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Virginia Film Festival blends virtual screenings and talks with drive-in movies

Virginia Film Festival blends virtual screenings and talks with drive-in movies


The 33rd annual Virginia Film Festival will offer a virtual lineup of more than 50 feature films, documentaries, shorts and discussions, as well as an in-person schedule of socially distanced drive-in movies at Dairy Market and Morven Farm.

Industry guests lined up for the festival program, unveiled Tuesday, include actor Annette Bening; actor and singer Leslie Odom Jr.; former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Diane Rehm, National Public Radio host and author; Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”; and Pete Souza, photographer for the Obama White House, author and social media star. This year’s guest programmers are Federico Cuatlacuatl, Joe Fab, Samhita Sunya and Ilya Tobvis.

The complete festival program will be available online at starting at 10 a.m. Thursday. In the meantime, here’s an overview of what’s in store for film fans.

The Drive-In Movies series will present one screening at each venue on each night of the festival; films shown at Morven Farm will start at 7:30 p.m., and screenings at Dairy Market will begin at 8 p.m. Look for “One Night in Miami ...,” Academy Award-winning actress Regina King’s directorial debut, as the Opening Night Film; “Ammonite,” starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, as the Centerpiece Film; “Nomadland” by Chloe Zhao as the Closing Night Film; and “Gunda,” “MLK/FBI,” S#!%house” and “Shiva Baby.”

The Special Presentation events will include “Light House Studio Shorts,” which is filled with short films created by local Light House Studio students. “A Tribute to Leslie Odom Jr.” will feature the Tony Award-winning “Hamilton” star speaking about his role as Sam Cooke in “One Night in Miami ...” In “A Tribute to Thomas Newman,” the composer and 15-time Academy Award nominee will speak with Benjamin Rous, music director of the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia.

The American Perspectives Series will focus on “The Evening Hour,” “Gather,” “The Giverny Document (Single Channe),” “Good Ol’ Girl,” “Hamtramck, USA” and “Heard.” The Women in Film series presents “Aggie,” “Coded Bias,” “Freeland” and “Women in Blue.”

Virginia films also will be in the spotlight. Look for “Alice,” “The Reunited States” and “The Judge — Character, Cases, Courage.”

On the documentaries schedule are “”Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team,” “Fish & Men,” “The Last Out” and “Feels Good Man.”

Other films in the festival lineup include “Test Pattern,” “Jumbo,” “Monsoon,” “Twilight’s Kiss,” “Electric Jesus” and “Dinner in America.”

More than half of the filmmakers, experts and guests in this year’s festival are women or represent Black, Indigenous or people of color communities.

The Special Guest Conversations series will feature Annette Bening speaking with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz; a conversation on “The Good Lord Bird” with Ethan Hawke, James McBride, Joshua Caleb Johnson, Mark Richard and Amy Andrews Harrell; Pete Souza and former Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu; Linda Hamilton and University of Virginia President Jim Ryan; Vince Gilligan and Mark Johnson with UVa English professor William Little; and Nicole Kassell, a Charlottesville native who recently won an Emmy Award for Best Limited Series for “Watchmen” on HBO.

This year’s Spotlight Films include “Boys State,” with an introduction by Sen. Tim Scott and a conversation with Larry Sabato and Terry McAuliffe; “When My Time Comes,” with a conversation featuring author Diane Rehm, Joe Fab and Diane Naughton; “Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story”; and “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” with an introduction by Stacey Abrams.

Virtual All-Access Passes are $65 for the general public, $45 for students and free for University of Virginia students through the Arts$ program; they’re on sale now at The passes do not include the Drive-in Movies or Special Presentations. Single tickets are $8; they’ll go on sale at 10 a.m. Oct. 21. Details are available at, and technical support for resolving any glitches with virtual events is available through

Tickets for the Virtual Special Presentation events are free. Registration will start at noon Thursday online at

Admission to the Drive-In Movies is $25 per vehicle, with a limit of five people per vehicle, and tickets go on sale at noon Thursday at Keep in mind that tickets will not be sold at the drive-in venues; be sure to get your tickets ahead of time. To learn more about the Drive-In Movies series and the pandemic safety precautions that will be observed, go to

The Virginia Film Festival is a program of UVa and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts. For information, go to

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