With the future of Filmfest DC in doubt, and the fledgling Middleburg Film Festival yet to make its mark, the long-running VA Film Festival is poised to have an even greater impact entering its 26th year. Held on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, the event has routinely drawn incredible guests and presented a diverse slate of independent, local, international, and Oscar-contending films as part of its main slate. The festival last year offered an early look at Silver Linings Playbook, Rust & Bone, and the acclaimed documentary West of Memphis, and now it looks like they're following it up with an even better selection.
The main slate of films has been announced and things start off with a bang as Alexander Payne's Nebraska will be the Opening Night film, accompanied by special guests Will Forte and producer Ron Yerxa. It's already won its share of accolades with Bruce Dern taking home Best Actor at Cannes. Other films that are also part of the Middleburg roster include John Wells' August: Osage County starring Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep; Philomena with Judi Dench and Steve Coogan; Alex Gibney's The Armstrong Lie; and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela.
The big guns come out with the addition of Palm d'Or winner Blue is the Warmest Color; James Franco's Cormac McCarthy adaptation Child of God featuring special guest Scott Haze; Jeffrey Wright will be on hand for a screening of crime drama A Single Shot (review here) starring Sam Rockwell; and Shia LaBeouf's indie thriller Charlie Countryman has made the list. Ralph Fiennes' Charles Dickens biopic The Invisible Woman co-starring Felicity Jones is a major get for the festival; so is Asgar Farhadi's The Past starring Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim.
Other notable additions include Ari Posen's The Face of Love starring Robin Williams and Annette Bening; the Maryland-based family drama I Used to be Darker arrives accompanied by special guest, local musician and star Ned Oldham. There will also be a showing of Jem Cohen's acclaimed Museum Hours, plus offbeat comedy and Sundance Award-winner Computer Chess makes an appearance; and so does the psycho-sexual thriller Il Futuro starring Rutger Hauer.
That's just the tip of the iceberg for what is shaping up to be the biggest Virginia Film Festival ever. The festival runs from November 7-10, and you can check out the full line-up and purchase tickets here.