UVA Alums Showcased at the Virginia Film Festival
Over the years, the Virginia Film Festival has earned a spot among the nation’s premiere regional festivals, thanks in large part to a rich and diverse program of over 200 films and an impressive roster of industry guests from around the world. Yet as wide a geographic range as the VFF covers, it always keeps an eye on its UVA roots by highlighting a roster of talented alums each and every year. The 2017 Festival was certainly no exception as that roster was led by Oscar-winning Mark Johnson (College ‘71), chair of the VFF Advisory Board and producer of the opening night film Downsizing, directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matt Damon. Author Margot Lee Shetterly (Commerce ‘91) was on hand to present the smash hit film adaptation of her bestselling book Hidden Figures. Writer and director Colette Burson (College ‘88) showed off her Virginia-themed and Virginia-made feature Permanent, starring Rainn Wilson and Patricia Arquette.
On the documentary side, producer John McAllister (College ‘98) brought his debut film Double Dummy, a look inside the fascinating world of competitive bridge. Executive producer Steve Robillard (College ‘07) led a discussion of an episode of the popular Netflix series The Confession Tapes, about a notorious 1984 Washington, D.C. murder case in which eight teens were unjustly convicted, and six remain in prison to this day, based on a connection to a “gang” that never existed. Filmmaker Owsley Brown’s (College ‘93) Serenade for Haiti took audiences inside the powerful story of Haiti’s Sainte Trinité Music School community, where in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, traumatized faculty and students find solace through the power of classical music.
Former VFF intern Han West (College ‘07) pulled double duty for the Film Festival this year as an Adrenaline Film Project mentor, then returning for the Festival weekend as producer of his film Oh Lucy!. GMU professor Giovanna Chesler (College ‘96) returned to the Festival to showcase the work of her George Mason University filmmaking students in Best of Film at Mason. Director Kevin Elliott (Engineering ‘96) and producer Amanda Upson (College ‘95)) returned to present their short film Magnum Opus, and director Nora Stone (College ‘07) showed her short film Mommy Moments.