A program of

Spike Lee

Oscar winner Spike Lee is a director, writer, actor, producer, author, and NYU Graduate Film Program Artistic Director whose body of work has continuously grown over the last three decades. He has directed and produced over 30 films since his first feature film—the independently produced She’s Gotta Have It—including his Academy Award-nominated 1989 film Do The Right Thing, which remains relevant today. Lee continues to produce cinematic works of art that showcase provocative socio-political critiques that challenge cultural assumptions about race, class, and gender identity. His acclaimed documentaries have included the Academy Award-nominated 4 Little Girls, his Emmy Award-winning When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and the Peabody Award-winning If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, all for HBO.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, but raised in Brooklyn, Lee returned south to attend Morehouse College before returning to New York City to get his MFA in Film Production at NYU/Tisch, and to start 40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks.

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William H. Macy

William H. Macy is an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, an Emmy and SAG Award-winning actor, and a writer in theater, film, and television. He currently stars in the Showtime series Shameless, for which he has been nominated four times for a Best Actor Emmy Award.

Macy’s film credits include Seabiscuit, The Cooler, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Jurassic Park III, Fargo, TNT’s Door to Door, Wild Hogs, and Room. William H. Macy made his feature directorial debut with Rudderless, the closing film at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The Layover, his second film, was just released in August 2017, followed by his third film, Krystal, which will play at this year’s Virginia Film Festival. In addition, Macy is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company.

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Trudie Styler

Trudie Styler is an actress, film producer, and director. After studying Drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Styler was a leading player with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has appeared both in television series and on the big screen. Her most recent US television work includes The Night Of and Falling Water. From the 1990s onward Styler championed new young writing and directing talent, and her work has garnered many awards and nominations, including Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000), Dito Montiel’s A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006), and Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009).

In 2011, Styler formed development and production company Maven Pictures with Celine Rattray. Maven’s credits include the award-winning Filth (2013), starring James McAvoy; Still Alice (2014) starring Oscar-winner Julianne Moore; BIFA-winning and BAFTA-nominated American Honey (2016); and Novitiate (2017), which won the Sundance Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Director. Her most recent directorial work, Freak Show, will be featured during this year’s VAFF.

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Anthony Michael Hall

Anthony Michael Hall is an American actor, film producer, and director who starred in several iconic films of the 1980s. Hall began his career in commercials and on stage as a child, and made his screen debut in 1980. His films with director-screenwriter John Hughes, beginning with the popular 1983 comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation and the coming-of-age comedy Sixteen Candles, shaped his early career. Hall’s next movies with Hughes were the teen classics The Breakfast Club and Weird Science.

Hall joined the cast of Saturday Night Live from 1985–1986 and starred in films such as Out of Bounds (1986, Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Six Degrees of Separation (1993). After a series of minor roles in the 1990s, he starred as Bill Gates in the 1999 television film Pirates of Silicon Valley. He had the leading role in the USA Network series The Dead Zone from 2002 to 2007, and stars alongside Bruce Dern and Sean Astin in The Lears.

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Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson was most recently seen starring in the hit Warner Bros. and MGM romantic drama Everything, Everything. In addition, Robinson recently wrapped production on the independent feature Strange But True, where he leads an all-star cast opposite Amy Ryan, Brian Cox, Blythe Danner and Greg Kinnear. Next up, Nick will be seen starring in the Fox 2000 coming-of-age story Love, Simon, which is set to premiere March 16, 2018. Past credits include starring roles in Krystal, Jurassic WorldKings of Summer, and an unforgettable guest spot on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

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Margot Lee Shetterly

Writer, researcher, and entrepreneur Margot Lee Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, which is a top book of 2016 for both TIME and Publisher’s Weekly, a USA Today bestseller, and a #1 (and instant) New York Times bestseller. The film adaptation of her book—which became the number one movie in America—stars Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Shetterly is also the founder of the Human Computer Project, a digital archive of the stories of NASA’s African-American “Human Computers” whose work tipped the balance in favor of the United States in WWII, the Cold War, and the Space Race. Along with Aran Shetterly, Shetterly co-founded the magazine Inside Mexico. She graduated from The University of Virginia, and is a 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow.

