Thursday, October 30, 2008

Virginia Film Festival Opens Tonight

Oscar-winning actresses Sissy Spacek and Jane Fonda will be among the guests tonight as the 21st annual Virginia Film Festival opens in Charlottesville. The festival continues through Sunday evening.

Special events include a rebroadcast of the Orson Welles radio production of The War of the Worlds, based on the novel by H.G. Wells. It was 70 years ago tonight that Welles' Mercury Theatre of the Air scared the wits out of America by presenting the story of a Martian invasion as a series of (what sounded like) on-the-spot radio news reports.

The Adrenaline Film Project returns this year, with several teams of filmmakers charged with writing, filming, and editing a short subject within 72 hours. There will also be panel discussions about making movies in Virginia and in Charlottesville, a "family film day" on Saturday, and a screening of a new short film about interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, The Response, with Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, actor Peter Riegert, and two of the attorneys who have represented prisoners held at Gitmo.

WINA-AM radio will be broadcasting The War of the Worlds, in its entirety, at 4:00 p.m., during Coy Barefoot's "Charlottesville--Right Now" program and again at 7:00 p.m., the same time that the film festival's re-creation will take place in the University of Virginia observatory. George Pal's 1953 film version of the H.G. Wells story will be screened in Culbreth Hall on the UVA grounds at 10:00 p.m.

Spacek and Fonda will attend a screening of a new movie, Lake City, which was filmed in Virginia. In addition to Spacek, Lake City features actors Dave Matthews (a former bartender at Miller's on Charlottesville's downtown mall) and Troy Garity (son of Jane, and grandson of Henry, Fonda), who will be escorting his mother. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring directors Perry Moore and Hunter Hill and producer Mark Johnson, a member of the Virginia Film Festival's advisory board.

The theme of this year's Virginia Film Festival is "Aliens," and the 80 films and 100 guest speakers will explore the idea of aliens as immigrants and emigrants, displaced individuals, and of aliens as visitors from (or to) outer space.

Watch this blog for day-by-day reports on the festival's activities. Part One is here.

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