Film festivities


Dear Ace: I’ve been on a cinema kick since crashing The Paramount Theater’s Oscar Night Party last weekend, and I’m jonesing to get back to the celluloid buffet. Sadly, the Virginia Film Festival won’t be happening again for a while. What other noteworthy picture shows should my fellow film buffs and I be aware of in the short term?—Fishing-for-Reels-in-Charlottesville

The malaise a cinemaphile feels the day after the Academy Awards rivals the inevitable annual post-Christmas/New Year’s serotonin crash that marks the onset of true winter. How does Ace deal with the disappointment of having his Oscar expectations both dashed and fulfilled? Dear reader, he could write a book about his coping rituals, but let’s just say they involve repeated viewings of the 1979 Best Picture Kramer vs. Kramer and Ace muttering to himself in the dark.

But that’s not the question you asked. Fortunately, yours is an easy inquiry to answer. Just this week alone, no less than three themed film festivals will hold showings in Charlottesville, so without further ado, Ace will shine the spotlight on each.

On Tuesday, March 8, the Virginia Film Society will be screening selected shorts from the 29th Black Maria Film & Video Festival at The Paramount Theater. Named for the world’s first motion picture studio, built by Thomas Edison in West Orange, New Jersey in 1893, the Black Maria Film Festival broadly celebrates artistic and humanistic achievement in independent short film. Highlights include The Solitary Life of Cranes, about the lives of building crane operators in London.

Then, on March 11 in the Monticello High School auditorium, and again on the 12th at Charlottesville High School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Performing Arts Center, the New York City-based Sprout Film Festival will showcase a variety of documentary and narrative films about developmental disability. Screening both local and international films, the Festival aims to “make the invisible visible.” Proceeds will support My Turn, Your Turn, an interactive DVD project featuring the music of local composer Cathy Bollinger.

Finally, on March 14 and 15, Canada’s 34th Banff Mountain Film Festival will present 13 films at The Paramount Theater that loosely fall into the mountain culture, rock climbing cinematic milieu. It also includes a documentary about Roz Savage, a British woman who rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a short called Project Megawoosh, the saga of German engineer Bruno Kammerl’s quest to perfect the world’s tallest human water slide.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 21 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to