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Opening Night Film – The Descendants starring George Clooney

The Virginia Film Festival is returning for its 24th year from November 3-6, 2011, with a lineup of more than 100 films and a long list of special guests set to bring some serious star power to Charlottesville.

This year the Virginia Film Festival will welcome an outstanding array of special guests including director Oliver Stone, Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek and her husband, the acclaimed art director Jack Fisk,  and rising star Mia Wasikowska, who starred as Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and won raves for her performance in The Kids Are All Right. Wasikowska will be appearing along with director Rodrigo Garcia and the film’s producers, U.Va. graduate Julie Lynn and Bonnie Curtis, to discuss the new film Albert Nobbs, which stars Glenn Close.

Publishing magnate Larry Flynt, will return to Charlottesville to present a 15th Anniversary screening of his Academy Award-nominated film The People vs. Larry Flynt, and participate in a special discussion presented by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Other guests include actress and comedian Rachael Harris, noted film historian and television personality Ben Mankiewicz, host of Turner Classic Movies on TNT, noted producer and U.Va. alumnus Paul Junger Witt, who will be presenting his latest film, A Better Life; celebrated family farmer, author and activist Joel Salatin (appearing with the film Farmageddon) and colorful chef and school food reformer Tony Geraci (appearing with the film Cafeteria Man).

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The film lineup includes

Opening Night Film – “The Descendants”
Alexander Payne’s story of a rather uninvolved dad (George Clooney) forced by a tragic accident into a new level of engagement that sends him toward discoveries he never could have imagined.

Centerpiece Film – “Albert Nobbs”
Glenn Close stars as the title character in Rodrigo Garcia’s tale of a 19th Century Irish woman who hatches a plan to dress like a man in order to make her way in the world and get a job as a butler – a role Close originated onstage in 1982.

Closing Night Film – “Thin Ice”
Academy Award-nominee Greg Kinnear is a slick-talking salesman determined to use his powers of persuasion to engineer an elaborate con and change his life, until he meets up with a mysterious man who more than challenges him at his own game.

Spotlight Films
· The Artist – This wildly creative and ambitious new silent film from French filmmaker Michael Hazanavicius traces the fall of a prominent silent film star in 1927, just as “talkies” enter the picture and change moviemaking forever.

· A Dangerous Method – Acclaimed writer and director David Cronenberg’s latest film, a look inside the complicated intellectual love triangle that included Karl Jung, Sigmund Freud and the woman whose role in their lives had fascinating and lasting consequences for modern psychotherapy.

· We Need to Talk About Kevin – Tilda Swinton stars in this tale of a mother’s chilling quest to understand the reasons behind her 15- year-old son’s school killing spree, and what responsibility she bears for the events.

· Melancholia –A bride’s best laid plans spin wildly out of control just as a far greater danger threatens existence itself in Lars von Trier’s acclaimed film that earned Kirsten Dunst top acting honors at Cannes.

· Martha Marcy May Marlene – Elizabeth Olsen is earning raves across the board for her star-making performance as a young girl looking to reconnect with her family after escaping a cult.

· Butter – Jennifer Garner stars as the scorned but determined wife of a retiring champion butter carver (played by Hugh Jackman), who vows to carry on the family’s championship tradition herself rather than ceding the stage to a young African American upstart in this sharp political satire from director Jim Field Smith.

Special Event Screenings

· JFK – Featuring Oliver Stone – Presented in association with the U.Va. Center for Politics

The Virginia Film Festival is proud to welcome Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter Oliver Stone to present a 20th Anniversary screening of his famed 1991 film JFK. Stone will then join Dr. Larry J. Sabato, head of the U.Va. Center for Politics, for a special discussion of the film.

