Monday, November 09, 2009

Photos from the 2009 Virginia Film Festival

I will be posting video a bit later. To whet your appetites, here are some photos that I shot during the 2009 Virginia Film Festival at various locations around Charlottesville.

To my disappointment, I failed to encounter cult moviemaker John Waters, who was scheduled to make three public appearances: a lecture at the UVA Arts Assembly and comments at screenings of his films Hairspray and Pink Flamingos. He didn't show up for Hairspray (which is the screening I chose to attend), causing grumbling among those who paid $15 per ticket when they could have rented the DVD for $3, but did appear at Pink Flamingos later Friday night.

Celebrities I did catch up with included Matthew Broderick, who discussed two of his films at the Culbreth and surprised fans at the UVA Amphitheatre after a screening for students of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, directors Norman Jewison and Hugh Wilson, and former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder.

Sparsely attended was a rare gem of a film, Gabriel Over the White House, which is said to have been a favorite of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I would call it "FDR's fascist fantasy film," because it is about a U.S. President (played by Walter Huston) who assumes dictatorial powers in order to end the Great Depression and ends up bullying Congress and threatening foreign nations in order to get them to sign a treaty he favors. Huston's Jud Hammond resembles Hitler more than Roosevelt, and the film's release date (1933) is a sad reminder that what happened that decade in Germany could also have happened here.

After being out of circulation for several decades, Gabriel Over the White House is now available on DVD. No matter what, we must make sure that this movie does not get shown to the current occupants of the White House. (Oddly, one of the presidential aides in the film bears an eerie resemblance to Rahm Emanuel.) We don't want to give them any more sinister ideas than they already have.

The Regal Cinemas in downtown Charlottesville hosted the "fesital" along with other venues

This year's festival had an expanded "family day" schedule at the Paramount downtown

Director Norman Jewison spoke at two film festival events; here he is discussing The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming

TV and Internet horror-show host Count Gore De Vol attended a screening of the new documentary, Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition of the Old Dominion, at Vinegar Hill

On the 20th anniversary of his election as Governor of Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder met Virginia Film Festival director Jody Kielbasa, prior to speaking on a panel about the new public television documentary, Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance

Some artifacts of Massive Resistance

Screenwriter Hugh Wilson, creator of WKRP in Cincinnati, introduced his 1984 film, Police Academy, in Newcomb Hall

Matthew Broderick, in the lobby of the Culbreth Theatre, after a screening of Election

Matthew Broderick with Josh Goldin, director of the new film, Wonderful World, and producer Glenn Williamson

For a good summary of the festival's four days, see Lisa Provence's report in The Hook.

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