Friday, August 05, 2016

From the Archives: Va. Film Festival to feature politicians from Goldwater & LBJ to Nixon & Bush

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on October 7, 2014. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Va. Film Festival to feature politicians from Goldwater & LBJ to Nixon & Bush

Actors Jenna Elfman, Jasmine Guy, Hal Holbrook, Frank Langella, Richard Roundtree, and Patrick Wilson; novelists David Baldacci and Adriana Trigiani; directors Victor Levin, Barry Levinson, and Scott Teems; producers Katie Couric, Julie Lynn, and Paul Junger Witt; and political figures Andrew Card, Marlin Fitzwater, Barry Goldwater, Jr., and Skip Humphrey – these are among the filmmakers and celebrities who will appear at the 2014 Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville to discuss their works and careers.

Festival director Jody Kielbasa announced this year's program at an October 7 press conference held at the historic Jefferson Theater. After the formal announcement, he spoke with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about documentaries and other films that will be screened during the weekend of November 6-9 at a variety of venues in downtown Charlottesville and on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

Among the documentaries, Kielbasa singled out “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey, which I think is an incredible documentary.” Hal Holbrook, who has been performing as Mark Twain for 60 years, will offer a special performance of his award-winning one-man show, Mark Twain Tonight, and also offer comments about the documentary film.

Kielbasa also mentioned that “41 on 41 is coming in as part of the Berlin Wall series in association with the Miller Center.” That film, he said, looks at “41 different people who comment on our 41st president, George H.W. Bush. Obviously,” he added, “some of that discussion will wrap around the Berlin Wall, as well.”

The Berlin Wall series – marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Empire – includes five films, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. The five are Dr. Strangelove, a 1964 Academy Award nominee directed by Stanley Kubrick; Red Army, a documentary about Soviet ice hockey players; Walesa: Man of Hope, Polish director Andrzej Wajda’s biopic about Nobel laureate Lech Wałęsa; German director Wim Wenders' fanciful Wings of Desire; as well as 41 on 41.

“For people out there who are not aware,” Kielbasa explained, “this year the University of Virginia was loaned four original panels of the Berlin Wall. They're encased in glass in front of the Alderman Library. I'm also responsible for a series of programs over an eight-day period leading up to the 25th anniversary” of the wall's destruction, “which actually happens on November 9, the last day of the Virginia Film Festival.”

Presidents and Elections
In conjunction with the UVA Center for Politics, the festival will present the premiere of Bombs Away: LBJ, Goldwater and the 1964 Campaign That Changed It All, followed by a panel discussion featuring former California Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., and former Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey. The film, Kielbasa said, takes “a fascinating look at Goldwater and LBJ and that incredible election and everything that was going on leading up to 1964.”

The Miller Center for Public Affairs is sponsoring a screening of Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard's film of the award-winning play about the interviews of Richard Nixon conducted by British TV host David Frost. Afterward, Frank Langella, who played Nixon in the film, will talk about his experience with historian Ken Hughes.

Kielbasa, now in his sixth year as festival director, also pointed to two major films made in Virginia that will be shown at the festival.

Big Stone Gap
“Our world premiere, the opening night film,” he said, is “Big Stone Gap, which was filmed entirely on location in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and is about that community.” That screening will include a panel discussion with writer/director Adriana Trigiani as well as several of the stars of the film.

The other high-profile made-in-Virginia film, he added, “is Wish You Well, based on the novel by David Baldacci.” Baldacci will be on hand to discuss the film, which is a coming-of-age story set in 1940s Virginia.

Kielbasa is also excited that director Barry Levinson will be at the Festival to discuss his latest film, The Humbling (starring Al Pacino) as well as his 1989 film, The Natural (starring Robert Redford).

“I know that film gets played a lot,” he explained, “but to able to listen to Barry Levinson talk about the making of that film should be extraordinary and, quite frankly, people consider it one of the best sports movies ever made.”

The 27th annual Virginia Film Festival will also screen a number of likely Oscar contenders, including The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, Wild, and Mr. Turner.

“These are incredibly high-profile films,” Kielbasa said, “and in most cases we'll be screening them anywhere from two weeks to two months in advance of their general release.”


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