Watch and learn

Watch and learn

As the weather gets chilly and the 20th annual Virginia Film Festival looms ahead, Curtain Calls gets more riled up than Chris Farley over the chance to let his body atrophy and his mind expand in the dark of the local cinemas. Here are your best bets for the fall:

The Bridge Fall Film Series: The bar is set high for the Belmont-based gallery, which has previously screened everything from experimental soccer documentaries (Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait) to Sarah Lawson’s excellent “Flicks by Chicks” series (including a slew of Miranda July short films). The season starts on Thursday with a screening of Magical Shadows, a collection of short flicks by German puppeteer Lotte Reiniger.

Bridge Film Series director (and occasional C-VILLE reviewer) James Ford is wrapped up in his work at the Virginia Film Festival at present, so the bi-weekly film series is dropping to one screening a month for the fall. But the rare screenings are all gems—catch the October 18 “Avant Garde Nightmares” event, which features a pair of modern slasher film send-ups, or UVA Art professor Kevin Everson’s collection of short films on November 15.

OFFScreen: Curt made it to the second film of the season (the delicately titled Wristcutters: A Love Story) presented by UVA’s student-run film organization, which started its weekly Sunday screenings in the fall of 1998 with screenings by French auteur (ooh la la) Jean-Luc Godard and American rambler Jim Jarmusch, among others. If Wristcutters—a gorgeously surreal black comedy about love in the afterlife featuring music and a performance by CC’s hero, Tom Waits—is any indication, the season will be a doozy.

recently took a turn towards documentaries, screening an enlightening-if-hard-to-stomach doc on food processing (Our Daily Bread) in the spring. It follows suit with the October 14 screening of Into Great Silence, the product of six months that director Philip Gröning spent living in a monastery in the French Alps. As monks are not big moviegoers, Gröning was limited to a single camera and no additional equipment; expect nearly three hours of hot, robed action! Sister Act it ain’t, but Curt is there.

Trailer for Into Great Silence.

One last must-see: CC pities the fool that misses the November 4 screening of Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain! OFFScreen brought Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World, the story of a beer baronness who hosts a mopey version of “American Idol,” in the fall of 2004. Richard Herskowitz, the director of the Virginia Film Festival, must’ve caught the screening—OFFScreen will present Brand as part of the Virginia Film Festival. Speaking of…

Trailer for Brand Upon the Brain!

The Virginia Film Society: Though not quite off to the strong opening it had in 2006 (Curt nearly choked on his kettle corn during last week’s packed preview screening of The Jane Austen Book Club, which couldn’t match 2006’s opening one-two punch of Little Miss Sunshine and Hollywoodland), the Film Society improves—drastically—starting with Wednesday’s screening of The Manhattan Short Film Festival, back again after a star’s reception in 2006.

Do we have cinema pride, or are we film prejudiced? The Virginia Film Society screened The Jane Austen Book Club to open its fall season. Start planning your movie marathons now!

Need a little more satisfaction? The Film Society announced that Albert Maysles, the director and cinematographer for dozens of films including the brilliant Rolling Stones documentary, Gimme Shelter, will introduce a selection of odds and ends spanning his career on October 10 at Vinegar Hill.

Film—it’s just a shot away. But let’s get some fresh air, huh?

St. Ours gets spooky

The cold weather might urge some folks indoors for marathon film screenings, but the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society is banking on spooking a few folks during the 13th annual Spirit Walk (October 26-28), in which a crew of local musicians and actors reanimate the area’s dearly departed. This year, local actor/director Mendy St. Ours (who is hitched to another film buff, Piraeus Pictures pirate Johnny St. Ours) takes on the role of artistic director. So what spooks Mendy?

The loveliest ghoul in town! Mendy St. Ours brings out the dead as artistic director for Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society’s annual Spirit Walk

“Community theater that is not Live Arts frightens me,” jokes St. Ours, who wowed LA audiences as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. “Waiting for Guffman is not funny at all in real life!”

St. Ours hit the ground running when she was first approached in June to direct the annual jaunt through local haunts. “I was surprised to find that I could cast this thing 10 times over,” says St. Ours. “There are so many peculiar people who used to walk the streets of Charlottesville.”

She quickly adds, “That shouldn’t surprise me, should it?”

While she plans to champion some long gone heroes (including Isabella Gibbons, a slave-turned-teacher at the Charlottesville Freedmen’s School), St. Ours has plans for a few scrappy characters, among them “Marguerite the town whore” and Texas Jack Omohundro, a close friend of Wild West legend Buffalo Bill.

“I am a little obsessed with the show ‘Deadwood,’ so I am trying to resist the urge to dress up as Calamity Jane and hang out with Texas Jack all weekend.”

So when will we next catch St. Ours in costume?

“Come hell or high water, I’ll be on stage or behind the scenes for Satch Huizenga’s Mother Courage and Her Children at Live Arts this spring,” she says.

St. Ours is still casting zombies of all kinds; give her a shout at to be a part of the living dead action. If you dare. Mwahaha!

Sorry. Don’t know what came over me.

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