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

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

News & Press

Virginia Film Festival Launches 2023 Year-Round Film Series

by JennyM on February 9, 2023

VAFF Launches 2023 Year-Round Film Series

VAFF Partners with UVA’s Miller Center and the Center for Strategic and International Studies to Present Documentary and Panel Ukraine: The Human Price of War

VAFF at Violet Crown Returns with To Leslie Featuring Oscar-Nominated Tour-de-Force Performance by Andrea Riseborough

Additional Screenings Include Sundance Sensation Little Richard: I Am Everything and Cannes Film Festival Award-Winner Joyland

Charlottesville, VA – February 9, 2023 – The Virginia Film Festival has announced the launch of its year-round film series with four titles including a partnership with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and Center for Strategic International Studies as well as the return of its popular VAFF at Violet Crown series.

At the one-year mark of Russia’s deadly war in Ukraine, The Miller Center partners with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Virginia Film Festival for a screening of Ukraine: The Price of Human War, a series of short documentary films about the war and its current status. Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion including humanitarian and military experts from CSIS, a leader from the United States Agency for International Development, and a public health expert joining live from Ukraine to discuss the human consequences of the war for Ukrainians, the direction the conflict is heading, and the prospects for diplomacy moving forward. The panel is comprised of Sarah Charles, head of the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) at USAID; Tetiana Deshko, director of international programs for the Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine; Seth Jones, senior vice president, Harold Brown Chair, director of the International Security Program, and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); and J. Stephen Morrison, the Miller Center’s James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor, and senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Presented on Thursday, February 23 at 4:00 PM at The Miller Center, Ukraine: The Price of Human War is free and open to the public. Audiences can register to attend in-person or online at virginiafilmfestival.org.

The newly announced titles for the VAFF at Violet Crown series include To Leslie (Tuesday, February 28); Little Richard: I am Everything (Tuesday, March 21); and Joyland (Tuesday, April 11). All screenings in the series will start at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $13 adult, $11 student, child, and senior, and will be available at violetcrown.com.

Directed by Michael Morris, To Leslie features a tour-de-force performance from Andrea Riseborough that led to a well-deserved Oscar nomination that shocked the Hollywood establishment. Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of a West Texas single mother who wins the lottery and squanders those winnings just as fast, leaving behind a world of heartbreak. Years later, with her charm running out and nowhere to go, she fights to rebuild her life and find redemption. Riseborough, whose performance Variety called “nothing short of spectacular,” is joined by an impressive cast that includes Allison Janney, Marc Maron, Andre Royo, Stephen Root, James Landry Hebert, Matt Lauria, and Catfish Jean.

Tickets for the February 28 screening of To Leslie are available now at virginiafilmfestival.org.

Little Richard: I am Everything (CNN Films/HBO Max) is one of the most acclaimed films to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Director and VAFF alum Lisa Cortés’ eye-opening documentary explodes the whitewashed canon of American pop music, shines a clarifying light on the Black, queer origins of rock and roll, and establishes the genre’s big bang: Richard Wayne Penniman. Variety called it “The enthralling documentary that Little Richard deserves… jubilant and essential.” Testimonials from legendary musicians and cultural figures, Black and queer scholars, Penniman’s family and friends, and interviews with the artist himself all exuberantly reclaim a history that was willfully appropriated by white artists and institutions. Cortés depicts Penniman’s complex journey as a conflicted revolutionary who careened between religion, sex, and rock and roll, navigating the extreme tensions of race and sexuality of his time. The film reminds us that outsiders and outcasts can possess superpowers that, given the chance, can create new worlds for us all to dance in.

The debut film from writer-director Saim Sadiq, Joyland explores the many sides of love and desire in a patriarchal society. Presented in Urdu and Punjabi with English subtitles, the film tells the story of Haider (Ali Junejo), a gentle and timid man who lives with his wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), his father, and his elder brother’s family in Lahore, Pakistan. Following a long spell of unemployment, Haider finally lands a job at a Bollywood-style burlesque, where he tells his family he is a theater manager, but in truth he is backup dancer. As he acclimates to the new job, Haider becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman Biba (Alina Khan) who runs the show – an unforeseen partnership that opens his eyes and ultimately his worldview, in ways both unexpected and intimate. Hailed by Variety as “Tartly funny and plungingly sad in equal measure,” Joyland was the winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.

The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University of Virginia, with support from the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.

The Virginia Film Festival will celebrate its 36th year this fall with dates and details coming soon. For more information on the VAFF, visit virginiafilmfestival.org. The 2023 Virginia Film Festival is presented by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.