Virginia Film Society Opens Spring 2006 Season with Sneak Preview of <I>Winter Passing</I>

February 10, 2006

February 10, 2006 — The Virginia Film Society kicks off its 2006 spring season with the Feb. 25 sneak preview of “Winter Passing,” produced by University of Virginia alumnus David Koplan and directed and written by Adam Rapp, acclaimed as one of the country’s most dynamic playwrights. Rapp and Koplan will be on hand for discussion after the screening. In this Yari Film Group release, Ed Harris stars as a renowned novelist and neglectful father, Will Ferrell plays an odd wannabe musician who takes care of him and Zooey Deschanel is the estranged daughter who returns for a difficult reunion with Harris.

Rapp will also meet with U.Va. drama and creative writing students while he is in Charlottesville. Rapp’s play “Nocturne” is the highlight of a special course created at U.Va. to expose drama students to exciting new American playwrights. Students will perform a staged reading of the play and discuss the work with the playwright. 

The “Winter Passing” preview is cosponsored by the Film Society and Cinematheque, and will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. in Newcomb Hall Theater. Admission is $8 public, $5 U.Va. students and free to Film Society members (membership information is at the end of this release). Advance tickets will go on sale on Monday, Feb. 13 at Newcomb Box Office, online at, by phone at (434) 924-7314 and will also be available at the door.

The second sneak preview is the drama-comedy “Duane Hopwood,” which stars David Schwimmer, Jeaneane Garafolo and Dick Cavett, on March 14. Director and screenwriter Matt Mulhern will discuss his film, an IFC Films release that was a sensation at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“The Virginia Film Society aims to keep the Virginia Film Festival’s rich dialogues with film makers, scholars, and audiences going all year long. We’re bringing some exciting new directors and critics to town to present and discuss films with our lively audience of film buffs,” said Richard Herskowitz, director of the Virginia Film Festival.   

In addition to the sneak previews, an eclectic brew of dramatic, experimental and documentary fare is scheduled for the Virginia Film Society’s spring season.

In conjunction with the Festival of the Book, the society will screen “Sherlock Jr.” and “The Playhouse” on March 22, silent comedy classics directed by and starring the great Buster Keaton. Edward McPherson, author of “Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat,” will discuss the silent film legend and his films after the screening. Matt Marshall, Anna L. Krome-Lukens and Elizabeth Leverage will provide live music accompaniment.

The Black Maria Film and Video Festival returns on April 5. John Columbus, the festival’s director, will present work by cutting-edge independent film and video makers at the annual international juried competition and award tour, which comes to Charlottesville for the 12th year.

Director Adam Watstein and producer Jennifer Lyne will be in Charlottesville for two nights, April 25 and 26, to share their inventive improvisational approach to filmmaking.  “Off the Hook,” portrays two friends struggling to make it as hip-hop musicians in the South Bronx. “Loudmouth Soup,” which depicts a couple’s first dinner party in Hollywood, was shot in one night with seven actors, eight cameras and no script.

The spring schedule concludes on May 9 with the documentary “Shakespeare Behind Bars,” a behind-the-scenes look at a production of “The Tempest” by convicted felons inside a Kentucky prison. U.Va. drama department assistant professor Betsy Tucker, who has worked on theater with U.Va. students and women at the Fluvanna Women’s Correctional Facility, will speak following the screening.

All Virginia Film Society events are co-sponsored by the Virginia Film Festival and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, with the support of the Omni Hotel Charlottesville. Screenings feature special guest speakers and are held at Vinegar Hill Theatre at 7 p.m. (except for“Winter Passing”). Admission to individual screenings is $8 and free to Film Society members.

Spring membership for the Virginia Film Society is $30 ($25 for students and seniors). Membership benefits include admission to seven spring season screenings, a free pass to Regal Cinemas, $2 off Mondays at Sneak Reviews (non-new releases only) and $6 Tuesday movies at Vinegar Hill. Film Society memberships and individual admission tickets can be purchased 30 minutes before the screening at the venue box office. Memberships can also be purchased by mail using our membership order form available in our Spring Season brochure and online at

For more information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, or to view the full spring season schedule, visit

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Spring 2006 Virginia Film Society

Sneak Preview of Yari Film Group release!
Saturday, Feb. 25 @ Newcomb Hall Theater, 6 p.m.
With producer David Koplan (U.Va. ’93) and director/screenwriter Adam Rapp
Starring Zooey Deschanel, Ed Harris and Will Ferrell.
Acclaimed playwright Adam Rapp’s first feature film is centered around twentysomething struggling actress Reese Holden (Zooey Deschanel), who has fallen on hard times and is reluctantly drawn into a reunion with her distant (and distanced) father, a highly respected novelist played by Ed Harris. Her father has become increasingly reclusive since the death of his wife. Reese’s motives for mending her relationship with him are dubious at first – she has been promised $100,000 by a book editor to find and produce letters exchanged between her late mother and her father.  After making the journey from New York City to Michigan, Reese finds her father living with two young roommates – a former student of his (Amelia Warner), and an odd wannabe musician played by Will Ferrell in his first semi-serious role. The strong supporting cast also includes Amy Madigan and a second face from Saturday Night Live, Rachel Dratch.
Co-sponsored by the U.Va. Drama Department.

