The Virginia Film Festival will partner with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to present “The Levys of Monticello” at the 35th annual festival, taking place November 2-6.
The announcement, which is part of a preview of the stakeholder reception held Tuesday night at the Bradbury on the Mall in downtown Charlottesville, also included information that the festival will screen “My Father’s Dragon.” Alumnus of the University of Virginia and member of the VAFF advisory board, Julie Lynn is the producer of Netflix’s highly anticipated animated family film.
Jody Kielbasa, VAFF Director and UVa Vice Rector for the Arts, and Ilya Tovbis, VAFF Senior Programmer, revealed details of the upcoming event and also announced that renowned film critic Carlos Aguilar will be the festival’s first resident critic.
Aguilar was one of six young film critics chosen to participate in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and his work has been widely published in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture and many other publications.
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Kielbasa mentioned that the festival remains committed to its core values, despite the changes brought to the industry by the rise of streaming.
“While streaming has provided a level of convenience that seemed impossible just a few years ago, there is no substitute for the community experience [of] watch a movie and share your impressions with other members of the public,” Kielbasa, who is in his 14th year as director of VAFF, said in a statement. “As anyone who has been to the Festival knows, there is an electricity created by our audience engagement that simply cannot be replicated elsewhere. We can’t wait to bring that back to Charlottesville this year.
“The Levys of Monticello,” by Menemsha Films and director Steven Pressman, tells the story of the Levy family, who owned and preserved Monticello for nearly a century after the deeply indebted third president died in 1826 and his heirs were to sell his beloved. house and personal effects. The story of the Levys, a Jewish family who owned the house longer than Jefferson and his descendants, also draws attention to the impact of anti-Semitism throughout American history.
“My Father’s Dragon” is based on the children’s book by Newbery winner Ruth Stiles Gannett. VAFF will partner with the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library and the Central Library Children’s Department to present an October Book Group and Talks to help engage local children and families.
The new film version from Oscar-nominated director Nora Twomey and five-time Oscar-nominated animation studio Cartoon Saloon focuses on Elmer (played by Jacob Tremblay), who struggles to cope after moving to town with his mother and flees in search of Wild Island and Boris (Gaten Matarazzo), a young dragon to save.
The full schedule of films, events and guests for this year’s festival will be announced on October 11, and tickets will go on sale on October 18. For more information, visit virginiafilmfestival.org.