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16TH Annual Virginia Film Festival Wants to Show You the $ …
From low-budget to mega-budget, four days of movies on moolah, and the money behind them…

September 26, 2003 -- Charlottesville, VA – Virginia filmgoers will be rolling in dough on October 23 when the 16th annual Virginia Film Festival delivers a four-day windfall of films and events exploring the pervasive role of money in media, art and society. Based at the University of Virginia, the Virginia Film Festival infuses the campus and community at large with its thematic presentations and special events. With $ as the root of all … screenings, this year’s program is designed to bring sweet relief to viewers weathering an ailing economy (after all, many credit last year’s “Wet” theme with ending the region’s drought). The wealth of films to be shown October 23 –26 includes nearly seventy feature premieres, classics and short films and over sixty guest speakers. As always, screenings are complemented with an eclectic schedule of panels, exhibits, performances, and parties.

Complete schedule and ticket information is now online at

Call 1-800-UVA-FEST for more information.

Opening Night Gala Screening Honors Dog Day Afternoon Screenwriter Frank Pierson and Bankrobber John S. Wojtowicz

Pierre Huyghe Video Installation on the Dog Day Robbery to be Featured at the U.Va Art Museum Gala

Opening night at the Festival pays tribute to one of the most acclaimed bank heist films ever made, Dog Day Afternoon, and its Oscar-nominated screenwriter Frank Pierson, who will receive the 2003 Virginia Film Award. Pierson won the Oscar for scripting Cool Hand Luke and has directed acclaimed cable movies in recent years (Truman, Conspiracy, Dirty Pictures). He is also the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His shot-by-shot workshop on Cool Hand Luke in 1997 and his articulate and inspiring appearances on VFF screenwriter panels have made him a favorite of local audiences. Pierson will conduct this year’s Regal Shot-By-Shot Workshop on Dog Day Afternoon (October 25 and 26) and present his recent directorial effort, Soldier’s Girl, a sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The opening night program will also feature special guest Pierre Huyghe, 2002 winner of the Hugo Boss Prize. Huyghe’s video installation, The Third Memory, will be on display in the University of Virginia Art Museum, where the gala opening party will take place after the screening. The Third Memory juxtaposes scenes from Dog Day Afternoon with a reenactment of the robbery conducted by “Sir John” S. Wojtowicz, the actual bankrobber immortalized by Al Pacino in the 1973 film. Wojtowicz is traveling from Brooklyn to join Pierson and Huyghe at the opening.

Gala Tickets are $15 for the screening or $75 for the screening and party on October 23.

A Lineup of Featured Guests Worth Their Weight in Gold

David Gulpilil, the acclaimed Aboriginal actor renowned for his unforgettable performances in Walkabout, The Last Wave, and Rabbit Proof Fence, will visit Charlottesville as the guest of the Film Festival and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. Gulpilil will premiere his recent film, The Tracker, directed by Rolf de Heer, on October 24. Gulpilil will also display his bark paintings in the Fringe Festival in downtown Charlottesville, and give a traditional dance and didjeridu performance during An Evening with David Gulpilil at the Fringe on October 25. The performance will be preceded by the American premiere of One Red Blood, a 56-minute documentary on Gulpilil’s life and career, introduced by its director, Darlene Johnson.

Two great independent film directors will be honored at this year’s VFF. On successive nights of the Film Festival, Rob Nilsson will present three films from his 9@Night series. This series of nine interrelated, improvised movies is being made with the Tenderloin yGroup, a drama workshop for homeless people and inner city San Francisco residents. Following Stroke and Scheme C6, Nilsson will present the American premiere of Noise on the Festival’s closing night. The legendary American independent filmmaker Charles Burnett, whose Killer of Sheep was among the first fifty films declared “national treasures” by the Library of Congress, will present his two latest films: Warming By The Devil’s Fire, his segment from the PBS series, The Blues, and Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property.

TV and film producer Paul Junger Witt (Insomnia, Dead Poets Society, and Witt Thomas Harris Productions) will conduct this year’s Darden Producers Forum on the making of Three Kings. A screening of the Gulf War heist film, increasingly recognized as a modern classic and a penetrating dissection of the mythologies underlying both Gulf Wars, will be followed by a discussion with U.Va. Middle East scholars, including Abdulaziz Sachedina and Helena Cobban.

