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 Announces First Program in Festival Lineup, SHOWTIME Limited Series “The Good Lord Bird” Selected as Featured Special Presentation

by Chandler Ferrebee on August 26, 2020

Virginia Film Festival Announces First Program in Festival Lineup, SHOWTIME Limited Series “The Good Lord Bird” Selected as Featured Special Presentation

The Panel Including Star Ethan Hawke, Author James McBride, Creatives and Cast will be Presented on the Closing Day of the Festival

Based on the National Book Award-Winning Novel, Hawke stars as Abolitionist John Brown in Series Filmed Entirely in Virginia

33rd Annual Virginia Film Festival will be Presented in a Predominantly Virtual Format from October 21-25

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VAAugust 25, 2020 – In a special virtual town hall event with sponsors and supporters, Virginia Film Festival officials announced this evening that the highly anticipated SHOWTIME limited series The Good Lord Bird, produced by Blumhouse Television will be part of its 2020 Virtual Program. The event will include clips, a sneak peek, and virtual conversation with star and executive producer Ethan Hawke, his co-star Joshua Caleb Johnson, executive producer and award-winning author James McBride, who wrote the book on which the series is based, executive producer/screenwriter Mark Richard, and costume designer Amy Andrews Harrell.

The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts. The 33rd annual Virginia Film Festival will be presented in a predominantly virtual format from October 21-25, featuring 50+ narrative and documentary feature films; curated shorts packages; pre-recorded interviews with filmmakers and experts; live panels and conversations; opening and closing night events; and drive-in movies.

The virtual screening and discussion on The Good Lord Bird are presented in partnership with the Virginia Film Office with support from the Virginia Festival of the Book. Exact time, date, and ticket information for the event will be announced in early October.

Set to premiere Sunday, October 4 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on SHOWTIME, The Good Lord Bird is based on the book by the same name from bestselling author James McBride, which won the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. The Good Lord Bird is told from the point of view of “Onion” (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of John Brown’s (Ethan Hawke) motley family of abolitionist soldiers during Bleeding Kansas – a time when the state was a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces – and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid on the Army depot at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but it was an event that hastened the Civil War.

The limited series weaves a humorous, dramatic, and historical tapestry of Antebellum America. The Good Lord Bird is produced by Blumhouse Television.

“We are very excited to host what promises to be a fascinating event and thrilled to partner with SHOWTIME and Blumhouse to highlight one of the most talked-about shows of the Fall television season,” said Jody Kielbasa, VAFF Director and Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia. “We very much look forward to having Ethan back after he joined us last year for a memorable screening of and conversation around Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. We are honored to be joined by award-winning author James McBride as well as by Ethan’s fellow cast member Joshua Caleb Johnson, who gives a true breakout performance in the series. This is a story that is particularly relevant to Virginia, as it changed the course of history not only here in the Commonwealth, but in the entire nation. Finally, we are always proud to partner with and celebrate the Virginia Film Office, which continues to do such an extraordinary job of showcasing all Virginia has to offer to filmmakers and production companies.”

VAFF officials also announced a new partnership with Reel South, a PBS/VPM-sponsored documentary series dedicated to reckoning with the South’s past, present, and future. Starting this year, the Reel South SHORT Award will be presented to a VAFF filmmaker who best reflects the South’s colorful and complex legacy and future. The eligibility criteria are for a short documentary (under 20min) that is about or in the South. The winning filmmaker will receive a $1,000 license fee in exchange for a non-exclusive publication/distribution deal on VPM.

The 2020 Virginia Film Festival program will be announced on October 6. Screening passes to the 2020 Virtual Program will be available for purchase starting September 22, and details on special event tickets and individual virtual tickets will be announced soon in early October. Visit virginiafilmfestival.org for more information.