Virginia Film Festival organizers have issued an alert to all citizens: prepare for an alien invasion. Scheduled from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2, the 21st annual Virginia Film Festival will explore the theme of “Aliens!” as more than 150 films and speakers address cinema’s fearful and alluring images of immigrants, outsiders and extraterrestrials.I wonder if there will be any special events for Halloween, considering it falls in the middle of this "Aliens!" film festival.
Hosted by the University of Virginia, the Virginia Film Festival takes place at venues throughout Charlottesville. Designed as a four-day course on a cultural theme in which the public is invited to enroll, the festival brings major talents to Charlottesville each year. Recent guests have included Morgan Freeman, Vanessa Redgrave, John Sayles and Robert Duvall.
"The prominence of the immigration issue in this year’s election inspired us to tackle this theme," said Richard Herskowitz, the festival's artistic director. "There is a rich history of films about the alien-ness of immigrants and outsiders, including science-fiction films like 'The Brother from Another Planet' and dramas like 'El Norte.' And there are many great filmmakers, from Luis Bunuel to Ang Lee and Mira Nair, whose frequent border crossings and perpetual alien-ness, it can be argued, have sustained the vitality of their work."
Advising Herskowitz on the programming of this year's event will be the first Virginia Film Festival Fellow, Hamid Naficy, the John Evans Professor of Communication at Northwestern University. Naficy’s book, "An Accented Cinema," explores the different types of cinema made by exilic, diasporic and ethnic filmmakers who live and work away from their country of origin. Naficy will participate in several screening discussions and panels, and will conduct a short course on the festival theme for U.Va. students in October. Naficy has written extensively about theories of exile and displacement, exilic and diasporic media, and Iranian and Third World cinemas.
The festival will bring back, for the fifth year, the highly successful Adrenaline Film Project. Thirty student and community filmmakers will be launched on a three-day filmmaking blitz, culminating in a lively public screening. Harry Chotiner will return to conduct "Behind The Scenes: A Festival Symposium," where 20 student and adult learners meet festival guests for in-depth discussions. For the second year, Paul Reisler’s Kid Pan Alley will lead Charlottesville kids in musical accompaniment to a classic silent film on Family Day, scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Paramount Theater.
The festival will also feature more than a dozen new feature film premiere selections screening in advance of their national release. And, as always, filmgoers can expect an extensive catalog of art exhibits, musical performances and gala parties related to the festival theme.
Cinema buffs are invited to submit their suggestions of alien films and filmmakers through the Director’s Blog on the festival's Web site, www.vafilm.com, where Herskowitz will review recommendations and share behind-the-scenes stories as the program comes together. The site also includes year-round announcements about the Virginia Film Society.