The 2015 Virginia Film Festival have added more than 20 new films to the lineup. The Festival, presented by the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts, will take place from November 5-8 at venues throughout Charlottesville. The Festival also revealed that Alex Neustaedter, the young star of Ithaca, will join in a post-screening discussion that will include director Meg Ryan, actor Lois Robbins, and producer Janet Brenner. The 16-year-old Neustaedter portrays the lead role of Homer in this coming-of-age story about a small-town telegraph bicycle who delivers messages of love, hope, pain, and even death, to the good people of Ithaca, only to have one of those messages change his life forever.
Brooklyn – The profoundly moving story of Ellis Lacey (Saorise Ronan), a young Irish immigrant woman torn between two countries as she leaves behind the comforts of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City, where the intoxication of new love is challenged by the realities of her past.
Youth – Fred (Michael Caine), a retired orchestra conductor, is on holiday at a resort spa with his daughter and his film-director best friend Mick (Harvey Keitel), who is shooting what may be his final film there. As the two men face, and discuss, the twilight of their careers and lives, Fred receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip’s birthday.
Krisha – Following a prolonged battle with addiction and self-destruction, Krisha returns to the family she abandoned for a holiday celebration, only to see old wounds reopened. Writer/director Trey Edward Shults recreates painful incidents from his past, and casts family members to give the film, expanded from an award-winning 2014 short film of the same name, to achieve a uniquely authentic feel.
Paradise, FL – When his friend’s wife ends up in the hospital, a struggling gulf coast oyster fisherman moves in to care for the couple’s young kids, and finds himself fighting for a family he didn’t know he needed. (pictured above)
Heart of a Dog – Selected for competition in this year’s Venice International Film Festival after its September premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson’s meditation on love and death is playful, lucid, and heartbreaking. Sparked by the death of her beloved terrier Lolabelle, Anderson draws on her childhood experiences and political beliefs, using her own compositions, 8 millimeter films from her family archive, and animation to help guide the journey of Lolabelle’s spirit.
Lucifer – An angel falling from heaven to hell unexpectedly lands in a Mexican village where his presence affects the villagers in surprising ways. Lucifer is a mesmerizing, moving, and unique experiment in form, presented in director t Gust Van Den Berghe’s original format, Tondoscope, which features a lens he created for the film that allows it to be projected in a circular format.
Embrace of the Serpent – This epic story, inspired by the journals of the first explorers of the Colombian Amazon, Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes, encompasses the first contact, encounter, approach, betrayal, and, in the end, life-changing friendship between an Amazonian shaman who is the last survivor of his people and two scientists who spend 40 years in the Amazon in search of a sacred plant to heal them.