Virginia Film Festival opens with Nebraska and highlights local talent

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Will Forte stars in the Virginia Film Festival's opening feature Nebraska. Image courtesy of VFF. Will Forte stars in the Virginia Film Festival's opening feature Nebraska. Image courtesy of VFF.

The Virginia Film Festival has announced the schedule for the 2013 Festival, which will take place from November 7-10. It’s the festival’s 26th year, and the fifth with Jody Kielbasa as the festival director; the past 4 years have all broken attendance records, and expectations are high. The festival will again showcase contemporary films making the festival circuit and due for imminent release, as well as foreign features, shorts, local films, documentaries, and a handful of classics.

Opening night begins with a film by Alexander Payne, whose Oscar-winning The Descendents opened the 2011 program; Payne’s newest is Nebraska, a father-son drama starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte. Forte, best known for his comedic roles on Saturday Night Live and in MacGruber, will appear as one of the guests at the 2013 festival to present the film. (The program also includes the critically-panned but cultishly-beloved MacGruber itself; “Come on, you gotta do it,” Kielbasa explained.) August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, Cannes Palm-D’or winner Blue is the Warmest Color, and the Cormac McCarthy-penned, James Franco-directed Child of God are films that Charlottesville viewers will have a chance to see before they find wider release.

Documentaries and locally-produced films are again a focus of the festival line-up; Saturday night’s centerpiece film is CLAW, Billy Hunt’s documentary about the Charlottesville-based Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers. The festival schedule includes several other promising and intriguing docs, including The Armstrong Lie, Bible Quiz, Remote Area Medical, and Vannin.’ Another intriguing local production is the “gay werewolf movie” Faux Paws, pairing the talents of prolific locals Brian Wimer and Doug Barie.

Though the festival under Kielbasa’s tenure features far fewer older films than in past decades, there are still several dotting the schedule, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, whose star, Tippi Hedron, will be on hand to discuss the making of the film and her notoriously contentious relationship with the director. 1957’s The Court Jester will be screened to mark the 100th birthday of star Danny Kaye, and the recent passing of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen will be noted with a screening of the charming and family-friendly The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, which showcases his groundbreaking stop-motion animation. The festival’s Family Day will feature Disney’s 1953 adaptation of Peter Pan, (a curious choice given the film’s shocking racism).

The Adrenaline Film Festival, a 72-hour crash-filmmaking competition, will return again this year, as will the festival’s digital media center at Second Street Gallery, which will feature work by prolific local art-filmmaker Kevin Everson and shorts produced by teens at LightHouse Studios. The festival runs from Thursday, November 7 – Sunday, November 10th, and includes an Opening Night Gala at the Jefferson Theater and a wrap party at the Main Street Arena. Tickets are available starting October 11 at 12:01 am at virginiafilmfestival.org and by calling (434) 924-3376.

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