The recently completed 2014 Virginia Film Festival smashed its previous box office record by a remarkable 45.6 percent and set a new mark for tickets issued.
Festival officials announced Wednesday that the 2014 festival, which concluded Sunday, set all-time records at the box office with $174,946 in ticket sales, topping the previous mark of $120,000, set last year. This year’s festival issued 28,609 tickets and featured 41 sold-out screenings.
“By every conceivable measure, this was a historic Virginia Film Festival,” said festival director Jody Kielbasa, vice provost for the arts at the University of Virginia, the festival’s presenting sponsor. “We are obviously thrilled with the record-breaking numbers and with the extraordinarily positive feedback we heard throughout the weekend.
“I really believe that this year represented a seismic shift in terms of our impact on this community. Everywhere you went throughout the weekend, there was a palpable energy and an unwavering level of enthusiasm around the screenings and around the festival as a whole, and the clear sense that the festival has reached another level in its development, and is poised for even bigger things,” Kielbasa said.
The festival’s opening night screening of “Big Stone Gap” set the tone for the weekend, he said, with the cast in attendance, including Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson and Jenna Elfman.
“That was a landmark event for us, in that it represented a sort of perfect storm that showcased a film made in Virginia, by a Virginian, and about Virginia, in the presence of its cast members and of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and three of his former gubernatorial predecessors, including Sen. Tim Kaine, Linwood Holton and Gerald Baliles – who was of course instrumental in founding the festival 27 years ago,” he said.
“The excitement only built from there, thanks in part to an extraordinary guest list that included everyone from Hal Holbrook to Frank Langella to Richard Roundtree, Katie Couric and more, all of whom gave our audiences unforgettable moments.”
What was equally remarkable, Kielbasa said, was how that enthusiasm spread throughout the festival’s entire program of more than 120 films.
“Thanks in part to the efforts of our festival programmer, Wesley Harris, who once again did a remarkable job this year, we heard from, and continue to hear from, countless patrons and filmmakers about the remarkable depth and breadth of our program,” Kielbasa said.
In addition, a record number of filmmakers came to Charlottesville this year to present their work. Kielbasa estimated that more than 150 filmmakers, actors and other industry guests attended the festival.
“In addition to sharing these new voices and talents with our audiences, this also builds excitement and momentum for the festival, as these people see and experience all we have to offer,” he said. “We received incredibly positive feedback from these filmmakers throughout the weekend and continue to hear from them about how amazed they were by the whole experience.”
For information on the Virginia Film Festival, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org.