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Ezra Edelman

Ezra Edelman is an award-winning filmmaker. In 2016, he directed O.J.: Made In America, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. It is the third film he has directed for ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30” documentary series. In 2013, Edelman co-produced the Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and The Boxer. He also has produced and directed three films for HBO, including the Peabody Award-winning Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals and Emmy-winning The Ghosts of Flatbush. A native of Washington, DC, Ezra graduated from Yale University and currently lives in Brooklyn.

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Lynn Novick

Lynn Novick is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. For nearly 30 years, she has been producing and directing films about American history and culture with long-time partner Ken Burns. Their films are some of the most acclaimed and top-rated documentaries to have aired on PBS, and include Prohibition, Baseball, Jazz, Frank Lloyd Wright, and The War, a seven-part, 15-hour exploration of ordinary Americans’ experiences in World War II.

Novick’s new series The Vietnam War is a groundbreaking 360-degree exploration of the war, the series features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from the winning and losing sides. Novick is currently working on a two-part biography of Ernest Hemingway, co-directed by Burns and slated for completion in 2020.

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Marco Williams

Marco Williams is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and professor of film production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Since 1979, he has been making documentary films that examine themes of injustice in America. As a storyteller, Williams explores the difficult—telling the stories we’d rather not tell in order to challenge the status quo and make a sustained impact with his films. His directing credits include: The Undocumented; Inside the New Black Panthers; Banished; Freedom Summer; I Sit Where I Want; MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream; Two Towns of Jasper; Making Peace: Rebuilding our Communities; In Search of Our Fathers; From Harlem to Harvard; and Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, for which he is the co-director/co-producer. Williams received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in Visual and Environmental Studies, a Master of Arts degree from UCLA in Afro-American Studies, and a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA in their Producer’s Program.

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Nick Dawson

Nick Dawson is the editor-in-chief at Talkhouse Film, author of the 2009 book Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel, and editor of Hal Ashby: Interviews and Dennis Hopper: Interviews for University Press of Mississippi’s “Conversations with Filmmakers” series. His audio commentary can be heard on the Criterion Collection’s Harold and Maude. Dawson was formerly the managing editor at Filmmaker magazine and associate editor at the “Focus Features” website. Born and raised in Scotland, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter, and two cats.

Dawson will be leading 2 shot-by-shot workshops on Harold and Maude. You can purchase tickets at the links below:

Harold and Maude: Shot-by-Shot Workshop Part 1
Harold and Maude: Shot-by-Shot Workshop Part 2

Noel Fisher

Noel Fisher has become one of the entertainment industry’s most sought-after and versatile performers, bringing to life memorable characters on the big and small screens over the past few years. Fisher’s film and television credits include starring as Michelangelo in Paramount Pictures’ summer hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, playing Mickey Milkovich opposite William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in the critically acclaimed Showtime series Shameless, and portraying Vladimir in the final chapter of the worldwide phenomenon The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.

Audiences may best remember Fisher from his breakout performance in the critically acclaimed FX series The Riches, portraying Cal, the conniving and clever son of Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver’s characters. Currently, he is working on The Long Road Home playing Tomas Young, a 24-year-old soldier who joined the Army just a few days after September 11, 2001.

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Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer, known to millions of Americans as cohost of the PBS NewsHour and the moderator of dozens of presidential and vice-presidential debates, began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter at the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times-Herald. Lehrer served as a Marine infantry officer in the 1950s. He is the author of 21 novels, three nonfiction books, and four plays, and has been awarded honorary degrees by more than 30 colleges and universities. Lehrer is also a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

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Colette Burson

Colette Burson is a television writer, screenwriter, producer, and director. She co-created, executive produced, and was the showrunner of Hung for HBO, as well as wrote for The Riches on FX. She has written original television pilots and episodes for Showtime, FX, NBC, and Canal+/Europa. Her work as a director prior to Permanent includes Little Black Boot, starring Jane Lynch, which premiered at Sundance and won over ten national and international awards, including the Grand Prize from Planet Out and Best Short Film Prize from Logo Television. Additional directing credits include Coming Soon starring Mia Farrow and Ryan Reynolds, as well as several episodes of Hung including the third season premiere, Don’t Give Up On Detroit.

