Animal House star leads film fest lineup

Peter Riegert, right, will be here to comment on his 1983 American-in-Scotland role in Local Hero.

The Virginia Film Festival announced much of its "Aliens!"-themed program today for the October 30-November 2 film-a-thon, and actor Peter Riegert will be here for a 25th-anniversary screening of Local Hero. Despite a long career as a working actor, Riegert is still perhaps best known for his roles as Delta house brother Boone the 1978 classic, Animal House, and his performance in the 1983 cult classic, Local Hero.

On a more serious note, he'll also be on hand for a screening of The Response, a new film about the legal proceedings of a Guantanamo detainee in which he co-stars, and Slate writer Dahlia Lithwick will lead a panel discussion.

As usual when there are few stars to announce, festival director Richard Herskowitz stresses that it's all about the filmmakers. Guillermo Arriaga, screenwriter for Amores Perros and Babel, will present his directorial debut, The Burning Plain, starring Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger.

Local celebs will be onscreen, if not in the flesh– although never discount the possibility of special guest appearances. Sissy Spacek plays the mother of troubled son Dave Matthews in Lake City, a Southern gothic tale filmed in Richmond, produced by film-fest board member and UVA grad Mark Johnson and directed by fellow UVA alum Perry Moore.

Another one-time Wahoo, producer Glenn Williamson, offers up the regional premiere of Sundance fave Sunshine Cleaning with Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin.

In what will be Herskowitz's 15th and last festival before he heads west to join his wife Jill Hartz, former director of the University Art Museum and now head of the University of Oregon's art museum in Eugene, he programs a "two-pronged approach" to the Aliens-exclamation-point theme, he says, "with one axis covering the extraterrestrial visitor, and another looking at issues related to the 'illegal immigrant.'"

With a nod to the former, and as a tribute to the recently late UVA alumnus and special effects whiz Stan Winston, Aliens is on the program, of course, along with space spoof Galaxy Quest. Underground filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar take over McCormick Observatory to show Death Quest of the Ju-Ju Cults, Blips, and Ascension of the Demonoids.

On the illegal immigrant side, Gregory Nava, director of El Norte, hosts another 25th-anniversary screening of that Oscar-nominated film. Iranian-French video and performance artist Ghazel canceled her visit here when she ran into some visa problems with U.S. immigration– but will appear via Skype.

1 comment

I never really understood his Animal House character. He was cuckolded by his pot-smoking English prof, right? And he never rode a chopper up the front steps of the house. I mean, how unfrattish can you be, dude?