Virginia Film Festival releases 2017 lineup

Festival’s 30th year features Spike Lee, William H. Macy and includes over 150 films


The Virginia Film Festival released their 2017 lineup in a press conference Tuesday.

Courtesy Virginia Film Festival | Cavalier Daily

In a press conference held Tuesday at The Jefferson Theater, the first part of the Virginia Film Festival’s 2017 schedule was announced along with several special guests.

Jody Kielbasa, VFF Director and the University’s Vice Provost for the Arts, released to the public several of the films to be shown and released the names of several directors and actors slated to be in attendance. 

Spike Lee was chief among these names, as it was released to the public several weeks ago that he would be a special guest at the Festival. Also announced were actor and director William H. Macy, filmmaker Ezra Edelman and author and University alumna Margot Lee Shetterly.

Macy will be debuting his new film “Krystal,” which he directed and stars in. “Krystal” is a romance set in an Alcoholics Anonymous group and also stars Rosario Dawson.

Edelman’s “O.J.: Made in America,” a five-part documentary detailing the O.J. Simpson trial and its larger racial contexts, will be shown in its entirety at the Festival. Following the conclusion of the documentary, Edelman will be part of an onstage conversation about his work.

Edelman’s film, along with Lee’s “4 Little Girls,” are both part of special Festival series “Race in America.” The VFF partnered with James Madison’s Montpelier for this series, dedicated to exploring the history of slavery present throughout Virginia, some of its most historic buildings and the country at large.

Shetterly will be a special guest associated with “Race in America,” presenting “Hidden Figures” — the 2016 adaptation of her nonfiction book of the same name. The story follows Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three black women who worked behind the scenes at NASA to launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

The film to be shown on the VFF’s opening night is “Downsizing,” a science-fiction dramedy directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau. This is Payne’s third film to be featured on the opening night of the Festival, and will be followed by a conversation with Mark Johnson, “Downsizing” producer and VFF Board chairman .

The 2017 Centerpiece Film is “Hostiles,” a Western directed by Scott Cooper and starring Christian Bale. Cooper will also be part of a conversation after the film is shown.

Of the hundreds of other films to be shown, categories include International, LGBTQIA+, Jewish and Israeli and others that seek to highlight emerging and/or Virginian filmmakers.

According to Kielbasa, more announcements concerning the VFF are to be released in the coming weeks. Check out the current schedule here.

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