19th Annual Virginia Film Festival Offers Hints of 'Revelations' to Come

September 06, 2006
Sept. 6, 2006 -- The hour of “Revelations” is still weeks away, but the Virginia Film Festival is so full of divine inspiration that it is sharing hints of what audiences can expect when the 19th annual event arrives from Oct. 26th-29th.

Festival Director and Guru Richard Herskowitz, is hard at work putting the finishing touches on Revelations: Finding God at the Movies, which will feature over one hundred films and speakers around the theme of spirituality and film.  The entire Festival schedule, along with other special announcements, will be released on Sept. 29.

In the meantime, based on the insights he is offering up today, the Festival will feature a special focus on the land of the Blue Ridge…and on the land of the midnight sun.

The annual weekend-long film lovers’ extravaganza will kick off with Swedish Auto, the highly acclaimed film by Charlottesville-bred filmmaker Derek Sieg.  Seig and producer Tyler Davidson are U.Va. alumni. Shot last year in Charlottesville, Swedish Auto was hailed as one of the highlights of the recent Los Angeles Film Festival.  It has earned strong reviews from The Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times and Variety, which called it “a study in state-of-the-art indie filmmaking.”

Swedish Auto is the story of an alienated auto mechanic who is drawn in by the gorgeous sounds of a local violinist.  He soon adjusts his life to her practice schedule and revels in the voyeuristic pleasure of listening as she unknowingly shares her talent and passion.  He learns he is not alone when he discovers that he is being followed by the counter girl who serves him each day at a local diner.    The relationship that ensues provides a charming, poignant and honest perspective on two people living life in the margins.

“We always like to showcase the emergence of home-grown talents, as we did in earlier years with opening night presentations of Nicole Kassell’s The Woodsman and Jeff Wadlow’s Tower of Babel,” Herskowitz said.  “Swedish Auto utilizes classic Charlottesville locations such as Mel’s Diner and the downtown mall wonderfully, and it has received remarkable and well-deserved buzz off of its debut at the LA Film Festival.  We are delighted to kick off our festival with this East Coast premiere event.”

Adding to the Virginia Film Festival’s local focus this year (and, coincidentally, to the Scandinavian flavor) will be the return of the Volvo Adrenaline Film Project.  Fast becoming one of the most popular events of the entire Festival weekend, the special feature will be sponsored this year for the first time by the Swedish auto company. 

Once again, this highly-caffeinated 72-hour filmmaking blitz will be helmed by Charlottesville native Jeff Wadlow with producing partner Beau Bauman, the pair behind last year’s feature release Cry_Wolf.  The 2005 Adrenaline final screening played to a sold-out Culbreth Theatre house and provided proof that the future of the Charlottesville film scene is bright as a group of local high-school students from Lighthouse Studio walked away with the coveted Jury Prize for their entry, Dead Ringer.

Also on the local front, two leading area filmmakers will be presenting films closely related to this year’s Festival theme. These films include God of a Second Chance by Paul Wagner and The Rebellion of Thought by Kent and Brad Williamson.

And back on the Scandinavian front, the Film Festival will be launching an ambitious, two-part Focus on Scandinavian Cinema.  Part One will take place during the festival, as classic selections will emphasize the rich tradition of Scandinavian spiritual cinema.  Beginning with Carl Dreyer’s Ordet, continuing with Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice and culminating with Annette Olsen’s recent Dogme 95 production, In Your Hands, the Festival will demonstrate the unmatched ability of Scandinavian filmmakers to produce spiritual experiences on film.  Anne Jesperson, a Danish film scholar who teaches at the University of Copenhagen and the European Film College in Ebeltoft, will introduce the films and moderate discussions.

Part Two of the Scandinavian focus will take place next May in Copenhagen and Stockholm, as Jesperson and Festival Director Richard Herskowitz will lead the VFF’s first International Film Travel Seminar.  Cosponsored with the U.Va. School of Continuing and Professional Education, the program will take participants to Denmark and Sweden to look at the historical and contemporary film traditions of these nations.  Those interested should email joangore@virginia.edu for more information.

The full schedule for the 19th Annual Virginia Film Festival will be released on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Tickets for all events will go on sale on Friday, Sept. 29.

The Virginia Film Festival is hosted by the University of Virginia.  For more information on the Festival and the year-round activities of the Virginia Film Society, or to follow the artistic process through the “Revelations of a Programmer” blog, visit www.vafilm.com.