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Thomas Ackerman ASC

Thomas Ackerman’s introduction to motion picture production came as an officer in the United States Air Force. During his assignment to the 600th Photo Squadron in the Republic of Viet Nam, Ackerman directed numerous film projects before spending three years working on documentaries and political media in Washington, DC. Ackerman is best known to audiences worldwide for his photography of feature motion pictures. His filmography lists titles such as Jumanji and Tim Burton’s classic Beetlejuice, as well Dennis the Menace, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, George of the Jungle, and Anchorman–The Legend of Ron Burgundy. A faculty member at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts since 2008, Thomas Ackerman is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, The Directors Guild of America, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Paul Begala

In the past 50 years, only four Democrats have won the White House. Paul Begala helped two of them. A commentator for CNN and professor at Georgetown University, Begala has worked in Congress and the White House, and in corporate life and academia. As a commentator for CNN, Begala appears on a variety of CNN programs, and writes opinion columns for CNN.com. Having advised campaigns around the world, including Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, he quite literally brings a world of experience to the nation’s long-term political landscape. Using historical guideposts, Begala provides audiences insights into the what, why, and how of today’s hot-button issues. Begala burst on the political scene with his partner James Carville as senior strategist for the Clinton-Gore campaign. He went on to serve President Clinton as counselor to the President, where he was one of his closest aides, helping to define and defend the Administration’s agenda. In 2012, he was a senior advisor to Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama Super PAC, which played a critical role in President Obama’s 2012 victory. Begala is the author of several New York Times best-selling books on politics, and has taught at the University of Texas and the University of Georgia, as well as his current teaching position at Georgetown University.

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Dan Mirvish

Dan Mirvish is a director, screenwriter, producer, and author. His film Between Us—an award-winning feature starring Julia Stiles and Taye Diggs—played in 23 festivals in 7 countries, and got a 50+ city theatrical release plus Showtime, Starz, Netflix and all digital outlets. Robert Altman was Dan’s mentor on his first film, Omaha (the movie), which led him to co-found the upstart Slamdance Film Festival that runs concurrently with Sundance. His film Open House led to a controversial rewrite of the Academy Awards rules in the Best Original Musical category. Mirvish wrote the critically acclaimed book The Cheerful Subversive’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking for Focal Press/Routledge, and he co-wrote the best-selling novel I Am Martin Eisenstadt (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) based on the fake McCain advisor who took credit for Sarah Palin not knowing Africa was a continent.

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John Lee Hancock

John Lee Hancock is a film writer, director, and producer based in Los Angeles. Born in Texas, John practiced law in Houston with a JD from Baylor University before moving to California to found the Legal Aliens Theatre Company. His writing credits include A Perfect World, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Alamo, Snow White and the Huntsman and The Blind Side. John has directed The Rookie, The Alamo, The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks and The Founder, and coproduced My Dog Skip as well as the television show Falcone with VAFF Advisory Board Chairman Mark Johnson. Currently, John is working on The Highwaymen—a film starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson about the Texas Rangers who came out of retirement to hunt down and kill Bonnie and Clyde.

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Mike Rich

Mike’s screenwriting breakthrough came in 1998 when his script of Finding Forrester was honored by the Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting competition. Within weeks, the screenplay was acquired by Columbia Pictures and became a 2000 holiday season release starring Sean Connery and directed by Gus Van Sant. Mike’s second screenplay, The Rookie, starred Dennis Quaid and Rachel Griffiths, and was directed by John Lee Hancock; becoming both a commercial and critical success for Disney in 2002. The following year, Mike wrote the script for Radio, which starred Ed Harris, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Debra Winger. His works also include The Nativity Story and Secretariat, and his most recent project placed him, for the first time ever, into the world of Pixar animation, where he wrote the screenplay for this summer’s release of Cars 3. Mike is also the author of the upcoming young adult novel, Skavenger’s Hunt, which is set for publication this month.

