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Virginia Film Festival has a theme: Speed

The 17th annual Virginia Film Festival is a four-day whirlwind program of screenings, performances, panels, and parties. Based at the University of Virginia and set to run from October 28-31, 2004, the Virginia Film Festival infuses the campus and community at large with its thematic presentations and special events. This year’s theme of SPEED will explore our accelerated culture of fast foods and quick cuts, as well as the history of racing and chasing in the movies. A remarkable lineup of guest directors, including Paul Schrader, David Gordon Green, and Nicole Kassell, will be joined by a wide range of accomplished guests including artist Sharon Lockhart, actor Walton Goggins, musician Jim White, and philosopher/tour guide “Speed” Levitch.
“We are delighted to present the Festival’s most varied and exhilarating program to date with over a hundred films and guest speakers from around the world”, says Herskowitz. “Of course, our programming on the theme of “Speed” doesn’t necessarily mean fast. While many of the films we are showing will quicken the pulse of audiences, we will also be exploring the flip side of that by featuring a ‘cinema of contemplation.’ Through such works as David Gordon Green’s Undertow and Paul Schrader’s Light Sleeper, we’ll examine the work of directors who favor the long take over the quick cut.”
Acclaimed writer/director Paul Schrader will be present to discuss his increasingly well-regarded 1992 film Light Sleeper, starring Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon, on Friday, October 29th at 7 p.m. at the Regal. Schrader will also lead the audience through a Shot-By–Shot Workshop on Pickpocket, directed by Robert Bresson, another auteur who worked, in Schrader’s words, in a contemplative “transcendental style” (Friday, October 29th at 4 p.m. at the Regal).
To stimulate more of an adrenaline rush, stunt man Loren Janes will present a special tribute to Steve McQueen on Saturday, October 30th at 1p.m. and discuss the tire-squealing, burning rubber apex of their car chase movie, Bullitt. Fast-talking New York City writer, performer, and tour guide Timothy “Speed” Levitch will attend the screening of The Cruise, a documentary record of his brilliant flights of imaginative rapping on New York City bus tours (Friday, October 29th at 4 p.m. at the Culbreth Theater). Levitch will also conduct his own brand of philosophical walking tours of the Rotunda and Lawn on Saturday, October 30th at noon and 2pm.
John W. Warner will also present the world premiere of the final film in his racing trilogy, The Golden Era of NASCAR, and will be joined by his father Senator John Warner, the film’s narrator and noted racing enthusiast (Saturday, October 30th at 4pm, Culbreth).
Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival winner, Jeff Wadlow, returns to the Festival this year to lead a group of 12 filmmaking teams in the Adrenaline Film Project, a 72-hour headlong rush into moviemaking which will kick off on Wednesday, October 27th along with a free outdoor screening at the UVA amphitheatre. The results of the frenetic moviemaking blitz will be screened on Sunday, October 31st at 4 p.m. in the Culbreth Theater.

Special Premiere Presentations
The Festival is proud to present a number of regional premieres including Opening Night’s critically acclaimed The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Benjamin Bratt. Directed by Nicole Kassell, who will be attending the festival, The Woodsman was a sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, tackling the redemptive story of a man released from prison for child sexual abuse with sensitivity and grace. Thursday, October 28th at 8 p.m. at the Culbreth.
Two of this year’s regional premieres travel similar Southern emotional terrain, examining marginalized characters in rural landscapes while defying stereotypes and imbuing their characters with emotional depth and subtlety.
David Gordon Green’s Undertow (Friday, October 29th at 10 p.m. at the Regal), starring Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas, features a fabulous performance by young actor Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott) as the older brother forced to take care of his sibling while caught in a bitter family fight between his widower father and slimy uncle. Green will be at the festival not only to discuss this film, but to talk with editor Billy Weber about the work of one of his foremost film influences, the great Terrence Malick, whose Days of Heaven will screen as part of the ‘Cinema of Contemplation’ (Sunday, October 31st at 10 a.m. at the Regal).
Chrystal, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Lisa Blount (in a revelatory performance), is the story of a husband and wife reunited after he is released from prison. Sixteen years earlier, he crashed the family car while running from the law with his wife and son inside. Returning home to search for something that no longer exists, the two broken people slowly learn to reach out for one another. The film is directed by Academy Award-winning writer/director Ray McKinnon (The Accountant), who works in a unique collaboration with his wife Blount and actor/producer Walton Goggins (The Shield), and all three will be attending the Festival. McKinnon’s scary performance as the gnarly crank-smoking backwoods drug dealer is worth the price of admission (Saturday, October 30th at the Regal at 7:00 p.m.)
Mondovino, directed by filmmaker and sommelier Jonathan Nossiter, examines the increasing pressure of Napa Valley on winemakers everywhere to accelerate the process of slow and deliberate maturation. Wine importer Neal Rosenthal will join producer Ricardo Preve on “Slow Sunday,” October 31st, when the festival will follow a 10:15 a.m. show of Mondovino with a Slow Food Brunch (1pm, location TBA) and a selection of films from the Slow Food on Film Festival in Italy (4pm, Regal). Ricardo Preve will also introduce his company’s production, Tango: A Strange Turn (Saturday, Oct. 30th , 7:15 p.m., Regal), a brilliantly cinematic rendering of musicians and dancers in performance in contemporary Buenos Aires.
The Independent Film Channel will present Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, a documentary on the Los Angeles-based pay cable station and its obsessive, and ultimately homicidal, programmer Jerry Harvey. Harvey’s Z Channel served as the definitive source for independent film and, before the age of the DVD director’s cut, favored long, uncut films for unhurried viewers. Testimonials are offered by Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, and other Z Channel devotees. (Friday, October 29th at 4:15 p.m. - Regal.)


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