By Adriana Wells
The Virginia Film Festival (VAFF) returns to Charlottesville this fall with a lengthy list of standout films and special guests for its 31st annual festival, to take place November 1 through 4.
Highlights of the event will include a tribute to the late actor Orson Welles, led by Welles’ friend Peter Bogdanovich. Other guest speakers include Menace II Society co-director Allen Hughes, Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, and Martin Luther King III.
This year’s festival opens November 1 with Green Book, the story of a 1960s friendship without barriers. The film is inspired by the true story of gifted pianist Don Shirley and his hired bouncer Tony Lip; Lip, who is white, must guide Shirley, who is black, through the segregated Deep South via safe houses mentioned in a guidebook.
Green Book isn’t the only film on the list to embrace difference and diversity. James Madison’s Montpelier and the University of Virginia to present, once again, a “Race in America” series, which aims to explore issues and perspectives relevant to the history of the area. The series includes a screening of the documentary Charlottesville, which looks at what the events of August 11 and 12, 2017 imply about modern America.
After the screening, Martin Luther King III will deliver a community address.
Other films embrace the LGBTQ+ community, such as Good Manners, a fairytale that festival programmer Wesley Harris describes as a “Brazilian lesbian werewolf horror movie. You’re welcome.”
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma—a look inside the life of domestic worker Cleo and the family she cares for in the midst of Mexico’s intense political climate—is the centerpiece of this year’s festival.
The lineup also includes 15 films from all over the world; each has been submitted for consideration in the 2019 Academy Awards’ “Best Foreign Language Film” category. One of these, also a VAFF spotlight film, is Colombia’s Birds of Passage, in which members of the Wayuu tribe, the ethnic group indigenous to Colombia’s Guajira Peninsula, gets into the drug trade.
Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner closes the festival on November 4. It’s a timely political piece that centers on Gary Hart’s brief political career of the late 1980s, blurring the lines of what remains personal as accusations fly.
The full schedule of events will be released to the public on Thursday, October 4, at 9am.
Tickets are on sale at noon on Monday, October 8, both online and in-person at the UVA Arts Box Office at 109 Culbreth Rd. Monday through Friday, noon to 5pm.