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And a Spotlight on our Super Moderators

Harry Chotiner

Born and raised in Los Angeles to an upper-middle class Jewish family, Harry has always been connected to the world of film. After college, he went to Rabbinical school for one year before dropping out to get a PhD in History. Harry went on to be the Editor of Socialist Review Magazine, Reader for Francis Coppola at Zoetrope Studios, Head of Story Department at CBS Theatrical Films, Vice President of Creative Affairs at 20th Century Fox, Executive Vice President in film division at Interscope before leaving the movie business to teach History in high school and adult education film classes at New York University. Most importantly, he is married to a wonderful human rights lawyer and is the father of three adorable kids and three delicious grandkids.

Harry will host a discussion around Permanent and introduce several films including In Between, Ismael’s Ghost, and Blade of the Immortal.

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In Between
Ismael’s Ghost
Blade of the Immortal


Joe Fab

Joe Fab is an Emmy-nominated producer, director and writer with over four decades of experience in film and video production, media, and communications. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, the International Documentary Association, and Women In Film And Video (DC), and is well-known for co-directing HBO’s Paper Clips and for producing the premiere presentation of Amazing Peace—a poem by Dr. Maya Angelou—performed by the author.

Joe’s skill and sensitivity in storytelling have earned broad recognition, including the prestigious Christopher Award for achievements in media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” He is now in production on a feature documentary entitled When My Time Comes, on the subject of medical aid in dying, which he is making with Peabody Award-winning broadcaster Diane Rehm and VAFF board member Diane Naughton.

Fab will host discussions around a number of screenings including Bernard and Huey and Roll With Me.

Ben Mankiewicz

Ben Mankiewicz is the primetime host of Turner Classic Movies. When he made his TCM debut in September 2003, he became only the second host hired in the network’s history. During his stint with TCM, he has introduced thousands of movies on the air and conducted long-form interviews with more than one hundred of the industry’s top talents, including Warren Beatty, Billy Bob Thornton, Damien Chazelle, Faye Dunaway, Michael Douglas, Jerry Lewis, Sophia Loren, Eva Maria Saint, Ann-Margret, Leslie Caron, Angie Dickinson, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, and Tom Ford. Ben is also a film and television critic, co-hosting the nationally syndicated At the Movies and currently co-hosting What The Flick?! on the TYT Network. Since 2015, Ben has hosted numerous editions of the International Documentary Association’s Conversation Series, a career retrospective Q&A featuring the leading documentary filmmakers working today, including Werner Herzog, Alex Gibney, and Rory Kennedy. Ben lives in Santa Monica with his beautiful wife, their beautiful daughter, one beautiful dog and one other dog.

Mankiewicz will host discussions around a number of screenings including The Candidate, The Graduate, The Immigrant, The Lodger, and more.

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The Candidate
The Graduate 
The Immigrant 
The Lodger

Mitch Levine

Most recently, Mitch Levine served as creative director of UVA’s Bicentennial Launch Celebration. He is a consultant to filmmakers and film festivals around the world, is the founder of The Film Festival Group, and was the executive director of the Palm Springs Film Festival. He is a film and stage director and a directing member of the renowned Actors Studio. Mitch was Artistic Supervisor of the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson opera Einstein on the Beach and collaborated with Peter Gabriel and Moses Pendleton on the multimedia/dance work Passion. He was the host of AFI’s Great Filmmakers series and moderates many tributes and conversation series events, including last year’s VAFF Salute to Shirley MacLaine. He is currently directing the political comedy God Help Us!, a multimedia setting of Verdi’s Requiem, and an evening of monologues entitled Sex, Relationships, and Sometimes … Love.

Levine will host discussions for Freak Show and Krystal.