Film fest features racial theme, brings William Macy

Director Jody Kielbasa introduces his ninth film festival.
Staff photo Director Jody Kielbasa introduces his ninth film festival. Staff photo

In the wake of the August 11-12 events, the 30th Virginia Film Festival harkens back to its earlier days when it had a theme every year. This year, it’s morphed into a sub-theme of “race in America” in partnership with Montpelier, according to festival director Jody Kielbasa.

Previously announced director Spike Lee had been asked to attend back in the spring. A few days after a white supremacist invasion put Charlottesville on the hate map, Lee called and said he’d be here, says Kielbasa, and he’ll be screening his documentary, 4 Little Girls, about the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham.

“That was domestic terrorism,” says Kielbasa. “They didn’t label it then.”

Kielbasa’s old friend William Macy, star of Showtime’s “Shameless,” will be on hand to screen his new film, Krystal.

Festival stalwart/producer Mark Johnson will bring his latest offering, the new Alexander Payne film Downsizing, the third time a Payne movie will open the festival, following The Descendants in 2011 and Nebraska in 2013. It stars Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig.

“OJ: Made in America” filmmaker Ezra Edelman will be on hand, as will UVA alum Margot Lee Shetterly, who wrote the book that was made into the film Hidden Figures.

Christian Bale’s new movie, Hostiles, is the centerpiece film, and it stars Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi. Director Scott Cooper is a Virginia native and he’ll be here for a discussion at the Paramount.

The current era of “fake news” coincides with the 30th anniversary of Broadcast News, which will be followed with a discussion by legendary newsman Jim Lehrer and the Miller Center’s Wyatt Andrews.

Cult classic Harold and Maude will get the shot-by-shot treatment. And silent films by Alfred Hitchcock—The Lodger (1927)—and Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant on its 100th anniversary will be accompanied with live music by Matthew Marshall and the Reel Music Trio.

The festival features foreign films that it’s virtually impossible to catch around here, and fans of Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke will get to see his latest, Happy End, among the 10 or so currently confirmed.

The festival runs November 9 to 12, and tickets go on sale Friday, September 29.