Virginia Film Festival
Coordinates: The Virginia Film Festival is hosted by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, held usually in late October or early November.
Founded in 1988, the Virginia Film Festival is a four-day celebration of the magic of the movies featuring first-run features and timeless classics, high-profile industry insiders and up-and-coming stars, and filmmakers from throughout Virginia and beyond. Taking place every autumn at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the Virginia Film Festival has brought the best in contemporary and classic cinema to its audiences for nearly twenty-five years. An array of leading cultural experts lead lectures and discussions, providing unique insight into not only the world of film, but the world in which we live. A collection of special events throughout the weekend invites the entire community to dive into the art of film in exciting new ways.
Created in the late 1988, the Virginia Festival of American Film (renamed The Virginia Film Festival) was endorsed by the state’s Department of Economic Development and adopted by the University of Virginia. The intent was twofold: to stimulate economic development by encouraging film production in Virginia and increasing tourism, and to meld the creative interests and crafts of the American film industry with the intellectual resources of a nationally ranked university. In 1996, the University decided to make the Virginia Film Festival a more integral part of its academic program under the umbrella of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The focus was expanded to encompass a broader range of international films. The Festival also expanded its year-round programs, including a very active Film Society that presents films and guest speakers at the downtown Vinegar Hill Theatre.
In 2009, Jody Kielbasa was brought on as the new director of the Virginia Film Festival. His tenure has ushered in a new era of the Virginia Film Festival, with an increased focus on best serving the people of Charlottesville and the greater Central Virginia region. Today’s Virginia Film Festival aims to bring the best in national and international cinema to its audiences, and provide enriching and entertaining activities for children, families, college students, and every other segment of the community.
From 1990 through 2009, Virginia Film Festival chose a different theme each year, on which to base its film program. Past themes are listed below. Starting in 2010, the Festival announced its intention to leave the themed approach in favor of more flexible programming. The VFF celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2012.
- 1990 - "Music & The Movies"
- 1991 - "Movie Made In America"
- 1992 - "The Reel South & Other Worlds"
- 1993 - "Film Noir"
- 1994 - "Love & Other Obsessions"
- 1995 - "U.S. & Them"
- 1996 - "Wild Spaces, Endangered Places"
- 1997 - "Caged!"
- 1998 - "Cool"
- 1999 - "Techno Visions"
- 2000 - "Animal Attractions"
- 2001 - "Masquerades"
- 2002 - "Wet"
- 2003 - "$$$"
- 2004 - "Speed"
- 2005 - "In/Justice"
- 2006 - "Revelations"
- 2007 - "Kin Flicks"
- 2008 - "Aliens!"
- 2009 - "Funny Business"
Films & Guests
Festival selections range from Hollywood premiers to classic, documentary, and experimental video. Panels and discussions illuminating a variety of facets of the films, from behind-the-scenes secrets of production to explorations of cultural relevance, complement the screenings. The festival taps into the local intellectual resources of professors, experts, and creative types, as well as bringing in actors, directors, and producers from Hollywood and New York, to create these memorable events.
Previous landmark screenings have included a 25th Anniversary tribute to In the Heat of the Night and Sidney Poitier; Distinguished Filmmaker presentations to Robert Altman, John Sayles, Emile de Antonio, and Arthur Penn; and Roger Ebert’s “shot by shot” workshops on classics such as Vertigo, Sunset Boulevard, and The Third Man. Memorable premiere events have included an advance screening of Mother & Child with actress Cherry Jones and director Rodrigo Garcia; and a live producer’s commentary of the show True Blood featuring its creator Alan Ball. Other guests have included Jimmy Stewart, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins, Sandra Bullock, Nicolas Cage, Gena Rowlands, Sigourney Weaver, William Styron, Ross McElwee, Matthew Broderick, and Cherry Jones.
Community Outreach & Education
Through programs ranging from Family Day to High School Film Screenings to partnerships with local schools and nonprofits, the Virginia Film Festival aims to reach every segment of the community in a positive way. The festival offers many longer-term outreach programs such as the Young Filmmakers Academy, and centers the children- and teen-centric activities to Friday and Saturday of each festival weekend to make them more accessible. Affordable and free screenings of family-friendly films makes the Virginia Film Festival a must for any parent planning family events. Educational and enriching activities such as a green-screen booth teach children to love learning and value the arts. The Virginia Film Festival aims create lifelong film lovers while simultaneously fulfilling the needs of area families.