Virginia filmmaker David Williams (winner of the IFP Someone to Watch award in 1999 for Thirteen) will present the world premiere of Long Art, his documentary about the struggle to make art, focusing on three of Richmond’s most talented visual artists. Other Virginia filmmakers screening new works in the Festival include Hollins University and U.Va. film professors Jake Mahaffy and Sundance favorite, Kevin Everson. Mahaffy’s screening of his fine cut will launch his efforts to raise the finishing “$” for his stunning black-and-white feature, War.

The Festival will present a rich array of discussion forums addressing the economics of high and low budget filmmaking. The Festival has gathered a panel of luminaries in the field of public media funding. Pat Aufderheide of American University’s Center for Social Media, POV’s Cara Mertes, Creative Capital’s Ruby Lerner, Woody Wickham from the Macarthur Foundation and Helen de Michiel of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. A stellar lineup of Hollywood producers and executives is scheduled to attend and address the global financing and marketing of their latest projects, including Marc Abraham (Dawn of the Dead), Mark Johnson (The Alamo), Ron Yerxa (Cold Mountain), Janet Graham Borba (HBO Vice President of Production; Angels in America), Doro Bachrach (Soldier’s Girl), and Julie Lynn (Wit).

The Festival will move beyond the movie theater to involve a wide range of visual and performing artists. The Fringe Festival, the massive annual exhibit of sculpture, photography, painting and multimedia in downtown Charlottesville, will return for its fourth year. On Sunday afternoon, October 26, the NYC-based performance artist and activist, Bill Talen, will bring to the Fringe his scarily accurate recreation of a holy rolling televangelist, An Emergency Preaching from Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping.

The Priceless Ideas Behind the Programming

Reflecting its University base, the Virginia Film Festival is uniquely designed as a gargantuan and entertaining four-day “course” on a cultural theme. Festival director Richard Herskowitz designed this year’s program “to explore the extremes of having too much and too little $$$$.” The first two days will focus on poverty and low-budget filmmaking, while the last two days highlight bloated budgets and affluenza.

Among the films addressing poverty and low wages are the Zeitgeist Films release, James’ Journey to Jerusalem, Fernando Meirelles’ pre-City of Gods comedy Maids (Domesticas, O Filme), An Injury to One, Bums’ Paradise, and the John Ford classic The Grapes of Wrath. Excessive affluence is depicted in the re-release of Brian DePalma’s Scarface, Pavel Lounguine’s Tycoon: A New Russian, and Nothing So Strange, the faux documentary on the Bill Gates assassination, as well as in the program of short films titled Stopping Shopping. Classic films on people pursuing, making or inheriting too much include Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances, to be accompanied live by Anne Watts and Boister (whose accompaniment was a sensational hit at last year’s VFF) and How to Marry a Millionaire, Force of Evil, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Citizen Kane, and The Philadelphia Story. The heist film, the genre devoted to mapping the quickest route to accumulating great riches, is well-represented in the Festival by Rififi, The Killing, Dog Day Afternoon. The Italian Job, Three Kings, and Reconstruction.

The concepts of “too much” and “too little” are also explored in relation to filmmaking budgets. The Festival program includes a segment on “handmade movies,” the “no budget” experimental film movement of cameraless filmmaking, in which artists make images by scratching, painting and otherwise manipulating the physical film. Representing this intriguing genre are visiting artists Phil Solomon and Devon Damonte. Damonte will display his own work and that of local high school students who enroll in his “Festival 101” class during the week of the Festival. Game Engine, presented by Graham Leggat, will explore how the $11 billion video game business (the entertainment industry’s biggest cash cow) is turned on its head by artist-hackers, including the online performance artist and Festival guest Ze Frank. Big budget filmmaking will be represented by Foolish Wives, the world’s first million dollar movie, directed by the visionary and profligate director Erich von Stroheim. Pianist Donald Sosin and singer Joanna Seaton will return to the Virginia Film Festival to accompany Foolish Wives. Screenwriters Wayne and Donna Powers will present the 1969 The Italian Job followed by their 2003 remake, and describe the process of turning the cult heist flick into the blockbuster that stole an unexpectedly big chunk of this past summer’s box office.

Also addressing conditions of wealth and poverty are the following special premieres: Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions, the upcoming Miramax release that wowed festival audiences at Cannes, Telluride, and Toronto; The Cooler, the Lion’s Gate release starring William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin; and Speedo, to be presented by director Jesse Moss, P.O.V. Executive Director Cara Mertes, and demolition car legend Speedo himself.

Don’t get short-changed!

Check for updates on program information and guest appearances. for bios and pictures

Contact: Elizabeth Kiem (434) 924-3039

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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