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Beyond Glamour and Glitz: 10 Reasons to Attend This Year’s Virginia Film Festival

Each year, the Virginia Film Festival, presented by the University of Virginia, showcases groundbreaking films. As has always been the case, this year’s festival, which runs from Nov. 7 to 10, will also offer film-related experiences that embrace the educational values of the University, the local community and students of all ages.

Here are 10 important festival events that emphasize those qualities.

Remembering Kennedy

As part of its partnership with U.Va.’s Center for Politics, the festival will spotlight the upcoming national PBS documentary, “The Kennedy Half-Century,” produced by the center in conjunction with Richmond’s WCVE-TV, on Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Culbreth Theatre.

Director Paul T. Roberts’ documentary tells the compelling story of John F. Kennedy’s life and administration, as well as his tragic death on Nov. 22, 1963.

At the screening, Larry J. Sabato, University Professor of Politics and director of the center, will offer a look at how Kennedy’s life, politics and death have influenced the American public, the media and each of his nine successors.

Going Hollywood with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, U.Va. Department of Drama

For the first time, the festival is partnering with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond to celebrate the rich legacy of movie costumes. The museum will host a “Hollywood Costume” exhibit Nov. 9 through Feb. 17.

Organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the exhibit brings together iconic costumes from a century of cinema, offering a rare opportunity to see the clothes worn by unforgettable and beloved characters in films such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “My Fair Lady,” “Titanic,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Birds.”

The festival will present a costume-design film series, including “All that Heaven Allows” (Nov. 10, 11 a.m., Paramount Theater), featuring a discussion led by Gweneth West, head of costume design at the U.Va. Department of Drama. exploring the importance of costume design in cinema.

The “Presidency in Film” Series with the Miller Center

On Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. at Newcomb Hall Theater, U.Va.’s Miller Center will offer a special screening of “Our Nixon,” a look at the Nixon administration through the 8mm cameras of some of its key players, including advisers and central Watergate figures Robert Haldeman, John Ehrichman and press secretary Ron Ziegler.

This unique visual record was seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten for almost 40 years.

Directed by Penny Lane, the film combines home movies with other rare footage, creating an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency. Producer Brian Frye will be on hand for a discussion following the screening.

The Dougherty Installation on the Arts Grounds

Manipulating branches and sticks has captured environmental artist Patrick Dougherty’s imagination since a childhood spent making forts and treehouses. Decades later, his award-winning installation art can be seen all over the world, including on the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

A documentary, “Bending Sticks: The Sculpture of Patrick Dougherty,” on the festival’s schedule (Nov. 7, 5:30 p.m., Culbreth Theatre), offers an intimate glimpse at the creative process behind Dougherty’s “stickwork” – from initial conception to construction to public reaction.

Built with the assistance of University and community volunteers in conjunction with The Fralin Museum of Art, Dougherty’s sculptural installation, “On the Fly,” is currently on display on the Arts Grounds.

The Library of Congress Series

Curated in conjunction with the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, this series celebrates the National Film Registry.

Each year, the United States National Film Preservation Board selects 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” films for preservation in the Library of Congress.

This year’s featured films include “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” honoring the late special-effects legend Ray Harryhausen, who pioneered the use of stop-motion animation (Nov. 9, 3 p.m., Newcomb Hall Theater); “All That Heaven Allows,” the 1955 classic melodrama directed by Douglas Sirk and featuring Rock Hudson (Nov. 10, 11 a.m., Paramount Theater); and “The Court Jester,” which celebrates the late Danny Kaye’s 100th birthday (Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m., Regal 2 Downtown Mall).

Digital Media Gallery Featuring U.Va. Filmmakers

This year marks the first collaboration between the festival and Charlottesville’s Second Street Gallery, offering a chance to experience and enjoy video projection art and contemporary films in a world-class gallery setting.

Featured works will include pieces by U.Va. intermediate and advanced cinematography students, taught by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Kevin Everson.

An art professor, Everson has made more than 70 shorts and five feature-length films, has won numerous awards and is considered one of today’s most innovative filmmakers. Everson’s own selected work will be screened Friday as part of the festival.

The gallery also will include the work of experimental video artist Lydia Moyer, an assistant professor in the McIntire Department of Art, and films made by students from Charlottesville’s Light House Studio.

Light House Studio short films will also be shown on Nov. 7 at 5:45 p.m. at Regal 4 on the Downtown Mall.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet: Making a Movie in Just 72 Hours

The Adrenaline Film Project celebrates the 10th anniversary of its breathtaking approach to an educational experience. Twelve teams of filmmakers have 72 hours to write, shoot, edit and screen their short films, led by a talented team of mentors and teachers, including Adrenaline founder Jeff Wadlow, Charlottesville-based filmmaker Derek Sieg and acting instructor Leigh Kilton-Smith. The completed films will hit the screen Nov. 9 at 9 p.m. at the Culbreth Theatre.

Middle and High School Cinema Studies

Every year the festival hosts a free screening of a socially relevant film for middle and high school students and their teachers. On Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center,  the festival will present “William and the Windmill,” a powerful documentary about a young Malawian boy who built his own windmill from junk parts in an effort to rescue his family from famine. Film director Ben Nabors, as well as energy and innovation experts, will participate in a panel discussion with students after the screening

Family Day Extravaganza on the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds

This year’s “Family Day” events shift from Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds on Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The day kicks off with members of the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra performing favorite movie themes in Culbreth Theatre in advance of the 60th-anniversary screening of the Disney classic “Peter Pan” at 10 a.m. The orchestra’s “Musical Instrument Petting Zoo” in the Helms Theatre will offer close-up encounters with orchestra members and their musical instruments.

An Arts Fair series of outdoor activities for all ages will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. across Arts Grounds, including interactive demonstrations with the mega-size creatures from U.Va.’s acclaimed Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature. These giant moving creatures were constructed during the 2012-13 academic year as a collaboration between the School of Architecture, the Department of Drama and the McIntire Department of Art.

Participants will also get a chance to go Hollywood by dressing up as a favorite movie character – and then posing for paparazzi on the red carpet.

Students of all ages are invited to enroll in these film-inspired arts workshops led by U.Va. Arts faculty and staff. Workshops will include stage combat, Shakespeare, dance, animation and theater games. Click here for details and to pre-register student artists.

The festival also will host filmmakers from the Virginia Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Academy. The academy features more than 600 participants from 11 area elementary and middle schools with a total of over 150 films. As part of the festival’s Family Day celebration, the young filmmakers will host their own red carpet experience and public screening from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Campbell Hall.

Charlottesville Middle School Documentary

In 2012, the Burley Middle School Young Women’s Chorus, known as the “Bearettes,” traveled to Cincinnati to take part in the World Choir Games, known as the Olympics of educational choral music.

In total, 15,000 choirs and 362 participants from 64 countries took part in the event, and the Bearettes brought home a bronze medal.

Thanks to Alex Kane, the film’s director, and Craig Jennings, Burley’s music teacher and the Bearettes’ director, a documentary film, “The Way We Are,” chronicled the choir’s journey. The film will hit the big screen at Regal 3 on the Downtown Mall on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., with Jennings discussing his choir afterward.

For information about the Virginia Film Festival, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org. Tickets are on sale via the website, by phone at 434-924-3376 and at the U.Va. Arts Box Office at Culbreth Theatre.

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