Sept. 27, 2006 -- The hour of revelation is at hand, as the Virginia Film Festival has unveiled the program of its 19th annual event, scheduled for Oct. 26-29. Over fifty special guests, including actors Robert Duvall and Liev Schreiber, will assemble in Charlottesville for the program of over seventy films, art exhibits and musical performances addressing this year’s theme of Revelations: Finding God at the Movies.
“Our programming this year is taking a multi-dimensional look at spirituality, religion and the movies,” Festival Director Richard Herskowitz stated. “The potential of film to create spiritual experiences for viewers will be explored through classics such as Ordet, The Seventh Seal and The Sacrifice. The growing tensions between and within secular and religious cultures are tackled in such independent films as Jesus Camp, Camp Out, Iraq in Fragments, and With God on Our Side. Other selections will explore a multiplicity of faiths — Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and others, as well as irreverent perspectives on religious belief, from the video art game Waco Resurrection to Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.”
A highlight will come Friday evening, Oct. 27, when the Festival honors Academy-Award-winner (and longtime Virginia resident) Robert Duvall with The Virginia Film Award. Herskowitz noted: “Robert Duvall’s film The Apostle, for which he won best film, actor, and director at the 1997 Independent Spirit Awards, has been requested more than any other title since we announced our theme last winter. We are thrilled that he will join us for a conversation with New York Magazine critic David Edelstein after the screening, and that we will have a chance to honor Duvall for his extraordinary contributions as an actor and director.”
While the theme will be heavily featured throughout the weekend, this year’s event will rely on more than faith alone to engage, entertain and delight. Festival goers will enjoy a series of outstanding musical events and art exhibitions…have the opportunity to view classics of Scandinavian cinema and then travel abroad to experience Scandinavian culture first-hand…and join in celebrating the booming Charlottesville arts community and its growing concentration of talented musicians, filmmakers and artists.
The complete schedule for the 2006 Virginia Film Festival will appear online beginning Thursday, September 28, and tickets go on sale on Friday, September 29 at 9am at www.vafilm.com. For more information, call 1-800-VAFILM.
OTHER SPECIAL GUESTS
• Actor Liev Schreiber, who will present Everything is Illuminated, which he adapted for the screen and filmed as his directorial debut.
• Child actor William Moseley (Peter Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia), who will accompany a special family screening of the film on Saturday morning.
• Famed novelist and screenwriter Michael Tolkin with his film The Rapture. Tolkin, perhaps best known for The Player, will also autograph copies of his latest book, Return of the Player, as well as of a recently-released collection of his screenplays
• Guest directors Brad Siberling (10 Items or Less), Carl Colpaert (GI Jesus), and Paul Fitzgerald (Forgiven) will accompany the regional premieres of their feature films.
• Actress January Jones and director Derek Sieg open this year’s Film Festival with the critically acclaimed Swedish Auto, filmed in Charlottesville (10/26, 7pm, Paramount)
• Punk preacher Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, with an advance screening of the first episode of the Sundance Channel series, One Punk Under God.
• Documentary filmmakers Lisa Leeman, Randy Olson and Calvin Skaggs will join the Center for Social Media’s Pat Aufderheide on a panel on Religion, Media and Politics.
• Black Maria Film Festival director John Columbus will present a 25th anniversary program from his festival emphasizing experimental films that aim for a sublime and transcendental vision.
A GATHERING OF FAITHS
Presented by the University of Virginia, the Virginia Film Festival is described by Herskowitz as “a four-day course on a cultural theme in which 10,000 people enroll.” This year’s theme, Revelations: Finding God at the Movies, spans the spectrum of religious faiths reflected onscreen.
The program includes films on Christianity, including two documentaries by Charlottesville-based filmmakers Paul Wagner (The God of a Second Chance) and Brad and Kent Williamson (Rebellion of Thought). Other premiere and classic titles addressing aspects of Christianity include Michael Apted’s Amazing Grace and Son of Man, an African retelling of the Gospels, plus Jonestown, Camp Out, In My Father’s Church, Life of Brian, I Confess, Ordet and With God on Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right.
Jewish-themed films included West Bank Story and His People, Everything is Illuminated, Out of Faith and Keep Not Silent. Other religions included are Mormonism (Trapped By the Mormons); Buddhism (Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy, Words of My Perfect Teacher, Eve and The Firehorse, Travellers and Magicians); Islam (Iraq in Fragments, The Virgin Diaries, and Passage), Hinduism (Devi) and indigenous religions (Ten Canoes).
The Festival will kick off with a multi-denominational gathering sponsored by Yogaville in which representatives of diverse faiths will light a candle for world peace on Thursday evening at 6pm in the Charlottesville Pavilion. Yogaville will also host a screening of the film Five Masters of Meditation on Sunday afternoon at noon at its site in Buckingham, Virginia.
