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

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

Beyond the Screen: A Conversation with author Mark Harris

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Join the Virginia Film Festival, in partnership with the Virginia Festival of the Book, for a virtual conversation with author Mark Harris on his new book, Mike Nichols: A Life. The acclaimed biography explores the life, work, struggle, and passion of the celebrated film and stage director. The conversation will be moderated by VAFF associate programmer Joe Fab.  Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris can be purchased locally from the UVA Bookstore

This event is part of the Virginia Film Festival’s Beyond the Screen: A Virtual Conversation Series. All conversations in the series will be free, open to the public, livestreamed on Zoom, and archived on the VAFF’s YouTube channel. Pre-registration is required to attend the livestreamed Zoom conversations. Related films are available to rent or purchase through various streaming platforms prior to the scheduled discussion. For more information on past and upcoming virtual conversations, visit virginiafilmfestival.org/year-round-events.

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

About the book: 

From Mark Harris, the acclaimed author of Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back and writer and columnist for New York magazine, comes a magnificent new biography, Mike Nichols: A Life. With brilliant detail and rich insight, Harris explores the life, work, struggle, and passion of an artist and man in constant motion. This is the first full-scale biography of Mike Nichols, who, as a celebrated film director, stage director, and improv comedian was one of the most protean creative forces in American entertainment history.

Harris interviewed over 250 people for the book, including Elaine May, Meryl Streep, Stephen Sondheim, Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Tom Hanks, Candice Bergen, Emma Thompson, Annette Bening, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Lorne Michaels, and Gloria Steinem. He gives an intimate and evenhanded accounting of success and failure alike; the portrait is not always flattering, but its ultimate impact is to present the full story of one of the most interesting, complicated, and consequential figures the worlds of theater and motion pictures have ever seen. It is a triumph of the biographer’s art.

Praise for Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris

“A pleasure to read and a model biography: appreciative yet critical, unfailingly intelligent and elegantly written . . . a shrewd, in-depth reckoning of the elusive man behind the polished facade. . . . [Harris’s] marvelous book makes palpable in artful detail the extraordinary scope and brilliance of [Nichols’s] achievements.”
—The Washington Post

“There are so many lessons in Mike’s nine-act tragedy and triumph of a life: the joy of collaboration, the thrill of finding collaborators and soulmates; the ups and downs of the creative process. Mark Harris introduces us to every version of Mike Nichols, and shows us how each one prepared the way for the next. It’s an incredible achievement. Required reading.” —Lin-Manuel Miranda

“The book is as smart and well-paced as if Mike had directed it. It’s Virginia Woolf brutal and Birdcage funny. I devoured the details of Mike’s fascinating life, but I also marveled at Mark Harris’s ability to lead us through it. The shaky wooden rollercoaster of collaboration, the serpent-tongued antihero’s path to love, an artist’s guide to not being trash, ten pounds of movie stars in a five pound bag—this book has it all!” —Tina Fey

About the participants:

MARK HARRIS, AUTHOR: Mark Harris is the author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, which was a New York Times notable book of the year, and Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. He is currently a writer for New York, where he often covers the intersection of culture and politics. A graduate of Yale University, Harris lives in New York City with his husband, Tony Kushner.

JOE FAB, MODERATOR: Joe Fab is an Award-winning and Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer with 40 years of experience in documentary film production, media, communications, event production, and the live presentation of plays and music. Best known for the theatrical/HBO documentary Paper Clips, Fab’s most recent documentary about medical aid in dying entitled When My Time Comes, hosted by NPR’s Diane Rehm, premieres on PBS in April 2021. Joe is also an Associate Programmer for the Virginia Film Festival.


Tuesday, March 23


4:00 PM