Oscar buzz abounds among the spotlight films screening at the 32nd Annual Virginia Film Festival, from the opening night feature, Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan, to writer-director Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta. VAFF Director and UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa also announced appearances from guest programmers: artist Federico Cuatlacuatl, filmmaker Michelle Jackson, filmmaker and programmer Joe Fab, film scholar Samhita Sunya, artist and scholar Mona Kasra, and Washington Jewish Film Festival director Ilya Tovbis.
Music fans will get an exclusive look at the Bruce Springsteen concert film Western Stars, and actor, writer, and director Ethan Hawke is coming to town to reflect on his career and screen the 2007 film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, in which he stars alongside the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Ann Dowd known for her role as Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” will participate in a discussion following Dismantling Democracy, a political documentary she narrates.
Senior guest programmer Ilana Dontcheva says a synergy emerged among the submitted films, resulting in a new sidebar featuring women writers and directors, and director Wanuri Kahiu will be at the screening of her film, Rafiki (a love story between two women that was banned in 2018 in Kenya), for a conversation about her career and the creation of the Afrobubblegum Movement.
The Virginia Film Festival takes place October 23-27; tickets will go on sale to the public at noon on Monday, September 30. More information can be found at virginiafilmfestival.org.