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

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

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School Screenings

In order to promote the health and safety of our community members, School Screenings will not take place during the 2022 Festival. Below you will find an archive of the Virginia Film Festival's School Screening, an annual, free screening 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 lesson.


Past School Screenings

In 2020, the VAFF presented Boys State as the School Screening in collaboration with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Boys State covers complex themes like democracy; civil engagement; civil discourse; race & politics; and gender, masculinity, and identity. The screening was offered for free to Charlottesville and surrounding area Virginia middle and high school students and their teachers via a virtual screening and pre-recorded discussions including:

In 2019, VAFF screened True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality, a narrative documentary that follows Alabama public interest attorney, Bryan Stevenson, as he tirelessly fights 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 Bryan Stevenson’s own story with those of his clients, the film examines how a culture built on racial injustice emerged in this country, illuminating the history of complicity by our justice system.

In 2018, VAFF screened Science Fair, a documentary that follows nine high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries, setbacks, and hormones, on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair. The film offers a front seat to the victories, defeats, and motivations of an incredible group of young men and women who are on a path to change their lives, and the world, through science. The film was followed by a panel of local educators and leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

In April 2017,  VAFF partnered with Youth Leadership Initiative to present the Emmy award-winning documentary Out of Order: Civility in Politics. Out of Order explores what many perceive to be a kind of broken politics in America and examines the decline in civil discourse, partisan gridlock, vanishing commitment to reasonable compromise, declining civic engagement, and factors such as gerrymandering, filibustering, increased showboating, money, and the role of business, scandal, and cynicism. Following the screening, students participated in a civil discussion workshop.

In 2016,  VAFF collaborated with Human/Ties and the UVA Center for Politics Youth Leadership Initiative to screen Freedom Riders, a documentary about the hundreds of civil activists who used nonviolence to challenge racial segregation in the American South. To further engage students, a post-screening discussion and Q&A featured director Stanley Nelson and the 1961 Freedom Riders, Rev. Reginald Green, Dion Diamond, and Joan Browning. Freedom Riders Teachers Guide

In 2015, VAFF screened Most Likely To Succeed, a documentary that examines both the history and future of education in the United States. The documentary follows the success of one charter school in San Diego, used as the subject for commentary on the current state of the educational system. Most Likely To Succeed Discussion Guide

In 2014, VAFF presented Freedom Summer, the story of a group of more than 700 students of all races who fought for the rights of African-Americans to vote in Mississippi in the summer of 1964. After the screening, Julian Bond, civil rights leader, history professor and former national NAACP chairman, and Deborah McDowell, Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at U.Va. discussed the film with the students. Freedom Summer Teaching Guide

In 2013, VAFF presented William and the Windmill, the story of a fourteen-year-old Malawian boy who built an electricity-generating windmill from rough plans in a library book in order to save his family’s farm. A discussion with Ben Nabors, the director of William and the Windmill, Remy Pangle from the Virginia Center for Wind, and Joanna Williams from U.Va.’s Curry School of Education followed the screening. William and the Windmill Study Guide

In January 2012, the Virginia Film Festival partnered with the U.Va. Office of Diversity and Equity and the Center for Politics to present the HBO Documentary Sing Your Song. Larry Sabato and activist Harry Belafonte participated in a post-screening discussion.

Also in 2012, the Festival presented Chasing Ice, a documentary about National Geographic photographer James Balog’s quest to document the disappearance of glacier landscapes using time-lapse photography. Chasing Ice Study Guide

The 2011 screening was The Loving Story, a documentary that chronicles the tale of Richard and Mildred Loving, the Virginia interracial couple who, in the 1960’s, took their battle for acceptance all the way to the Supreme Court, and changed history in the process. A panel discussion organized by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities followed the film. The Loving Story Study Guide

In 2010, director Stanley Nelson and three of the original Freedom Riders participated in a discussion following Freedom Riders, a compelling documentary about non-violent civil rights activists willing to risk their lives for a cause. Freedom Riders Study Guide