The 26th annual Virginia Festival of the Book has added four new headlining programs to its schedule, bringing music, poetry and films to the interdisciplinary mix.

A screening of the film “Dark Waters,” director Todd Haynes’ thriller about author Robert Bilott’s 20-year legal struggle with DuPont to expose environmental contamination, will begin at 8 p.m. March 21 at the Paramount Theater.

Bilott will participate in a discussion after the screening and will sign copies of his book, “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed and One Lawyer’s 20-Year Battle Against DuPont,” after the talk. Books will be sold before and after the screening.

Tickets, which are required, can be purchased online at The event is sponsored by Bank of America, Virginia Film Festival, University of Virginia School of Law and the Paramount.

The event is preceded by “Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Poetry, Music and International Exchange” at 4 p.m. March 21, also at the Paramount. The Virginia Festival of the Book will team up with the Virginia Folklife Program to present poet Nina Murray reading from “Alcestis into Underworld,” a recent poetry collection based on her foreign service officer days.

Performers will include Shenandoah Valley multi-instrumentalist Danny Knicely, Cabo Verdery musician Zerui Delian, Sephardic ballad singers Susan Gaeta and Gina Sobel and Richmond gospel stars The Legendary Ingramettes. Virginia state folklorist Jon Lohman will serve as host.

Tickets are required; get them at The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission and the Virginia Folklife Program are sponsoring the event.

“A Conversation with Vashti Harrison” is set for 6 p.m. March 20 at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. The 2020 festival’s youth headliner, an author and illustrator of children’s books, will discuss her work, her time as a University of Virginia undergraduate and her future plans during a conversation with Claudrena Harold, her undergraduate mentor.

Book sales and signing time will follow. The event, which is sponsored by the CFA Institute and hosted by Delta Sigma Theta, is free.

“‘Spirited Away’ & ‘Miyazakiworld’: A Screening and Talk” gets started at 7:30 p.m. March 17 at Violet Crown Charlottesville. It’s sponsored by the Virginia Film Festival as part of its VAFF at Violet Crown series.

Susan Napier, author of “Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art,” will introduce the screening and take part in a post-screening book signing. Tickets, which are required, will go on sale Feb. 19 at

Napier and Shilpa Dave, assistant professor of media studies and American studies at UVa, will discuss the impact of animator Hayao Miyazaki’s films on popular culture around the world in a separate festival event. “Japanese Animation and Global Popular Culture” is scheduled for 4 p.m. March 18 at UVa Bookstore. After the free event will be a book signing and book sales.

Tickets remain available for the Read & Lead Lunch with Jonathan Eig, which is set for 11:45 a.m. March 18. For tickets and information, go to

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