Virginia Film Society Features 'Operation Filmmaker' at Oct. 7 Screening

September 18, 2008

September 23, 2008 — The Virginia Film Society continues its fall series with "Operation Filmmaker," featuring guest filmmaker Nina Davenport, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at Vinegar Hill Theatre.

In this project, Davenport chronicled two years in the troublesome life of aspiring Iraqi filmmaker Muthana Mohmed.

Mohmed was offered a position on the set of "Everything Is Illuminated" when that film's director, Liev Schreiber, saw an MTV report on the young filmmaker's plight in Iraq. However, the would-be protégé proves generally incompetent and squanders opportunity after opportunity.

David Edelstein of New York Magazine wrote, "Nina Davenport's stupendous documentary, 'Operation Filmmaker,' the story of a grand American liberal-humanitarian gesture gone kerflooey, is very alive — and morally disorienting to the point of inducing dementia."

"Our presentation of this fascinating documentary is both a coda to our 2006 film festival, which featured Liev Schreiber presenting 'Everything is Illuminated,' and a prelude to our 2008 festival, which will explore America's complex relationships with immigrant 'aliens' like Muthana Mohmed," Richard Herskowitz, Virginia Film Festival artistic director, said.
 
In 2007, Davenport screened the film as a work-in-progress at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, where it won the prestigious KNF Dutch Film Critic Award. Later that year, the completed film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

Its other awards include the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the American Film Institute's AFI Fest and Special Jury Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The Virginia Film Society is the yearlong extension of the Virginia Film Festival, the University of Virginia's annual four-day, theme-focused event. The festival features film screenings and commentary from U.Va. faculty experts and Hollywood insiders.

All Virginia Film Society events are co-sponsored by the Virginia Film Festival and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Most screenings feature guest speakers. Screenings are held at 7 p.m. at Vinegar Hill Theatre, 220 Market St., in downtown Charlottesville.

Admission to individual screenings is $9 and free to Film Society members. Individual admission tickets may be purchased 30 minutes before the screening when seats are available.

A full-year membership in the Virginia Film Society is $60 ($50 for students and seniors). Membership benefits include admission to the Film Society screenings throughout the year, one free pass to Regal Cinemas, $2 off Mondays at Sneak Reviews and $6 Tuesday movies at Vinegar Hill Theatre.

For information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, to download an application or to view the full fall season schedule, visit www.vafilm.com. For information about the Manhattan Short Film Festival, visit www.msfilmfest.com.

— By Jane Ford