landscape, luck, gaining and losing jobs, and the passage of time in the film.

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 the 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 works by two acclaimed experimental film and installation artists, Sharon Lockhart and Martin Arnold.

In conjunction with the festival, the U.Va. Art Museum will exhibit “Bill 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 31, chronicles 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 of the project, the town, which had almost no Jews and very little diversity, has become a destination for Holocaust survivors.

The South also is the setting of the festival premiere of “Chrystal,” Oct. 30 and 31, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Lisa Blount and Walton Goggins. U.Va. alumnus and producer David Koplan will join director Ray McKinnon, and actors Goggins and Blount for the program on Oct. 30.

Festival and ticket information is available online at: www.vafilm.com. Starting Oct. 18, the festival will sell tickets by phone, 1-800-UVA-FEST, and at the Culbreth Theatre’s box office.


Sandra BullockActress 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.


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