Record Numbers of Film-Goers Enjoy Deep and Diverse Program Featuring High Profile Special Guests Meg Ryan, Oliver Stone, Leonard Maltin, and Larry Kramer and More Than 130 Films Covering Wide Range of Genres, Nations, Issues, and Topics
Brooklyn Earns Audience Award for Top Narrative Feature While Until 20 Takes Best Documentary Feature Honors
Charlottesville, VA – November 11, 2015 – Virginia Film Festival officials announced today what attendees and special guests of the Festival saw all weekend long – that by every possible measure, the 28th Annual VFF was an unqualified success.
The Virginia Film Festival is presented by the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.
The 2015 Virginia Film Festival welcomed Hollywood heavy hitters like Meg Ryan and Oliver Stone, famed film historian and critic Leonard Maltin, history-making writer and activist Larry Kramer, rising stars like Israel Broussard and Maddie Hasson, and more than 100 filmmakers covering territory from right here in Virginia to points all across the globe.
Record numbers of film fans streamed into theaters across Charlottesville throughout the four-day festival to take in more than 130 films and special events in what was one of the VFF’s deepest and most diverse programs in its 28-year history.
Festival officials report that an all-time record 31,860 tickets were issued, topping the previous mark, set last year. The 2015 VFF included 41 sold-out screenings and set another revenue record, coming in at $192,567.
“This was, in every way, an extraordinary year for us,” said VFF Director and U.Va. Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa. “Each year as we go through the process of putting together our program, we are inspired to raise the bar for what we know is one of the most engaged and enthusiastic film festival audiences in America. The way our patrons came out to support this program this year is truly remarkable, humbling, and gratifying. “
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: Brooklyn by John Crowley
Narrative Short : The Present by Jacob Frey
Documentary Feature: Until 20 by Geraldine Moriba-Meadows & Jamila Paksima
Documentary Short: Teen Press by T.C. Johnstone
Also announced were the winners of the 2015 Programmer’s Awards:
“Another highlight of this year’s Festival was the opportunity for us to introduce audiences to the beautiful new Violet Crown Charlottesville on the Downtown Mall,” Kielbasa said, “which offered an extraordinary screening experience for our patrons and served as the home of our Festival Headquarters and Box Office.”
The response to the Festival was equally gratifying from the visiting filmmakers, Kielbasa said. “More than any other year, we are hearing from filmmakers, both anecdotally and on social media, that this was one of the best overall festival experiences they have had, including from those who frequent some of the highest profile festivals in the industry.”
The diversity of experiences at this year’s VFF, Kielbasa said, was crystallized for him on Friday night following the sold-out screening of Meg Ryan’s directorial debut, Ithaca, at The Paramount Theater. “I walked out of the theater with 1,100 people who poured out onto the Downtown Mall still talking about the film and the highly entertaining discussion with Meg Ryan, and was engulfed by a crowd that included those leaving the screening and those waiting to attend the next screening of the acclaimed Norwegian disaster film The Wave. The energy out there was just amazing, and it will forever remind me of the atmosphere we are able to create with the Festival by offering the breadth of experiences we do, including star-powered features, international award-contenders, and films that surround issues our audiences care deeply about, like civil rights, education, autism, and sustainability, to name just a few.”
The audience engagement extended to the community as well, Kielbasa said, including through the Festival’s always-popular Family Day offerings. This year’s Family Day reached over 2,700 local children and their families and included free film screenings, the acclaimed VFF Young Filmmakers program, which saw more than 450 local elementary and middle school students debut their own short films, and a series of film-themed Arts Workshops that saw more young people than ever before enjoy immersive and interactive experiences in acting, makeup, music for the movies and more.
Another of the secrets of this year’s VFF success, according to Kielbasa, lies in the people who work so hard to put it together. “This year more than ever, our staff went above and beyond in every way. From the extraordinary work of our Festival Programmer Wesley Harris in putting this program together, to the impeccable leadership shown by Managing Director Jenny Mays, to the talent and enthusiasm shown by our entire staff, our terrific U.Va. interns, and our always-growing corps of Festival volunteers, this entire team was instrumental in what was a high-water mark for this Festival.”
The 2015 Virginia Film Festival was generously supported by the following Premiere Sponsors: The AV Company, The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, Virginia Film Office, Violet Crown, and Wells Fargo.
Photos from the 2015 Virginia Film Festival are available at https://virginiafilmfestival.org/presskit/.
For more information on the Virginia Film Festival, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org.