News Column

'SNL's Forte to appear at Virginia Film Festival

October 9, 2013


Oct. 09--Tickets go on sale Friday for this year's Virginia Film Festival, which will unveil a "Saturday Night Live" funnyman's dramatic debut, chat with an Alfred Hitchcock heroine, hear what a local author has to say about a new thriller based on his book and wrestle a few stereotypes to the ground along the way.

A busy schedule of screenings, workshops, panel discussions, family activities and other events can be found at Jody Kielbasa, the festival's director, announced festival details Tuesday at Glass Haus Kitchen.

This year's opening-night screening of Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" will give film fans a chance to see the dramatic debut of "SNL" comic Will Forte, who stars with Bruce Dern. Forte will attend with producer Ron Yerxa.

Payne's "The Descendants" was a hit at the festival several years ago. "Nebraska" shares the story of a road trip and its impact on a father's complex relationships with his sons.

Forte "is absolutely brilliant in the film, and carries the film," Kielbasa said. But festival programmers haven't forgotten that drama isn't the star's only, well, forte.

"Later in the week, we'll see 'MacGruber' just for fun," he said of the 2010 action-comedy based on one of Forte's recurring "SNL" sketch characters. Forte and director Jorma Taccone will be on hand for the screening and discussion.

Tippi Hedren will be on hand for a screening and discussion of Hitchcock's "The Birds," an American horror classic.

This year's centerpiece film will be the documentary "CLAW" by Brian Wimer and Billy Hunt, which explores the Charlottesville-launched Collective of Ladies Arm Wrestling. The phenomenon of costumed women arm wrestling for charity has spread across the country and as far afield as Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Kielbasa said the audience can expect to see a fully realized version of the short film screened a few years ago -- as well as some of the colorful lady wrestlers themselves.

The closing-night offering is "Blue Ruin," a psychological thriller written and directed by Virginia native Jeremy Saulnier. It tells the story of a beach bum who, after receiving bad news from home, sets off to fight for his estranged family.

Other planned screenings include "The Armstrong Lie," documentarian Alex Gibney's assignment to follow Lance Armstrong during his 2009 Tour de France comeback quest that changed dramatically in the wake of a doping scandal; "August: Osage County," starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts; "Charlie Countryman," starring Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachael Wood, which will bring director Fredrik Bond to Charlottesville; and "Blue is the Warmest Color," a Palme d'Or-winning tale of women in a tumultuous love affair. In addition to "August: Osage County," keep an eye out during awards season for some other Virginia Film Festival titles, including "Philomena" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

In addition, "we've got a lot of strong Virginia and Charlottesville connections with our films this year," Kielbasa said.

Scott Haze, a graduate of the Miller School, will be back in town for a post-screening discussion of "Child of God." Haze, named one of Variety's "10 Actors to Watch for 2013," stars in James Franco's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel.

Matthew F. Jones, a Charlottesville-based screenwriter, will join director David Rosenthal for a discussion of "A Single Shot," a new thriller adapted from his novel. It dives into a hunting accident's intense repercussions for a man played by Sam Rockwell.

Charlottesville musician Ned Oldham makes his dramatic debut in "I Used to Be Darker," and he will be on hand to discuss the film.

Family Day events, which are moving to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds at the University of Virginia this year, will follow a short program of movie music by the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra with a 60th-anniversary screening of the Disney hit "Peter Pan."

Documentaries and works by Virginia filmmakers also will be in the spotlight. And with more than 100 films on the schedule, "we're able to program films that we believe are going to resonate with the community," Kielbasa said. "There are just great outreach opportunities."

"William and the Windmill," a documentary about a boy in Malawi who built his own windmill from found parts in hopes of generating energy to help save his family from a famine, will be shown to more than 1,000 local middle and high school students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center. Kielbasa said that the screening will include a discussion with experts who will explain some of the science and engineering principles involved in the ambitious windmill project.

The screening for the 10th-anniversary edition of the Adrenaline Film Festival will begin at 9 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Culbreth Theatre. The popular event will give a dozen teams 72 hours to plan, write, shoot, edit and submit short films.

The Opening Night Gala, set for 9:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Jefferson Theater, has an Old Hollywood theme, big-band music and a light buffet. Tickets are $75.

The Late-Night Wrap Party, starting at 10 p.m. Nov. 9, will be at the Main Street Arena. Tickets are $35. Both parties are for ages 21 and older.

For a full schedule of events, and to get tickets, go to Tickets also will be available from the UVa Arts Box Office and by phone at 924-3376.


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