Photos: A Look Through the Lens at the 2021 Virginia Film Festival

October 31, 2021 By Caroline Challe, Caroline Challe,

The 2021 Virginia Film Festival ended a robust run Sunday night after offering more than 85 films to moviegoers and special guests.

The festival – a program of the University of Virginia and its offices of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts – opened Wednesday night with a screening of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” and continued throughout a long weekend with various highly anticipated screenings. 

After a hybrid (but mostly online) approach in 2020, this year’s festival welcomed guests back to the big screen with opportunities to see the films in theaters around Charlottesville. 

Check out some of the highlights below. 

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Two mean speaking in a hallway
University of Virginia President Jim Ryan, right, and Festival Director and UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa opened the festival with welcoming remarks. Both speakers highlighted their gratitude to patrons and staff members who made the festival possible. (Photo by Eze Amos)
Theater of people watching the stage
Guests gathered in The Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall to enjoy several of the film festival’s most anticipated films. The festival saw several sold-out shows, giving many moviegoers their first opportunities to watch a film in theaters since before the pandemic. Unless eating and drinking, guests were expected to be masked at all times and to show proof of vaccination in certain venues. (Photo by Eze Amos)
Woman on stage speaking while two men on a split zoom screen listen
The film “9/11: Inside the President’s War Room” looked at never-before-seen footage and interviews with former President George W. Bush and his top aides to examine the response of the administration directly following the deadly terrorist attacks. After the screening, William Antholis, CEO of UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, held a discussion with former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove (both via live video conference), and former ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton. (Photo by Jack Looney)
Woman sitting on stage with microphone listening to audience question
Mother Lena Mae Perry is the co-founder of the Branchettes, a celebrated gospel group from North Carolina that was the focus of the 2021 documentary, “Stay Prayed Up.” At an event sponsored by UVA’s Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Perry spoke with audience members, offering them unique insights into the group and the documentary. (Photo by Coe Sweet)
Two people sitting on a stage with microphones speaking to the audience
UVA professor and world-renowned filmmaker Kevin Everson spoke on his collection of short films, which combine historical narratives with modern social issues. Claudrena Harold, a UVA history professor and co-director of the film “Pride,” joined Everson for a conversation about the films after the screening. (Photo by Tom Daly)
Windows with signs advertising the Virginia Film Festival
The Downtown Mall’s reflection caught in the windows of the Violet Crown Theater, which hosted several film festival events. (Photo by Jack Looney)

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People in a theatre watching Civil War monuments being removed on a movie screen
The film festival highlighted several movies with roots in Virginia, including “How the Monuments Came Down,” a film revealing the links between Confederate monuments and Richmond’s historic ties to white supremacy. The narrative follows protesters’ demands to take these statues down and their eventual success. A discussion with filmmakers Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren followed the film. They were joined by Joseph Rogers, the film’s story adviser and great-great-great-great-grandson of James Apostle Fields, an enslaved laborer in Virginia. (Photo by Coe Sweet)
Man, left, speaking to a woman, right, on stage during the VA film festival
Martha Plimpton, Emmy and Tony award winner, took to the stage to answer questions and speak with film festival guests. Plimpton’s latest film, “Mass,” shown on Saturday, explores the lives of two couples after a violent tragedy. (Photo by Eze Amos)

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Molly Minturn

Content Specialist University of Virginia Library