Tara's Take: Virginia Film Festival Preview

By: Tara Wheeler
By: Tara Wheeler

SO many films SO little time! Here's a consolidated look at some of the major events of the Virginia Film Festival

Just one glance at the 23rd Annual Virginia Film Festival Schedule is enough to make your head spin... and at at the same time, make any cinema fanatic jump up and cheer. If you're a little overwhelmed, here is a consolidated version with some highlights to consider checking out: courtesy of VFF PR phenom, John Kelly




Lights, Camera…Opening Night!

6:30PM – Culbreth Theatre

This year’s festival is starting with a bang…with a sold out performance of the Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan at Culbreth Theatre. The film stars Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder, and Mila Kunis in a dark, psychological thriller centered around the New York City Ballet.  I've been told there are a few tickets being sold on Craig's List so hurry if you want to snatch them up!

Opening Night Gala

9:30PM, Alumni Hall

An annual highlight each year, this event brings together festival participants, guests and fans for a gala celebration. Tickets are $75 and attire is cocktail. Enjoy a performance by the Charlottesville Ballet, live music from the ACME Swing Mfg. Co, great food, drinks, and more. I'll be there tonight so check back in for a peek at the exclusive event on the WAHU FOX 27 News at 10 and then log on to "Tara's Take" for a behind-the-scenes look at the Gala.


Freedom Riders – Special High School Screening

Noon – Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center – CHS

More than 1,000 local high school students from schools throughout the area will be on hand for this special screening of Freedom Riders, Stanley Nelson’s powerful documentary about the more than 400 Americans who, in 1961, stared down the dangers of racial tension in the Deep South to make a statement about segregation. The film will be followed by a panel discussion that will include three of the freedom riders themselves, filmmaker Stanley Nelson and Ken Stroupe of the U.Va. Center for Politics.

  • I'll be attending this showing so check back in for "Tara's Take" on the event as well as footage and interviews on ABC16/CBS19 during my entertainment block of "Charlottesville Tonight"


Digital Media Gallery

First Fridays Reception – 5-8:00PM

Located at the corner of 1st Street and the Downtown Mall, this unique art installation is dedicated specifically to the celebration of student and community film and video art. It features dynamic projection pieces presented in a hip gallery environment. The Digital Media Gallery is open throughout the festival.


Freedom Riders – Public Screening

6:00PM, Culbreth Theatre

This public screening will be followed at approximately 8:00PM by another panel discussion, this one moderated by Larry Sabato of U.Va.


Green Fairy Party

10PM – The Southern

This follow-up to last year’s “Dirty Pink Polyester Party” promises to be one of the dance parties of the year in Charlottesville, complete with fire dancers, LED dancers and plenty of fun for all.


Danger. Zombies. Run.

11PM – Regal 3 Downtown

Charlottesville filmmaker Brian Wimer’s horror film has already taken Charlottesville by storm with its innovative 5K. This 11PM screening is sure to bring more zombies out to play as well!



Family Day!

Last year’s smash-hit event, which drew more than 3,000 people to the Downtown Mall, is back with a full day of fun, and FREE events for the whole family.


Family Day Activities

  • Our very own marvelous meteorologists Melanie Niemann and Brantley Ussery will be there to teach future forecasters how to deliver the weather in front of a green screen from 12:00-2:00pm!

10:00AM-3:00PM – Downtown Mall

Once again this year the festival will create a film-themed street fair alongside the Paramount with performances by local dancers, singers and actors on our Central Place stage. Performers include the Academical Village People, the Monticello and Albemarle High Step Team, the Virginia Dance Club, Barycentric Theology Fire Spinning, the Agnor-Hurt Non-Stop Steppers and more. Events will also include blue screen film demonstrations, healthy snack tastings from Whole Foods and Relay Foods, interactive

3-D exhibits and more. Other highlights will include screenings from the “Young Filmmakers Academy,” made up of kids from a variety of elementary schools around the area.