· The People Vs. Larry Flynt – 15th Anniversary Screening with Larry Flynt

In 1997, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt appeared at the Virginia Film Festival for a special screening of Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt. The self-described “pornographer, pundit and social outcast,” was in Charlottesville for a conference with his longtime legal and ideological adversary Jerry Falwell to discuss the ten year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case that would forever link their names in First Amendment history. The organizer of the conference, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, has again arranged for Flynt to visit Charlottesville for a 15th anniversary screening of The People v. Larry Flynt followed by a discussion on his many First Amendment battles.

· Badlands – with Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk

Charlottesville’s own Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek and her husband, the renowned art director Jack Fisk, will be on hand for a special screening and discussion of the 1973 Terence Malick classic Badlands, the film on which the couple first met.

· Cafeteria Man

Childhood obesity is one of the most important health issues in our nation today, and at the top of the priority list for school systems across the country. Cafeteria Man is the story of dynamic chef Tony Geraci, who is combining his culinary talent with his own passion for the issue by spearheading the “greening” of the Baltimore city schools’ menu, and will share in a special discussion with area school and health officials.

Turner Classic Movies and the Library of Congress Celebrate the National Film Registry with Special Guest Ben Mankiewicz

This year the Virginia Film Festival is proud to be participating in a one-of-a-kind partnership with the Library of Congress and Turner Classic Movies to highlight a special series of films on the National Film Registry.

“This is a project we have been working on for the better part of a year,” Kielbasa said. “We are thrilled and honored to partner with both the Library of Congress and Turner Classic Movies to highlight these films that have been chosen for their cultural and historical significance to be part of the National Film Registry. It also allows us to celebrate the extraordinary preservation work being done by the Library of Congress right up the road in Culpeper, Virginia (work that is showcased in the fascinating and important film These Amazing Shadows). This is a great opportunity for film lovers to see these cultural treasures as they were intended to be seen, in beautifully restored and preserved 35 mm prints.”

The series will include:

· Badlands (1973) – Featuring Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk

· The General (1926) – 85th Anniversary screening Featuring live musical accompaniment by Matt Marshall and the Reel Music Ensemble

· National Velvet (1944) – Showcase film of VFF Family Day

· McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) – 40th Anniversary Screening

· The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1944) – Preserved in-house at the National Audiovisual Conversation Center at the Library of Congress Packard Campus

A 45th Anniversary Celebration of Kartemquin Films – Featuring A Good Man
The festival will celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the founding of Kartemquin Films (www.kartemquin.com) with a series of screenings highlighted by A Good Man, which focuses on legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones’ Lincoln-inspired piece.

“Over its remarkable history, Kartemquin has captured the heart and soul of American society in ways few others have ever done,” Kielbasa said, “addressing issues ranging from the struggles faced by inner city youth to those faced by soldiers returning from battle and others seeking workers’ rights, to name just a few. It is particularly exciting for us to share A Good Man with audiences and to welcome its subject, the legendary Bill T. Jones, back to the University, which plays a big role in the related short film 100 Migrations, which we will also be screening.”

The festival will also welcome Kartemquin co-founder Gordon Quinn, along with filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams), a legend in the documentary filmmaking world, for a series of six full-length documentaries and three short films. They will include James’ The Interrupters, which takes a fascinating look at the extreme interventional steps being made by some in inner city Chicago to help stem the tide of youth violence.

The A Good Man screening and post-film discussion will be shared in a live broadcast to Virginia Tech as part of the 4VA Program. The live broadcast was initiated and organized by the Virginia Film Festival, the U.Va. Department of Drama and the U.Va. Office of the Vice President and Chief Information Officer. The 4VA Program uses state funds and technology donated by Cisco to link the campuses of the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University and George Mason University.

Bill T Jones’ residency is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, U.Va. Department of Drama, U.Va. Arts Council and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The Loving Story
“Fascinating documentaries have long been at the heart of the Virginia Film Festival experience,” Kielbasa said, “and this year is no exception. Among this year’s highlights are The Loving Story, which chronicles the tale of Richard and Mildred Loving, the Virginia interracial couple who, in the 1960’s took their battle for acceptance all the way to the Supreme Court, and changed history in the process.” The film will be presented along with a panel discussion organized by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The Loving Story will also be presented in a special high school screening at the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center.

