VAFF to Present Acclaimed HBO Documentary True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality as Annual School Screening

Festival Officials Also Announce Family Day Appearance by Sesame Street Star Elmo as Part of Partnership with VPM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VAAUGUST 26, 2019 – The Virginia Film Festival, announced today that it will present the acclaimed HBO documentary True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality as its annual school screening on Wednesday, October 23 at 10:00 AM at The Paramount Theater.

The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts. The 32nd annual Festival will take place from October 23-27, 2019, in Charlottesville and will include more than 150 films and 100+ industry guests from around the world.

Every year VAFF hosts free screenings of a socially relevant film for students and their teachers. Experts on film, ethics, and other disciplines speak to the subjects of the film after the screening, providing a fascinating and accessible out-of-the-classroom lesson. The School Screening is free and open to private, public, and homeschool middle and high school students throughout the Commonwealth. Advance registration is required, and seats are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. For more info and to register today, visit http://virginiafilmfestival.org/school-screenings/.

Festival officials also have announced that, in partnership with VPM: Virginia’s home for Public Media, Elmo, the beloved Sesame Street star of stars, will be on hand to greet kids and families at the annual VAFF Family Day, to be held at the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds on Saturday, October 26.  The Festival will also screen two episodes of Sesame Street to celebrate the show’s 50th Anniversary.

For more than 30 years, Alabama public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson has tirelessly fought for a more equitable criminal justice system. As the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson has dedicated his career to advocating for the disadvantaged, incarcerated, and wrongfully condemned. Weaving together Stevenson’s own story with those of his clients, True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality examines the history of complicity by our justice system, revealing how a culture built on racial injustice emerged in this country. This documentary, directed by Peter Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt, and George Kunhardt, also details the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. This film provides an intimate depiction of Stevenson’s unwavering dedication to equality and the value of seeking truth and reconciliation. A panel of local experts to host a post-screening discussion on the film and Q&A session with the students will be announced later this Fall.

“We are proud to continue our school screening tradition of sharing meaningful and thought-provoking documentaries with students from throughout our region with this remarkable film,” said Jody Kielbasa, Director of the Virginia Film Festival and Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia. “Bryan Stevenson is one of our world’s true social justice heroes, and the efforts depicted in this film to right the ultimate wrongs for the most marginalized in our world are inspiring beyond measure.”

The announcements were made at the VAFF Stakeholders Reception at Prime 109, where a large crowd heard from Kielbasa as well as from one of the Festival’s Senior Guest Programmer, Andrew Rodgers. Rodgers, the former head of the Denver Film Society and RiverRun International Film Festival, is working with co-Senior Guest Programmer Iana Dontcheva, a veteran film producer, educator, and programmer; VAFF Assistant Programmer Chandler Ferrebee; and a team of guest programmers to continue to grow the VAFF program and to further expand the Festival’s reach.

The 2019 Guest Programmer team for the VAFF will include indigenous artist and filmmaker Federico Cuatlacuatl; Another Slave Narrative filmmaker Michelle Jackson; Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer Joe Fab; international film scholar and curator Samhita Sunya; new media artist and scholar Mona Kasra; and director of the Washington Jewish Music Festival and Washington Jewish Film Festival Ilya Tovbis.

VPM: Virginia’s home for Public Media is the largest locally owned and operated public media company in Central Virginia. As Virginia’s home for public media, VPM provides the best of PBS and NPR programming coupled with a strong set of community-based programs and services designed to make an important impact in the areas of arts, news, history, science, and education. Each week, VPM’s stations are accessible to nearly 2 million people across Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. More information may be found at www.VPM.org.

The 2019 Virginia Film Festival program will be announced on Tuesday, September 24. The full schedule of films and guests will be available to browse online on Thursday, September 26, and tickets will go on sale Monday, September 30. For more information, visit virginiafilmfestival.org.

The 2019 VAFF School Screening is presented by CFA Institute.

The 2019 Virginia Film Festival is presented by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. The 2019 Virginia Film Festival is generously supported by the following Premiere Sponsors: The AV Company, Bank of America, CFA Institute, Harvest Moon Catering, James Madison’s Montpelier, Violet Crown, Virginia Film Office, and VPM: Virginia’s home for Public Media.

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