Meanwhile, moviegoers will be treated to their own red carpet experience, partner juggling demonstrations, face painting, balloon animals and more!


Beauty and the Beast…and Belle!

10:30AM – Paramount Theater

The all-time Disney classic comes to the Paramount Theater for one special screening highlighted by an appearance by Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle! Paige will appear following the film to discuss her experiences working on it, and sing one or two of its most popular songs!


Louder Than a Bomb

1:15PM – Paramount Theater

Currently sweeping top awards on the festival circuit, this documentary follows a group of inner-city Chicago high-schoolers as they prepare for one of the nation’s biggest Poetry Slams. It’s an inspiring example of the power of both words and the human spirit. The film will be followed by a discussion featuring local spoken word artist Kevin Bostic, and artists Bernard Hankins and Anthony Amos in addition to local educator Trevor Przyuski.


The Last Picture Show

1:30PM – Culbreth Theatre

Legendary filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich will present his classic film, which established him as a major force on the entertainment scene and helped launch the careers of Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges. Bogdanovich will participate in a post-screening discussion on the film with noted critic David Edelstein. The discussion is scheduled to begin at approximately 3:30PM.



2:00PM – Newcomb Hall Theater

Director Tom Shadyac will be on hand to participate in a post-show documentary on his latest film, a documentary that asks “What is wrong with this world?” and “What can we do about it?” The film came as a result of his struggle with Post-Concussion Syndrome following a mountain biking accident and features interviews with many of the leading minds in the world today, including Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and others. Tom Shadyac will participate in a post-show discussion of the film, which should begin just after 3:15 PM.





6:00PM – The Paramount Theater

Local filmmakers Bill Reifenberger and Ben Clore will present their acclaimed film that charts the incredible growth of the Virginia wine industry, from its humble beginnings to the creation of the 2008 vintage. The screening will be followed by a discussion featuring a number of area winemakers, along with Reifenbeger and Clore, moderated by Cathy Harding of C-Ville.


The screening will be preceded at 5PM by a special wine tasting at the Paramount featuring a number of the wineries featured in the film.


The Adrenaline Film Project

Stories available throughout the festival weekend

Adrenaline Film Project Screening – 10:00PM – Culbreth Theatre

One of the most popular annual highlights of the Virginia Film Festival returns in this highly-caffeinated 72-hour film-making blitz headed up by Charlottesville’s own Jeff Wadlow. Twelve teams of filmmakers will be fanned out across the area making movies over the festival’s four days. They must concept, write, direct, edit and present them by Saturday night. Break out the Red Bull!

Late Night Wrap Party

10:00PM – Main Street Arena (Formerly Charlottesville Ice Park)

There is still plenty of more action on Sunday at the festival, but that is no reason we can’t celebrate on Saturday! And that is exactly what filmmakers, special guests, festival officials will do! Join in!


Breaking Bad

11:00AM – Culbreth Theatre

Creator and Executive Producer Vince Gilligan and Executive Producer and U.Va. graduate Mark Johnson will present a special live director’s commentary of one of the most acclaimed shows in all of television in this special FREE event. The AMC show has captured six Emmys in its three years, including three Best Actor statues for its star, Bryan Cranston.



1:15PM – Culbreth Theatre

Acclaimed local filmmaker Paul Wagner will present his latest film, a documentary about thoroughbred racing that takes its viewers around the globe, from Kentucky to Dubai, and explores the history and culture of the sport. It’s a fascinating portrait of one of the oldest and most revered sports, chronicling a year leading up to the 2009 Kentucky Derby.



6:00PM – Paramount Theater

Josh Radnor, the star of the hit CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother, will present his debut film, which he wrote, directed, starred-in and produced. The film chronicles six New Yorkers as they juggle love, friendship and their impending adulthood. The wryly funny film captured the prestigious Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It will be followed by a discussion of the film featuring Radnor and producer Glenn Williamson.


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