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Big names announced for Virginia Film Festival in C’ville 0

Actor, writer and filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich will return to the Virginia Film Festival this year to present a recently completed work by Orson Welles, a Welles documentary and his own documentary on silent film legend Buster Keaton.

Director and producer Allen Hughes will be there to present and discuss “The Defiant Ones,” his popular HBO docuseries, and take part in a special screening of “Menace II Society.” He also will participate in the Welles events by hosting a discussion of “F is for Fake,” a Welles classic he cites as an important influence on his own filmmaking.

The program for the 31st annual festival, set for Nov. 1 to 4 in a variety of Charlottesville and University of Virginia locations, was revealed Tuesday. The full 2018 festival schedule will be available online starting at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Tickets for more than 150 films, plus related events, will go on sale at noon Monday. They may be purchased online at virginiafilmfestival.org, in person from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays at the UVa Arts Box Office in the lobby of the Drama Building, or by phone at (434) 924-3376.

Bogdanovich will unveil “The Other Side of the Wind,” a recently completed work that ended up in limbo after Welles’ death in 1985. Bogdanovich and the late John Huston also star in the film, which recently made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival.

He will take part in discussions about not only that film, but also the Welles documentary “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” and his Keaton work, “The Great Buster.”

“Peter was here nine years ago, and we’re bringing him back for a variety of reasons,” said festival Director Jody Kielbasa.

Ben Mankiewicz, longtime Turner Classic Movies host and film expert, will join Bogdanovich for “The Other Side of the Wind” and “The Great Buster,” in addition to leading his own discussions on “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader, will appear as part of a previously announced program unveiling the documentary “Charlottesville.” The event is part of an ongoing partnership with the UVa Center for Politics.

Kielbasa said the festival’s signature events include films that already are getting Oscar buzz.

This year’s Opening Night Film on Nov. 1 is Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. Based on a real-life friendship on 1962, the film follows a black pianist who hires a white bouncer to drive him on a concert tour through the South; they must seek out lodgings at facilities listed in the Green Book as friendly to African-American travelers.

“Roma” is the Centerpiece Film, to be screened Nov. 3. Kielbasa called it director Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece; it’s Cuaron’s most personal work to date, paying tribute to his domestic-worker mother. Protagonist Cleo, played by acting newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, takes care of an upper-crust family in Mexico City in the 1970s, at a time of personal and political turmoil.

The Closing Night Film, on Nov. 4, is Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner,” which dives into Gary Hart’s scandal-derailed 1988 presidential bid. Hugh Jackman stars as a candidate who seemed to have it all before a groundbreaking examination of his personal life changed the way leaders’ personal conduct was evaluated in the public sphere.

“It could not be more topical right now,” Kielbasa said of the film. “It goes into moral judgment, character and the right of privacy, and how those can clash. It’s front and center in the national dialogue right now.”

A new collaboration will be in the spotlight this year. The Virginia Film Festival will screen three National Geographic documentaries—“Science Fair,” “Free Solo” and “Into the Okavango”—as a way to introduce viewers to a larger partnership in late February and early March in which National Geographic and UVa will join forces to present events at UVa with storytellers, educators and other special guests.

“These three films are just a way to kick that partnership off,” Kielbasa said.

This year’s Spotlight Films will include “1968: The Year That Changed America,” “Ben is Back,” “Birds of Passage,” “The Favourite,” “Shoplifters” and “Widows.”

Top international films, Virginia-made films and documentaries are scheduled, and continuing partnerships with the Miller Center and the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus for Audi Visual Conservation in Culpeper are featured. “Race in America,” a partnership with James Madison’s Montpelier, returns for its second year.

New screening venues this year will include Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and Common House.

Also new this year is the Festival Scholars Program, led by Harry Chotiner, which will offer UVa students an immersive six-day course filled with group discussions, mentoring and study along the themes of filmmaking, film criticism and the film industry.

Family Day will be back on Nov. 3 at UVa’s John and Betsy Casteen Arts Grounds, and the Late-Night Wrap Party for grownups is set for later that evening at Three Notch’d Brewing.

Starting Oct. 24, tickets also will be available at the festival’s downtown box office in the Violet Crown Charlottesville cinema lobby. For details and a complete schedule of offerings, visit virginiafilmfestival.org.

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