29th Annual Virginia Film Festival Makes History

VFF Sees All-Time Box Office Highs in Sales and Attendance for Remarkable Program Highlighted by Special Guests Shirley MacLaine, Werner Herzog, Liv Ullmann, Danny McBride, and More

Lion Earns Audience Award for Top Narrative Feature while Landfill Harmonic Takes Best Documentary Feature Honors

Charlottesville, VA – November 10, 2016 – The 29th Annual Virginia Film Festival was a historic success that brought together a collection of some of the most celebrated figures in the world of film and entertainment with a deep and vast program of films and discussions that drew a larger audience than ever before.

The Virginia Film Festival is presented by the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.

The 2016 Virginia Film Festival welcomed an international array of legends from the film and entertainment worlds, including Shirley MacLaine, Werner Herzog, and Liv Ullmann along with comic actor, writer, and producer Danny McBride and his producing partner Jody Hill as well as award-winning documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, renowned Disney producer Don Hahn and Disney Legend Paige O’Hara. The Festival brought in more than 150 filmmakers in all, providing a dynamic platform for both new and established voices from every corner of the industry.

Festival officials report that an all-time record of 32,443 tickets were issued, topping the mark set in 2015. The 2016 Virginia Film Festival included 43 sold-out screenings and set a new ticket sales revenue record of $207,076. This marks the seventh consecutive record-setting year for the Festival.

Virginia Film Festival Director and UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa, who founded and spent a decade leading the Sarasota Film Festival before arriving in Charlottesville in 2009, called this year’s VFF the best in his 18 years as a film festival director.

“This year’s festival surpassed all of our expectations,” Kielbasa said. “This year’s program was among our most dynamic and diverse to date. That program, plus a slate of guest artists that included Liv Ullmann, Werner Herzog, Shirley MacLaine, Colin Firth, Jeff Nichols, Danny McBride, Paul Begala, Chris Hegedus, and D.A. Pennebaker, helped to create an extraordinary weekend celebrating the art of film and the power of ideas, and further enhanced the VFF’s reputation as one of the nation’s premier regional film festivals. I was particularly pleased that so many of our UVA faculty members were involved across the Grounds including collaborations with the Miller Center of Public Affairs, Center For Politics, The Fralin Museum of Art, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, UVA Drama and Studio Art, and the Office of Diversity and Equity just to name a few. Master classes for UVA graduate and undergraduate students were also offered by Liv Ullmann, Werner Herzog, Paige O’Hara and Michael Piontek.”

The numbers, Kielbasa said, hardly tell the whole story.

“We are pleased to see that this year’s VFF broke box office records for the seventh consecutive year,” he said. “But I can honestly say that this year, and moving forward, the Festival’s success should be measured in far more important ways. Over the past several years we have been proud of our consistent growth but what is happening now is more important than that. It represents an emergence of the Festival as a cultural force that reaches beyond our community and our region and that continues to grow its reputation throughout the industry as a unique and dynamic cultural institution. We look forward to furthering that reputation when we celebrate our 30th Anniversary next fall in Charlottesville.”

Those audiences also played a key role in the Festival this year by casting ballots for their favorite films. Officials announced today that the winners of this year’s VFF Audience Awards are:

Narrative Feature: Lion
Narrative Short : The Projectionist             
Documentary Feature: Landfill Harmonic
Documentary Short: Holistic Life Foundation: breathing love into a community 

Also announced were the winners of the 2016 Programmer’s Awards:

Narrative Feature: Driftwood          
Narrative Short: Femme Enfant 
Documentary Feature: Farewell Ferris Wheel    
Documentary Short: Titanic Boy

Once again this year, the VFF reached beyond its theatres and screens to impact the community in a variety of ways. The annual Family Day event welcomed more than 2,000 kids and families to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds for free film screenings, arts workshops, an interactive arts fair, and screenings of films by more than 450 local students participating in the VFF’s Young Filmmakers Academy. The Digital Media Gallery in Second Street Gallery also shared experimental video installations by UVA cinematography students and students from the acclaimed Light House Studio.

The 2016 Virginia Film Festival is generously supported by the following Premiere Sponsors: The AV Company, Bank of America, Bold Rock Hard Cider, The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, Harvest Moon Catering, James Madison’s Montpelier, Virginia Film Office, and Violet Crown Charlottesville.

Photos from the 2016 Virginia Film Festival are available at http://virginiafilmfestival.org/presskit/
For more information on the Virginia Film Festival, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org.