Bening bags: 'Funny Business' brings Waters and Broderick to film fest

news-kielbasaFilm fest director Jody Kielbasa details this year's program.

When the Virginia Film Festival unveiled this year's line-up October 7, Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick and Cherry Jones were among the headliners, along with previously announced cult filmmaker John Waters.

By October 19, Bening had discovered a scheduling conflict and canceled her visit to Charlottesville to screen her new film, Mother and Child. That show will go on November 7 at the Paramount with director Rodrigo Garcia, Cherry Jones, who played Madam President in last season's 24, and UVA alum/producer/festival regular Julie Lynn.

New festival director Jody Kielbasa promises to look at the festival's "Funny Business" theme as more than just slapstick, and includes the funny business of money and politics as well during the November 5-8 event.

Matthew "Ferris Bueller" Broderick brings a new movie– Wonderful World– which will be shown on the last day of the festival, along with his 10-year-old Election.

Anniversaries are big this year. Another Bening film, American Beauty, also is 10 and its screenwriter, Alan Ball, who created Six Feet Under, will be here for Beauty and to talk about his popular HBO series, True Blood.

Another special guest, director Norman Jewison, will attend a 30th anniversary screening of ...And Justice for All. His 1966 film, The Russians are Coming!, is on the program, too.

And the classic political-funny business movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is 70 years old. Kielbasa wants to look at the legacy of Jimmy Stewart's Jefferson Smith character, and brings in a panel that include Washington Post writer Liza Mundy and CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Other movies on the anniversary roster to be shown this year: Buster Keaton's silent Sherlock, Jr. is 85, and will have musical accompaniment, Some Like It Hot is 50, Police Academy (directed by Charlottesville resident Hugh Wilson) is 25, Sex Lies and Videotape is 20, with no word whether former resident Steven Soderbergh will be here. Do the Right Thing also has a 20th anniversary, and it's been 15 years since Pulp Fiction changed movie making as we'd known it.

John Waters' events– a November 6 talk at Culbreth and screenings of Hairspray and Pink Flamingos at Newcomb Hall– are free, courtesy of the Arts Assembly.

Virginia-made films grab prime spots on the festival schedule, like the opening night screening of the documentary Marching Band, which looks at the 2008 election through the eyes of the marching bands of UVA and Virginia State University.

Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance hits the Virginia-made and anniversary themes. Produced by WHTJ/PBS and the Center for Politics, the documentary comes 50 years after state-sanctioned segregation closed schools in Charlottesville. Its November 7 screening is followed by a panel discussion with Larry Sabato and former Governor Doug Wilder.

Festival director Kielbasa reaches out to residents who've never been to a film festival event by moving the opening night gala to John Paul Jones arena, which obviously accommodates more people than the University Art Museum, especially since its renovation has closed most of its galleries to partying. Tickets to the gala are $75.

And the Saturday night wrap party opens to the public for the first time. Tickets are $45 and it will be at the X-Lounge.

The festival program is online at, and tickets are on sale now.

Updated October 9.
Updated October 20.

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