37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL Oct 30-Nov 3, 2024

37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL October 30-November 3, 2024

2020 Festival Highlights


Spotlight Films

Boys StateJesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary takes us inside the Texas Boys State competition, which brings together more than 1,100 high school civics students for a mock government exercise each year. Recently called a “nerdier, less lethal Lord of the Flies” by The Atlantic, the film offers unavoidable parallels to our political present and future and highlights the effects of America’s current deep political divides. The film will be preceded by an introduction with U. S. Senator Tim Scott and will be the subject of a conversation moderated by Larry Sabato, director of the UVA Center for Politics, and including former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Presented by UVA Center for Politics and supported by The Jefferson Trust.

When My Time Comes with a live conversation featuring Diane Rehm, Joe Fab, and Diane Naughton on Thursday, October 22 at 5:30 PM – Peabody-award winner Diane Rehm began to examine the option of medical aid in dying after losing her beloved husband John Rehm. This documentary feature interweaves the Rehms’ experience with those of other patients and families across the U.S., as well as the views of experts, on the issue of medical aid in dying. Supported by New Dominion Bookshop, The UVA Bookstore, and Virginia Festival of the Book. Order your copy of When My Time Comes with New Dominion Bookshop or UVA Bookstores.

Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story with a conversation featuring Doc Severinsen – After three decades as the colorful bandleader to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, master trumpeter Doc Severinsen defies nature with a relentless schedule of touring, teaching and performing into his nineties. Supported by Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

All In: The Fight for Democracy with an introduction by Stacey Abrams – This timely documentary traces the history of the right to vote, and investigates racist practices of voter suppression and how these barriers continue to disenfranchise predominantly non-white voters today. Presented by UVA Center for Politics and supported by UVA Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

Film still: Boys State


Spotlight Discussions

The South on Screen: A Conversation with Ray McKinnon – Actor, writer, and director Ray McKinnon leads a conversation on what it means for a Southern artist to present his culture truthfully and with respect on screen, and the art of telling completely universal and human stories in a distinct and authentic Southern voice.

The Anti-Social Network – A Special 10th Anniversary screening of David Fincher’s The Social Network will be accompanied by a discussion of the social media giant’s impacts on our society featuring Roger McNamee, the high-profile Silicon Valley fund manager, venture capitalist, early Facebook investor and Mark Zuckerberg mentor who later wrote the book Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe. The discussion will be moderated by Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of Media Studies at UVA and a prominent cultural historian and author whose acclaimed works include Antisocial Media: How Facebook Undermines Democracy and The Googlization of Everything – And Why We Should Worry.

A Conversation on Netflix’s Athlete A – Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk will discuss their process in creating Athlete A, a thorough investigation of decades-long systemic abuse and institutionalized corruption within the world of gymnastics. This harrowing documentary from Netflix sheds light on the horrific sexual abuse of hundreds of young athletes by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar and the team of tireless investigative journalists at The Indianapolis Star who worked to hold USAG and Larry Nassar accountable. The discussion will be moderated by UVA Assistant Professor Bonnie Hagerman, who teaches Women, Gender, and Sport: A History of American Female Athletes.

Film still: The Social Network


Spotlight Documentaries

Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team Directed by Charlottesville-based filmmaker Lori Shinseki, and presented by The Miller Center at the University of Virginia, Statecraftfollows the foreign policy team of President George H.W. Bush as they navigated the challenges that came with transitioning from a Cold War to a post-Cold War world at a time when heightened U.S.-Soviet tensions gave way to delicate negotiations between the two former adversaries. Presented by The Miller Center and VPM. 

Fish & Men – Facing the dire consequences of a demand-driven seafood economy,  pioneering fishermen and celebrated chefs are championing a new movement to return sustainability to both fish and fishermen. Fish & Men showcases a revolutionary new supply-based model focusing on local, seasonal, sustainable fish–where consumers can discover new varieties of storied seafood and reconnect once again to those who risk their lives to harvest from the sea for us.

The Last Out – Three young Cuban baseball players leave their families and risk exile to train in Central America and chase their dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. Told with rawness and urgency, this documentary feature reveals the very human story of people caught between countries who want nothing more than a better life for their families.

Feels Good Man – Artist Matt Furie had no idea when he was creating Pepe the Frog, an innocuous laid-back humanoid amphibian cartoon, that Pepe would transform into a symbol for the hate of the alt-right. This documentary explores an unexpected cultural rift, offering a vivid, moving portrait of an artist battling to regain control of his vandalized creation set in the very strange reality we’ve all found ourselves living in. Supported by UVA Deliberative Media Lab.

Film still: Feels Good Man