Who We Are
The Virginia Film Festival, now in its 36 year, is a program of the University of Virginia and is widely recognized as one of the leading regional film festivals in America and is known for its commitment to taking audience beyond the screen to explore some of the most important issues of our time. Known as one of the premier cultural events in the Mid-Atlantic, the annual five-day festival annually delivers more than 100 films from around the world, combining special previews of some of the hottest titles of the festival season with an array of fascinating documentaries, exciting new voices on the independent film scene, the best of the international film scene and more. In a fast-changing cinema landscape where the means of delivery have reshaped the way many experience the art of filmmaking today, the VAFF is deeply committed to presenting and celebrating the unique brand of magic that happens when audiences gather in person to create a community in which to experience a film. Central to this commitment is the yearly lineup of compelling conversations around its films that bring some of today’s leading film artists and cultural figures with subject area experts from the University and beyond to explore some of the most important issues of our time. Under the leadership of its Director and the UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa, the Festival continues to deepen its connections with and commitment to the community that helps shape and support its efforts year after year.
Past VAFF guests: Jonathan Majors, Ashley Judd, Ethan Hawke, Wanuri Kahiu, Spike Lee, Shirley McLaine, Werner Herzog, Meg Ryan, Jeremy O. Harris, Danny McBride, and Richard Roundtree.
Recent VAFF Films: Women Talking, Living, The Power of the Dog, C’mon C’mon, Spencer, The Harder They Fall, The French Dispatch, Nomadland, One Night in Miami
The Virginia Film Festival’s mission is:
- To educate and engage audiences of all races, gender identities, physical abilities, LGBTQIA+ status, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds in an open dialogue on the art of film through a five-day annual festival and year-round screenings and events.
- To foster inclusive conversations between audiences, artists, students, and academics around films and how they relate to the world in which we live.
- To support films and filmmakers of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Our Program & Our Impact
Cultivating Community Dialogue
The Virginia Film Festival is known throughout the industry not just for its films but for the dynamic and interactive conversations that follow them. Thanks to our unique and deep ties to the University of Virginia and our home in Charlottesville, we are able to bring together world-renowned academic and cultural experts to engage with our audiences and help all involved develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the most important issues of our time. The Festival’s longstanding partnerships with renowned institutions like The Miller Center or Public Affairs, the UVA Center for Politics, and The Library of Congress only strengthen its reach and impact, and help to deliver memorable audience experiences year in and year out.
Celebrating Diverse Voices
We give a platform to the rich diversity of our community through our sidebar series of films and guests, supported by our diverse team of guest programmers. Our inclusive sidebar series include American Perspectives, LGBTQIA+ Focus, Jewish & Israeli Voices, Middle Eastern & South Asian, Korean films, Black Excellence, and most recently a series highlighting Indigenous Americans in Film.
Supporting Virginia Filmmaking
We work closely with the Virginia Film Office to shine a spotlight on the ever-increasing profile of the Commonwealth of Virginia as a home for major film and television projects. Over the past several years alone, we have been proud to host high-profile pre-release screenings of Virginia-based films and series including Harriet, with actor Vanessa Bell Calloway and producer Daniela Taplin Lundberg; Loving, with director Jeff Nichols and producer Colin Firth; and the world premiere of Big Stone Gap with writer/director Adriana Trigiani alongside actors Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Jenna Elfman, and Jasmine Guy.
Each year the Festival brings in a fascinating selection of guests, from internationally acclaimed directors and actors to professors and leading cultural experts who lead discussions that stimulate, educate, and engage. Recent guests include Jonathan Majors, Jeremy O. Harris, Dustin Lance Black, Judith Ivey, Spike Lee, Shirley MacLaine, Werner Herzog, Ethan Hawke, Allen Hughes, Colin Firth, Meg Ryan, Christoph Waltz, Ben Mankiewicz, Ashley Judd, Oliver Stone, Sandra Bullock, Tippi Hedren, Matthew Broderick, Stanley Nelson, January Jones, Cherry Jones, Will Forte, Mia Wasikowska, and Jorma Taccone.
Our Annual Program
VAFF by the Numbers
- 17,000+ Total Attendances
- 115+ Total Films & Events
- 28 Sold Out Events
- 35 Countries Represented
- 70+ Industry Guests
- 40+ Discussants
- 2,000+ UVA Student Tickets
- 150+ Volunteers
Visit our Archives page to view our most recent Annual Report as well as to explore the films & guests featured in recent VAFF programs.
Responses below from our 2022 audience survey.
- 28% of survey takers identify as a member of a historically disenfranchised and/or under-represented group
- 3.53 – average # of screenings/events attendeed across all audiences
- 37% 18-34 years old
- 13% 35-54 yo
- 40% 55-74 yo
- 9.5% 75+ yo
- 0.5% younger than 18
- 79% Residents of Charlottesville/Albemarle
- 21% From other Virginia cities/counties or Out of State
- 80% Post-Secondary Degree
- 32% Household income $100,000+
- 62% Have a connection to UVA
TOP 3 REASONS OUR AUDIENCES ENJOY THE VAFF
- Quality, diversity, and selection of films
- Friendly and festive atmosphere
- Wonderful venues
Beyond the Films
During the Festival, celebrations and special events provide a fun opportunity to mingle with other film lovers and filmmakers. The Opening Night Gala on the first night of the Festival is a great way to enjoy the company in a comfortably elegant atmosphere that brings classic Hollywood to life. Throughout the Festival, the Filmmakers and Sponsors Lounge provides an exclusive place for donors, sponsors, actors, and filmmakers to meet, interact, and refuel between screenings. It is also the venue for a panel discussion hosted by the Virginia Film Office. The Late Night Wrap Party following Saturday’s Centerpiece Film is a high-energy event that provides the perfect exclamation point for the weekend, complete with tasty late-night snacks, music, dancing, and a chance to celebrate the weekend with VAFF guests and fans.