Sneak Preview of IFC Films release!
Tuesday, March 14 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.
With director Matt Mulhern
Starring David Schwimmer, Janeane Garafolo, Dick Cavett
David Schwimmer stars as the titular Duane, a down-on-his-luck divorced father who works the night shift as a pit boss at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City. Heartsick about the demise of his marriage to Linda (Janeane Garofolo), Duane does nothing much in his daily life but work and drink.  When his visitation rights are threatened after he’s caught driving while intoxicated with his daughter in the backseat, Duane confronts the realization that the time has come to get his life back on track before he loses everything.  “Writer-director Matt Mulhern confidently anchors his drama-comedy about an alcoholic Atlantic City pit boss with good writing and sharp dialogue” (Robert Koehler, Variety).
Co-sponsored by the U.Va. Drama Department.


Cosponsored with the Virginia Festival of the Book!
Wednesday, March 22 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p. m.
With guest Edward McPherson, author of “Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat,”and live music performed by Matt Marshall, Anna L. Krome-Lukens and Elizabeth Leverage.
Buster Keaton’s stone-faced slapstick comedy and deadpan delivery may be the reasons he is still renowned as an actor, but his greatest achievements were those he undertook behind the camera, as filmmaker. In these two classic comedies, Keaton performs, but his ingenious direction stars. Playing meta-cinematic games in each case, Keaton displays amazing inventiveness. “Sherlock Jr.” features a film within a dream within a film, while, in “The Playhouse,”he appears to play the part of every performer on stage and viewer in the audience. Paired with insights from author Edward McPherson and an original score by Matt Marshall for synthesizer, clarinet and viola, this performance should be a feast for fans of silent comedy.

Wednesday, April 5 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.
With Festival director John Columbus
John Columbus returns to Charlottesville for the twelfth year with the traveling Black Maria Film and Video Festival. The annual event is an international juried competition and award tour, with a mission to exhibit and reward cutting edge works from independent film and videomakers. The standout short films and festival winners go on the road as Columbus exhibits his selections around the country. Each individual program is custom tailored, ensuring an accessible and meaningful experience for varied audiences from city to city. From animation to experimental, satire to documentary, the range of selection is comprehensive enough to please all tastes.

Two Nights with Adam Watstein and Jennifer Lyne
Tuesday, April 25 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7pm
With director Adam Watstein and producer Jennifer Lyne
Watstein and Lyne are a talented team who make inventive, improvised films. Based on the true story of South Bronx native Walter Velasquez, who stars, the film tells the story of two young men, Walter and Lorenzo, who have formed a rap group and are about to cut their first record. When Lorenzo’s sister becomes pregnant with Walter’s child and Lorenzo is sent to jail on drug charges, their bonds of loyalty and friendship are put to the test. The Village Voice called it “a South Bronx homage to ‘Mean Streets’” and the New York Daily News found it “Powerful and sensitive…Unlike most inner-city stories that come out of Hollywood, this feels like the real thing.”
Co-sponsored by Brown College.

Wednesday, April 26 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.
With director Adam Watstein and producer Jennifer Lyne
Seven Actors. Eight cameras. No script, and all shot in one night. Director Adam Watstein took on a daunting project. The idea was to film a couple’s first dinner party in Hollywood and document the awkward minutiae of the relationships between characters jockeying for position in the movie world. Working in the tradition of John Cassavetes and Mike Leigh, Watstein gave each actor objectives, rather than dialogue, and no one knew whose objectives were what. The results are genuine reactions and emotions that fiction films rarely capture. Shooting for the film lasted a total of eight hours, and the cameras stopped only to change tape. The blend of realism and awkward social mores spurred Time Out New York to describe the film as “‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ meets ‘The Anniversary Party’.”

Tuesday, May 9 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.
With guest speaker Betsy Tucker (U.Va. drama department)
This an unexpectedly delightful documentary follows the casting, rehearsal and presentation of Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest,” by convicted felons inside Kentucky’s Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Winner of eight film festival awards, “Shakespeare Behind Bars” smashes many of our long-held notions about prisoners and criminals as we watch these remarkably unique actors prepare. Ultimately, we get to see the human psyche unfold in all of its complexities, as these men, ostracized from society, reveal their kindness, generosity and faith. “A remarkable, moving experience. Surprising and satisfying. The film poses tough questions about the nature of forgiveness [with] a generosity of spirit.” — James Greenberg, Hollywood Reporter
Co-sponsored by the U.Va. Drama Department.