Virginia Film Festival Returns With In-Person Events

Virginia Film Festival
(Photo: Sanjay Suchak / University Communications)

The 34th-annual Virginia Film Festival opens next week with five days of in-theater screenings and drive-in movie presentations at Morven Farm, along with some virtual discussion events. Presented by the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and the Vice Provost for the Arts, this year’s festival features more than 85 films, including 60 features. Special guests will include actor Martha Plimpton, who will discuss her latest film, “Mass,” as well as Tony-nominated playwright and screenwriter Jeremy O. Harris, and Danny Strong, writer and executive producer of the new Hulu limited series “Dopesick.”

A list of scheduled VFF appearances by Arts & Sciences faculty is included here. For a complete schedule of film screenings and information on remaining ticket availability, visit the festival's website.

Here is a list of scheduled VFF appearances by Arts & Sciences faculty and students:

Tekahionwake, Pauline
Noon, Thursday (Oct. 28)

This live virtual screening and discussion, co-presented by The Fralin Museum of Art and the Virginia Film Festival, is part of the VAFF’s 2021 Indigenous Americans in Film Series. 

E. Pauline Johnson was a powerful wordsmith who traveled the North American continent sometimes in vaudeville-esque stages to Britain. She confronted the King of England and used her voice and words as a weapon against the effects of colonization. Her mother was British and her father was Mohawk Chief from the Six Nations of the Grand River. Her capacity for change towards the perception of Indigenous people in North America was the beginning for a long struggle. 

Virtual discussion with filmmaker Shelley Niro, moderated by Adriana Greci Green (Curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas at The Fralin Museum of Art). Register here.

Blind Trust: Leaders & Followers in Times of Crisis
3 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 28), Violet Crown 

This 58-minute film celebrates the life and work of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Vamik Volkan, a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and emeritus professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, who has spent over four decades bringing enemy groups together in areas of conflict all over the world. This look into his pioneering fieldwork and peace-building missions in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. sheds light on how large-group identity and shared trauma can both unite us and divide us for generations. Followed by a discussion with subject Dr. Vamik Volkan, moderated by Stephen Mull (UVA Vice Provost for Global Affairs).

A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks
3:45 p.m. Oct. 28, Culbreth Theatre

The film follows the life of filmmaker and photographer Gordon Parks alongside the advancements in racial, social, and economic equality happening through history. A polymath who directed major films like “Shaft” and who was one of the pioneers of the “Blaxploitation” genre, Parks is best remembered for his portraits of Black Americans experiencing the trials of everyday life. Parks inspired a generation of photographers, filmmakers, and activists — many of whom are featuring in the film. This documentary is an inspirational story about a man who used a camera to change the world and advocate for social justice. Introduction by John Edwin Mason (History).

Sudanese Film Group Shorts
1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, Violet Crown 4

During the 1970s and 1980s, as a myriad religious and political factions waged an endless civil war in Sudan, a group of filmmakers banded together to make a series of compelling short films. This program of eight shorts shines a light on a forgotten chapter of film history. Introduction by Samhita Sunya (Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures).

A Suite of Short Films by Kevin Jerome Everson
2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, Violet Crown 5

From UVA studio art and film professor Kevin Everson long list of internationally renowned films, a selection of short films that combines historical observations with contemporary, socially-relevant narratives, including one of his collaborations with the Department of History’s Claudrena Harold. Everson’s films, richly abstracted and artfully constructed, are rare in their ability to find the extraordinary and theatrical in the ordinary and every day. Introduction by Kevin Everson (Studio Art), followed by a discussion with Everson and Claudrena Harold (History).

5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, Paramount Theater

Directed by Rebecca Hall, this feature film follows two mixed-race women who choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1920s New York. Irene (Tessa Thompson) identifies as African American and is married to a black doctor (André Holland), while Claire (Ruth Negga) “passes” as white and is married to a prejudiced white man (Alexander Skarsgård). Though they were friends in high school, their differing lives and social circles as adults reveal a jarring dissonance that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities. Based on the 1929 novel of the same name, “Passing” is a sensitive and compelling piece that navigates questions of race, identity, and freedom in the 1920s in a way that is still deeply relevant to audiences 92 years later. Introduction by Sandhya Shukla (English).