THE ARTS OF CHARLOTTESVILLE
Once again this year, the Virginia Film Festival will partner with fine art venues throughout Charlottesville to showcase a wide variety of outstanding work. This year’s exhibitions will include Passage, Shirin Neshat’s magnificent video installation evoking the condition of women in Islamic Iran, presented at the Second Street Gallery from October 6-28. The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, which will host a panel discussion on “Indigenous Spiritualities” accompanying the film Ten Canoes (10/28, 1pm, Vinegar Hill Theater and 10:15pm. at Regal Downtown #3) during the festival, is presenting Radiance: Seeing the Divine in Aboriginal Art at its museum through December 21. And in conjunction with the contemporary art exhibition Complicit! at the UVA Art Museum, the Festival will feature video game artist Eddo Stern, who will demonstrate Waco Resurrection, a recreation of the events in the Branch Davidian compound that allows players to “be” David Koresh (10/27, 4:30pm, Campbell Hall 160)..
Live music events will include Festival favorites Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton, who will accompany Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings (10/28, 1pm., Paramount). Sosin and Seaton will also perform as part of a special afternoon program of Jewish music and film featuring His People and West Bank Story. The program will also feature Charlottesville-based singing group Haverim (10/29, 1pm, Paramount). Local composer Matthew Marshall will accompany Mary Pickford’s Sparrows (10/29, 3pm) at the Scottsville Victory Theatre.
The vibrant music scene of Charlottesville gets its own spotlight this year. Live From The Hook, a new documentary on the local music scene, focuses on Bob Girard, Charlie Pastorfield and their passionate and dogged commitment to rock n’ roll, from their Skip Castro band days to the present. The film will screen as a work-in-progress on Saturday night, October 28 at 8pm at The Paramount, accompanied by a concert by longtime regional favorite Johnny Sportcoat and the Casuals with an all-star Charlottesville jam. Also on the music front is Before the Music Dies (10/27, 10pm, Newcomb), a compelling look at the boom in alternative, independent music that is countering the corporate dilution of music’s variety. The film highlights Charlottesville-based ATO Records as a company that has consistently promoted music that has been tossed on the corporate scrap heap. According to Herskowitz, the films belong in Revelations because “they demonstrate that this community values music that comes from the soul and serves a higher purpose than the bottom line.”
Behind The Scenes: A Festival Symposium with Harry Chotiner is a four-day class that will introduce college and adult learners to leading screenwriters, directors and producers. Chotiner, an NYU film teacher and former Vice President at Twentieth Century Fox, will convene the group seven times over the course of the festival weekend for behind-the-scenes discussions with Festival guests. The symposium is limited to twenty students and the fee is $150 (visit www.vafilm.com/symposium/ for an application form). The fee includes tickets to selected Festival screenings and a special visit to the set of Cavalier Films’ new feature production in Staunton.
Filmmakers Jeff Wadlow and Beau Bauman are returning for the third year to mentor thirty filmmakers in a three-day filmmaking blitz The Volvo Adrenaline Film Project will once again test the creativity and stamina of several groups of filmmakers who are tasked with creating a film in 72 short hours.
The Regal Film Workshop will feature two interactive clip presentations by the lively and knowledgeable film scholar, Terry Lindvall, the C. S. Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan College. Spectacular Transcendence: African American Christianity on Film (10/27, 10:30am, Regal Downtown #2) and Hollywood, Teach Us to Pray (10/28, 10:30am, Regal Downtown #2) feature hundreds of illuminating film clips collected by Lindvall.
The Darden Producers Forum will welcome producer Mark Gordon, producer of past successes Speed and Saving Private Ryan, upcoming feature The Hoax, and TV series Grey’s Anatomy (10/26, 1:20pm, Darden School of Business).
Part One of this year’s special Focus on Scandinavian Cinema is a series of four Danish and Swedish films addressing spiritual themes with a transcendental style—Carl Dreyer’s Ordet, Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, and Annette Olsen’s In Your Hands. Film discussions will be moderated by visiting Danish film scholar Anne Jesperson. Part Two will feature a groundbreaking new program that will take film lovers across the ocean. For the first-ever Virginia Film Festival Film Travel Seminar, created in conjunction with The University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Jesperson and Herskowitz will conduct a week-long film program based in Copenhagen in May of 2007. Participants will attend screenings in archives, visit studios, and meet with filmmakers in Denmark and Sweden. For more information on the Seminar, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Virginia Film Festival is hosted by the University of Virginia. For more information on the Virginia Film Festival and the year-round activities and events of the Virginia Film Society, visit www.vafilm.com .