Virginia Film Festival Announces 2023 Lineup 

By Trish Foxwell  

Entering its 36th year and scheduled for October 25-29, one of the nation’s most prestigious movie showcases, the Virginia Film Festival, associated with the University of Virginia, is showcasing a variety of films many of which are serious Oscar contenders.  

The festival’s first evening, launched with a gala reception and film screening, features “Maestro,” starring Georgetown University alum, Bradley Cooper, who also directed, and co-wrote the screenplay with Josh Singer, a producer on the film. The work delves deeply into the life of famed conductor Leonard Bernstein and his relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre, portrayed by Carey Mulligan. It also explores Bernstein’s stellar career as conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Many film critics consider this a “Best Picture” frontrunner. The Bernstein family was seriously involved with the project from its inception. At the Venice Film Festival, the film received a standing ovation.  

As a centerpiece film, the festival presents “The Holdovers,” Saturday evening. Directed by Andrew Payne and featuring Paul Giamatti as a crusty New England prep school teacher who forms a bond with a wayward student. The work also looks to be an Oscar contender. Mark Johnson, a University of Virginia alum, is the VAFF Board Chair of the festival and is a producer on the film. Johnson, whose producing credits include such hits as “Rain Man,” which won Best Picture in 1989, “The Natural,” and “Bugsy,” will be on hand for a post-screening discussion and Q&A.   

“The Holdovers” will be a centerpiece of the festival. IMDb photo.

Other anticipated films include: “May December,” starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore,” “American Fiction,” “Rustin,” and “War Pony” from actress Riley Keogh in her directorial debut. Keogh is scheduled for a post-screening discussion as well.  

“May December,” starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, is a much anticipated film in the festial.

Another highlight of the festival will be an appearance of Ava Du Vernay, director, producer and writer for the films “Selma,” and “When they See Us.” She’ll present ‘Origin,” and receive the VAFF Visionary Award. Du Vernay was the first African-American woman to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival.  

A sneak peak of HBO’s popular series, “The Gilded Age – Season 2” will be shown with a discussion by Michael Syler, executive producer, followed by production designer Bob Shaw.   

On the festival’s final day, a documentary on author William Faulkner, entitled “The Past is Never Dead,” starring Eric Roberts as Faulkner will be presented at the Paramount Theater. Filmed entirely in Oxford, Mississippi and at Rowan Oak, the Faulkner home, the film focuses on the Nobel Laureate’s writings and his acclaimed works. Faulkner, was the first “Writer-In-residence” at the University of Virginia.  

On the festival’s final day, Eric Roberts stars as Faulkner in “The Past is Never Dead.” IMDb photo.


For a complete list of films and screenings go to 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *