CHARLOTTESVILLE -- More than 100 movies and 40 college professors are to be featured in this fall's Virginia Festival of American Film.

"We've expanded the number of films, the number of academic discussions and the number of seats available at screenings this year," said festival director Bob Gazzale.

Focusing on "Music in the Movies," the festival begins Oct. 24 and ends Oct. 28, making the third annual festival a day longer than the first two.

Highlights include an opening-night screening of "The Thief of Bagdad," the 1924 silent classic written and produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks. The Virginia Symphony is to perform Mortimer Wilson's original score in the Charlottesville Performing Arts Center.

Other films to be shown are a Laurel and Hardy short, a Buster Keaton film, Albert Maysles' "Gimme Shelter" about the Rolling Stones, and producer Walter Shenson's "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help," starring the Beatles. Maysles and Shenson are to introduce their films and answer questions following the screenings.

Richard Sherman, who wrote the music for "Mary Poppins," "The Jungle Book" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," is to perform some of his compositions before a screening of "Mary Poppins" in Newcomb Hall Theater at the University of Virginia.

The festival also will premier a major film at University Theater, Gazzale said.

"I can't release the name of the picture yet, but the producer and director will both be at the showing, which is an East Coast studio premiere," he said.

This year's festival is to cost about $450,000, with $150,000 budgeted from state funds.

Gazzale said his office has received oral attendance commitments from well-known film industry figures, but no stars have final plans to attend.

The emphasis is not on star names, but on students, scholars and the public interaction with the film industry, Gazzale said.

"There are 500 film festivals worldwide, and ours is the only one hosted by a major university, so we have a much more academic slant," Gazzale said.

"The festival will provide everyone in the area a chance to talk with filmmakers, composers and scholars about an incredibly influential form of entertainment," he said.