Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Video from the 2008 Virginia Film Festival

The past couple of weeks have been unusually busy for me, so it has taken some time to edit the video recordings I made of several of the introductions and post-screening discussions that took place at the Virginia Film Festival during the last two days of October and the first two days of November.

I previously posted video clips of the arrival of celebrities at the opening of the festival (and thanks to the Movie Monday Blog Carnival for linking to that post at Observations from Missy's Window) and the panel discussion on Lake City (which opens this weekend) with co-stars Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity and co-directors Perry Moore and Hunter Hill.

After the big opening of Lake City on Thursday evening, filmgoers dispersed -- some to the gala party, some to additional screenings.

My choice was to attend a screening of George Pal's 1952 film version of The War of the Worlds. (Earlier in the evening, a small audience at the University of Virginia Observatory were able to listen to the radio play of the same name, the one directed by Orson Welles that terrorized the nation precisely on October 30, 1938.)

The film was introduced by Justin Humphreys, who is writing a biography of producer George Pal.

On Friday morning, I saw John Sturges' 1955 film, Bad Day at Black Rock, starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, and a cast of some of Hollywood's best character actors (Oscar-winners Ernest Borgnine and Walter Brennan, to name two). The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring the director's son, Michael Sturges, and led by Sean McCord. There were about 200 high school students in the audience, who were seeing the film as part of their studies. (My video from that event is still being processed, and I will add it here later.) Following Bad Day at Black Rock, I was able to see -- for the first time on a big screen -- the Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins 1961 film version of Leonard Bernstein and Steven Sondheim's West Side Story. In the discussion that followed, it was noted that librettist Arthur Laurents is directing a new stage production of West Side Story, which will, in fact, have a pre-Broadway tryout at Washington's National Theatre in December, just as the original production did back in 1957. (Not a bad project for a nonagenarian.) Having seen West Side Story on stage many times, including one particularly memorable West End revival, and on television once or twice, the wide-screen (Super Panavision 70), full Technicolor version was quite an experience. Some things don't hold up well -- the fake slang terms, for instance, are even less believable on screen than they are on stage -- but the overall production still looks like something that deserved the many awards it received. The discussion was led by Rich Collins of the University of Virginia and Ted McKosky of Radford University.
Part I: Part II:
That night there was an unusual panel discussion featuring director Rodrigo Garcia via Skype (he was in Los Angeles) and producer Julie Lynn, with co-star David Morse, discussing the new film, Passengers. (I am still processing this video, as well. Look for it later.) The last screening I attended on October 31 was Galaxy Quest, the 1999 parody of sci-fi television starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Justin Long (among others: look for a pre-Office Rainn Wilson in a small supporting role as a space alien). Galaxy Quest was introduced by producer Mark Johnson, who went on to produce The Chronicles of Narnia series and who is a member of the Virginia Film Festival's board of advisors.
I will be adding more videos as they become available. For those particularly interested in the whole list, check out my YouTube channel, where my videos appear before they are posted here. (Film images courtesy of the Virginia Film Institute.)

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