Film fest announces lineup—mostly

Jody Kielbasa fills in the highlights of the 29th Virginia Film Festival.
Staff photo Jody Kielbasa fills in the highlights of the 29th Virginia Film Festival. Staff photo

Virginia Film Festival director Jody Kielbasa promised today “the best program in my eight years at the festival” for this year’s November 3-6 cinemathon. The 29th festival will include screen legends Shirley MacLaine and Liv Ullman, and auteur Werner Herzog.

What Kielbasa did not reveal was the opening night film, typically a made-in-Virginia effort. He gave that honor to Governor Terry McAuliffe, who will reveal the mystery film on Thursday.

The centerpiece film will be the North American premiere of The Promise, the German-made documentary of the 1985 murders of the Haysoms, which riveted Central Virginia and put UVA students Elizabeth Haysom, their daughter, and Jens Soering, her besotted boyfriend, behind bars. Soering, who has maintained his innocence, recently filed a petition for absolute pardon.

“Eastbound & Down”‘s Danny McBride, a Richmond native, will be on hand to screen two episodes of his new series, “Vice Principals.”

Catch a young George Stephanopoulos and James Carville in the screening of The War Room, the D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus documentary of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential run. The filmmakers and Clinton adviser Paul Begala will be around for the Larry Sabato-moderated discussion of the film.

Herzog, 72, director of Fizcarraldo and Grizzly Man, brings his newest film, Into the Inferno.

Other film highlights include a restoration of the 1985 Akiro Kurosawa film Ran, Contemporary Color featuring David Byrne and St. Vincent, Mifune: The Last Samurai, a documentary on the Japanese actor, and The Love Witch, which film fest programmer Wesley Harris called a “comedy-horror technicolor fever dream.”

The festival will screen seven best foreign-language film entries for the 89th Academy Awards, including Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s newest film, Julieta, based on Alice Munro short stories.

And on the 25th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast, a work-in-progress version of the film will be shown that includes the drawings that became the animation.

Tickets go on sale Friday, September 30.