Virginia Film Festival


Jody Kielbasa, director of the Virginia Film Festival and vice provost for the arts at the University of Virginia, announces details of this year’s festival at the Jefferson Theater on Tuesday. Featured in the shot behind him is Bryan Stevenson, the subject of “Just Mercy,” one of the upcoming screenings. Find more photos at

Award-winning actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke will visit Charlottesville in October for the 32nd annual Virginia Film Festival, according to a lineup announced Tuesday.

Hawke will participate in a conversation about his career before a screening of “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” in which he co-stars opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Hawke is just one of a long list of notable guests who will attend the festival to discuss their work and introduce screenings of critically acclaimed films.

Other notable guests at the festival, which runs Oct. 23-27, include actor Ann Dowd; international bestselling author John Grisham; actor Dennis Christopher; and acclaimed filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu.

Notable screenings include “Harriet,” which was filmed in Virginia; “Just Mercy,” about the American criminal justice system; and “Jojo Rabbit,” about a nationalist German boy who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s regime.

“We are thrilled to announce our 2019 program,” Jody Kielbasa, director of the Virginia Film Festival and vice provost for the arts at the University of Virginia, said in a news release. “Once again, we have a lineup of films that includes some of the year’s most heavily discussed titles of the awards season, plus some of the most exciting work from around the globe.”

“Just Mercy,” which will screen on opening night, chronicles the true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned and those trapped in the furthest reaches of the criminal justice system.

The movie “Harriet,” based on the life of Harriet Tubman, will screen Oct. 26. From acclaimed writer/director Kasi Lemmons, and starring Cynthia Erivo, the story of one woman’s journey to freedom remembers the dark and grueling realities of slavery. The screening will be followed by a panel featuring actor Vanessa Bell Calloway and producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg.

A full program with times and dates of events will be posted at at 9 a.m. Thursday.

This year, Kielbasa and assistant programmer Chandler Ferrebee were supported by a team of guest programmers led by Andrew Rodgers, former executive director of the RiverRun International Film Festival and the Denver Film Society; and internationally acclaimed producer and film scholar Iana Dontcheva.

The guest programmer team also includes indigenous artist and filmmaker Federico Cuatlacuatl; “Another Slave Narrative” filmmaker Michelle Jackson; filmmaker and programmer Joe Fab; international film scholar and curator Samhita Sunya; new-media artist and scholar Mona Kasra; and Washington Jewish Film Festival director Ilya Tovbis.

“We are constantly striving to expand our reach and to showcase as wide a cultural range as possible in order to serve and to grow a diverse audience for the Virginia Film Festival,” Kielbasa said in the release. “This team approach has greatly helped to achieve this goal, and we are proud to work with these experts as we continue to evolve as a festival.”

Tickets will go on sale at noon Monday at; in person at the UVa Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVa Drama Building, open noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; and by phone at (434) 924-3376. Beginning Oct. 16, tickets also will be available at the festival’s box office in the lobby of Violet Crown on the Downtown Mall.

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