Nudo Mixteco
6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, Violet Crown

Part of the “Women in Film and Indigeneity in Mexico” series, this Spanish/Mixteco-language film intertwines three stories during a celebration in San Mateo, a village of the Mixtec Oaxaca governed by local practices and customs. The women of San Mateo deal with love, abuse, and a struggle for empowerment in a village that continues to push them down. What started as three monologues of women returning to their homes after a long time away has become a universally relatable and gut wrenching depiction of the female struggle. (This film is presented with English subtitles.) Introduction by Federico Cuatlacuatl (Art).

A Critical Eye Panel
12:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30, Violet Crown

Leading journalists and film critics to discuss the current state of the industry in this free, unticketed event. Discussion with film critics Carlos Aguilar (freelance), Robert Daniels (812filmreviews), Roxana Hadadi (freelance), and Brian Truitt (USA Today), moderated by Jack Hamilton (Media Studies/American Studies).

Love and Fury
2:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, Violet Crown

Following Native artists as they navigate their careers in the US and abroad, this documentary explores the immense complexities involved in understanding their own identity as Native artists while advancing Native art into a post-colonial world. Part of the “Indigenous Americans in Film” series, the film challenges both the art world and historical misrepresentations of Native people. Discussion with subject Yatika Fields moderated by Adriana Greci Green (curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas at The Fralin Museum of Art).

5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, Violet Crown

(A short film that screens before Fish & Men)

In her debut feature, Tracey Deer recounts the 1990 Oka Crisis, a 78-day land dispute between the Mohawk people and the Canadian government in Oka, Quebec, Canada through the eyes of a young Mohawk girl nicknamed Beans. Part of the “Indigenous Americans in Film” series, this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story gives viewers a glimpse into the struggle of finding one’s identity while enduring trauma. Introduction by Adriana Greci Green (curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas at The Fralin Museum of Art).

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock
11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, Violet Crown

Set during the Standing Rock protests of 2015, this intimate documentary follows four women: Sky Roosevelt-Morris, Wašté Win Young, Phyllis Young, and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. In the process of protesting the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline, their identities and thoughts on leadership are transformed. Featuring interviews and footage from the protests, “End of the Line” explores the rise of indigenous and feminine power during one of the great political events of the 21st century. Introduction by Adriana Greci Green (curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas at The Fralin Museum of Art).

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 31 (Violet Crown)

Shot on solar powered batteries on location at the world’s most remote school, director Pawo Choyning Dorji’s heartwarming film is proof that sometimes we find what we seek in the place we least expect it. Ugyen has one more year of service to earn his teaching degree and pursue his dreams of musical stardom in Australia. When he is sent to this Himalayan outpost, the students (played by the school’s real students) teach him that finding true fulfillment can be a two-way street. Introduction by Samhita Sunya (Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures).

9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31 (Culbreth Theatre)

Tunisia’s first horror movie follows three young journalism students who venture to an isolated village to solve a gruesome criminal case that has gone cold. Over the course of their stay, they become trapped in the village and discover something far more sinister than they could have ever imagined. (Presented with English subtitles.) Introduction by Samhita Sunya (Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures).

Monkey Beach
9:15 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31 (Violet Crown)

This film is the story of Lisa (Grave Dove), a rebellious young woman who must accept her heroic nature to save her brother Jimmy, who is lost at sea. Over the course of the journey, she encounters ghosts, Sasquatches, and Haisla cultural stories, and comes to a better understanding of her dysfunctional family. Featuring supernatural imagery and set in an Indigenous perspective rarely seen, Monkey Beach is an exploration of identity and family set in the Pacific Northwest. Introduction by Adriana Greci Green (curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas at The Fralin Museum of Art).