Director-less Film Fest picks theme, dates

"Funny Business" will be the theme of the 22nd Virginia Film Festival, which will run November 5-8. The festival has been without a leader since Richard Herskowitz left last November. UVA expects to have his successor on board by early summer, according to a release.


"Funny Business," eh? Another missed opportunity.

Rather than present an arbitrary slate of comedies, the festival folk might have focused on the double meaning of their theme and picked films that explore the dark side of human avarice and greed. In sum, they could focus on films dealing with corrupt businesspeople and slopebrowed, inbred MBAs, of which we see there are no shortage in the current economic fiasco.

That would lend some traction to the theme of "funny business."

Michale Douglas hasn't had a hit in years. I suspect he would happily toot into Charlottesville and do a scene-by-scene workshop on "Wall Street." Jane Fonda and Kris Kristofferson could rap about "Rollover" and sing a duet on "Me and Bobby McGee" as counterpoint to this notion of button-down corporate America.

And for real laffs at the expense of corporate pr!cks and wee MBAs, there's always that immortal classic "Trading Places."

We also need an older classic. I submit "My Man Godfrey."

Lecture opportunities abound. Some of the dead-wood faculty at UVA's business school could wander over from their palacial surroundings and explain why every last one of them failed to detect early signs of an impending economic disaster. Now THAT'S funny. In a tragic, buffoonish sort of way. But hey, that's our theme this year..."funny business."

The film festival has been skidding downhill for a decade. Maybe this is a factor of funding (didn't patricia Kluge used to pump money into this event), or maybe it's a factor of programming, but the themes seem less accessible with each passing year. That probably affects attendance in a negative way.

It seems incredible that a theme like "Funny Business" would overlook the worst economic fiasco facing the United States in three generations.