Food On Film
“From the explosion of cooking-themed TV programming to the serious issues of health, nutrition and sustainability,” Kielbasa said, “it’s clear that food is now a major ingredient in our cultural consumption. We decided to explore that a little further this year with a series of films that explore food-related issues around the world, and quite literally right in our own backyard.”

This series will include:

· El Bulli: Cooking in Progress – A look behind the scenes as one of the world’s most famous restaurants shuts down for its annual tasting and testing process which results in its highly anticipated menu

· Cafeteria Man – Chronicling the revolutionary efforts of New Orleans-born chef Tony Geraci to “green” the menu of Baltimore City Schools

· Farmageddon – The story of how small family farms are facing significant economic and bureaucratic hurdles in their attempts to provide safe and healthy foods. The film will be accompanied by a panel discussion featuring internationally renowned family farmer, author and activist Joel Salatin.

· Growing Up Cason – The film tells the story of one of Albemarle County’s most prominent, and colorful, farming families

Focus on Israel
The festival has partnered with representatives from the Embassy of Israel and Congregation Beth Israel to program a special series celebrating that nation’s outstanding film scene. The films will include Human Resources Manager, a black comedy (and winner of three Israeli Academy Awards) about one man’s transcontinental search for redemption after he is blamed for the death of a co-worker; Infiltration, military drama set just after the nation’s War of Independence that follows one platoon’s struggles at training camp; Restoration, an official Toronto Film Festival selection about a man’s herculean efforts to hold onto the antique restoration shop that has been his life’s work and 2-Night, an atypical love story of a couple whose relationship is launched during the search for a parking space.

The series will be grouped with a quartet of films focusing on Jewish themes and culture. They include David, a cultural coming of age story of an 11-year-old Muslim boy caught between cultural and family expectations and a new group of Jewish boys he befriends. Other films in this series will include Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, La Rafle, and In Darkness (Poland’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film this year).

Other highlight documentaries at the festival this year will include:

· Page One: Inside the New York Times – The look behind-the-scenes into the newsroom of the New York Times, featuring one of the film’s primary subjects, Brian Stelter

· !Women Art Revolution – Lynne Hershman-Leeson’s look at how the Feminist Art Movement transformed our culture and our times

· El Sicario:Room 164 – the story of a double-dealing Mexican hitman employed both by a powerful cartel and by the police

· Elevate – The story of Senegalese young men trying to achieve their college hoop dreams here in America – including U.Va. star Assane Sene, who will be on hand to discuss the film and his experiences.

· Armadillo – This documentary highlights the growing cynicism and adrenaline addiction of a group of Danish soldiers in Afghanistan

Spotlight on Virginia Filmmakers
Once again this year, the Virginia Film Festival is showcasing the work of filmmakers from throughout the Commonwealth in a series that will include short films and features.

“Each year I am more and more impressed by the quality and the depth of the filmmaking talent right here in our own backyard,” Kielbasa said. “Last year’s screening of The Parking Lot Movie was one of the highlights of the entire festival, and we are excited to share the work of a number of terrific Virginia filmmakers this year, highlighted by a program of short films by Kevin Everson, whose recent installation at the Whitney in New York won a rave from the New York Times, among others.”

World Visions – Foreign Films
In addition to Poland’s In Darkness, this year’s crop of foreign films at the Virginia Film Festival is highlighted by Hungary’s The Turin Horse and Greece’s Attenberg, two more award-winning features submitted by their respective countries for Best Foreign Film consideration at the Oscars next year. Other foreign films include:

· Salt of Life (Italy)

· 3 by Tom Tykwer (Germany)

· Curling (Canada)

· Family Instinct (Latvia)

· King of Devil’s Island (Norway)

· The Monk (France)

· The Nine Muses (Ghana/UK)

· Tyrannosaur (UK)

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