Inaugural Middleburg Film Festival to premiere Thursday

October 21, 2013

The inaugural Middleburg Film Festival, a four-day event that will offer more than 20 narrative and documentary films, is expected to draw thousands of moviegoers, filmmakers, actors and industry insiders to the town this week.

The festival — organized by Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and owner of the recently opened Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg — will run Thursday through next Sunday and include screenings, parties, panel discussions, workshops and the opportunity for movie lovers to converse one-on-one with industry experts, event organizers said.

The festival events will be at several locations in the Middleburg area, including the National Sporting Library, the Hill School, the Middleburg Community Center, Boxwood Winery and the Salamander Resort, which is the festival’s headquarters.

Among the most highly anticipated guests are Lee Daniels, director of “The Butler”; Bruce Dern, who stars in “Nebraska”; and Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, who produced “Nebraska” and the popular 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Event officials announced the full slate of films this month. The festival will open with “Nebraska,” Alexander Payne’s story of an aging father, played by Dern, and his adult son, played by Will Forte, who travel to Nebraska to claim a nonexistent $1 million sweepstakes prize. The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Dern won the best actor award for his performance. “Nebraska” is due in theaters Nov. 22.

The festival’s centerpiece selection is Justin Chadwick’s “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” based on former South African president Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. The film had a well-
received world premiere at last month’s 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and will begin a limited U.S. theatrical release Nov. 29.

The lineup also includes “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a critically acclaimed movie about longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents over more than three decades. Its theatrical release was in August.

An “Italian Film Sidebar” will highlight films intended to commemorate Italian culture, including Giuseppe Tornatore’s “The Best Offer,” Stefano Sardo’s “Slow Food Story,” Giancarlo Giannini’s “The Gambler Who Wouldn’t Die” and a restoration of Roberto Rossellini’s 1954 “Journey to Italy,” presented in partnership with the Embassy of Italy.

“Our goal was to curate an engaging slate of films, drawing from the U.S. and abroad and across all genres, that will satisfy causal moviegoers and avid film lovers alike,” Susan Koch, executive director of the festival, said in a statement. The event’s hosts “are looking forward to a glorious weekend of film, music and conversation,” she said.

Tickets are still available to many of the festival’s screenings. The opening night and centerpiece events have sold out, organizers said. Ticketing and festival information and screening times are at www.middleburgfilm.org.

Caitlin Gibson covers Loudoun County for The Washington Post.
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