March 25, 2010 — The 23rd Annual Virginia Film Festival will return to Charlottesville from Nov. 4-7, a celebration of cinema and its unique power to inspire, enlighten and entertain.
The festival features a variety of films and filmmakers from around the world, highlights the wealth of talent in Virginia's own thriving film scene and spotlights scholars from the University of Virginia.
The festival is presented by U.Va.'s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Festival director Jody Kielbasa, now entering his second year on the job, has also announced a major change in the festival's format.
"This year we have decided to begin a new tradition in that the festival will not feature an overarching theme," he said. "I am particularly excited about this new format. It allows us to do something that is central to my vision for the festival moving forward – that is, it allows us to look at film through a contemporary lens, and continually engage our audiences in contemporary issues and topics.
"The other thing it allows us to do is expand the festival's cultural and intellectual reach by exploring a wider variety of themes. I envision addressing various issues through a series of sidebars and programs that allow us to dive into topics using the vast resources we have at the University, the rich cultural traditions here in Charlottesville and throughout Virginia, and our deep connections throughout the film industry."
Kielbasa arrived in Charlottesville in June after 10 years as the founding executive director of the Sarasota (Fla.) Film Festival. He had only five months before opening night of his first Virginia Film Festival.
"Last year, coming to town in June, there was a bit of a steep learning curve for me in terms of getting my head and heart around Charlottesville, the state and regional film scene, the University and more," he said.
The year has taught him that the Virginia Film Festival has all the potential he imagined it would when he came here – and much more.
"The more I learn about the rich talent here in the Virginia film scene and the more I see all that the region has to offer as a tourism destination, the more I realize that this is a festival that can and should take its place among some of the industry's highest profile annual events," he said. "When you add to this the treasure trove of cultural and intellectual resources afforded us by the University, and by this extraordinary community, there are virtually no limits to the festival's artistic possibilities."
Kielbasa is also quick to point out that while the festival will always pack a powerful intellectual and cultural punch, it will also always treat the community to plenty of good old-fashioned entertainment.
"Film can and should be a transformative experience, but I never want to lose sight of its innate ability to entertain us," he said. "With this in mind, we will continue to explore the influence of film on popular culture and vice versa. I am incredibly heartened by the way this community embraced last year's festival and want to program in a way that embraces them right back by delivering a dynamic experience that truly features something for everyone."
The Virginia Film Festival is made possible through sponsorships from Acura, Regal Entertainment Group, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Virginia Film Office, the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle and the AV Company.
The festival will unveil its 2010 program in late September. In the meantime, visit www.vafilm.com for the latest news about the festival, including schedules and announcements regarding the Virginia Film Society at the Paramount, a yearlong series at the historic theater.