LH Picks: The Virginia Film Festival

by Chandler Ferrebee

There is always something fun and exciting going on in Charlottesville in the fall, but my favorite weekend is the Virginia Film Festival. I love how every year Charlottesville becomes a place for people to watch and enjoy movies all day for the the first weekend in November. This year has one of the best programs that I have gotten to experience at the Virginia Film Festival. These are the top five movies I am looking forward to most:

1. La La Land is the third film from thirty-one year old Damien Chazelle. It will also most likely give him his second Best Picture nomination and first win. La La Land is a musical in the tradition of the big studio productions of the 50’s. It stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, in their third film together, as an aspiring actress and jazz musician in modern day Los Angeles, trying to balance their dreams and relationship. The film has been greeted with raves at every festival it has screened at and Stone received the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. Released amongst the prestigious films of fall and after the violent superhero movies of summer, La La Land looks like a burst of LA sunshine, making it my most anticipated movie of the year.

La La Land screens Sunday, November 6th at 7:30 pm at The Paramount Theater

2. Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley. Separated from his family in India without enough information to get back home, Brierley is adopted by an Australian family at age five. Twenty years later, he finds his childhood home with the help of Google Maps and sets out on a journey to find his biological family. Lion stars Dev Patel as Brierley and Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother in the two stand out roles of the film. Everyone I have met who has already seen this film has talked of how the impact of Lion has stuck with them for days.

Lion screens Sunday, November 6th at 7:30 pm at Culbreth Theatre

3. From director Adam Smith, known for directing episodes of “Doctor Who” and “Skins,” and with an original score from The Chemical Brothers, Trespass Against Us stars Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender as Colby and Chad Cutler, a father and son who have chosen to live life as thieves and hooligans in one of Britain’s richest areas. When Chad realizes that this might not be the safest life for his young son to be exposed to and plans to leave, Colby plans a heist that might ruin Chad’s future plans. If there’s two things I love, it’s Michael Fassbender and movies about misunderstood criminals and Trespass Against Us looks like an exciting entry into both of those categories.

Trespass Against Us screens Thursday, November 3rd at 9:15 pm at Culbreth Theatre

4. As someone who has lost hours watching behind the scenes features on animated movies, I am very excited for Waking Sleeping Beauty. Directed by Don Hahn, who has produced some of the most respected animated films of all time, from The Lion King to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, it shows a behind the scenes look at how Disney went from losing the box office in the 80’s to the Disney Renaissance in the 90’s. Don Hahn will be here for a discussion after Waking Sleeping Beauty and for a 25th anniversary screening of Beauty and the Beast on Saturday, November 5th with Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle.

Waking Sleeping Beauty screens Sunday, November 6th at 1 pm at Vinegar Hill Theatre

5. Using words from James Baldwin’s final manuscript, “Remember This House,” read by Samuel L. Jackson, and archival footage, I Am Not Your Negro, uses the painful past to reflect on our painful present. The unfinished “Remember This House,” explored the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers. The words that Baldwin used to talk about their lives and deaths and black life as he saw it, are still so relevant today. In Owen Gleiberman’s review of the film for “Variety” he says that, “For Baldwin… the real issue was that if you were black, the complexity of your humanity wasn’t seen. And rights weren’t necessarily going to change that.” Although we have come a long way from the time Baldwin wrote “Remember This House”, it is important to reflect on the past when discussing our fractured present.

I Am Not Your Negro screens Sunday, November 6th at 5 pm at Culbreth Theatre

Chandler Ferrebee is an aspiring filmmaker and program support intern at Light House Studio who practically lives at the movie theater.

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