Turturro, Thomas added to Film Fest bill

Actor and director John Turturro is the latest addition to this year's Virginia Film Festival lineup. Known for his memorable on-screen turns in films like O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, Quiz Show, and Do the Right Thing, Turturro will be on hand to screen his third work from behind the camera, as the writer and director of Romance and Cigarettes. The event is scheduled for 6:30pm on Saturday, November 3 at the Paramount Theater, and will feature an on-stage interview with New York Magazine film critic David Edelstein.

The film features an all-star cast, including James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken, Mandy Moore, and Steve Buscemi, in a musical about how an extramarital affair affects a working class family in New York.

"John Turturro is one of the most talented and consistently adventurous actors in the film world today," says festival director Richard Herskowitz. "In a year where we are focusing so much on filmmakers, it is particularly appropriate he's coming here as a director."

Romance and Cigarettes is a labor of love long in the making for Turturro. After casting the film, Turturro had to wait two years for Gandolfini to extricate himself from his commitment to the hit HBO mobster series The Sopranos. Once the project was completed (in spite of Winslet twisting her ankle during a dance sequence), Turturro could not find an American distributor in time for its scheduled August 2005 release. Two years later, Turturro has decided to foot the cost of distributing the film himself. The Charlottesville screening will mark one of the first times the film has been seen stateside outside of New York or Los Angeles.

"This is a film that Turturro is so passionate about that he is foregoing traditional studio routes," says Herskowitz. "We are delighted to be part of the first phase of this effort."

The Festival will also screen Turturro's 1992 directorial debut Mac at 10:15am on Sunday, November 4 at the Regal Downtown.

Also being added to the Film Fest bill is 1992 UVA alum Sean Patrick Thomas. Famous for his roles in Save the Last Dance and the Barbershop franchise, Thomas stars alongside Danny Glover in John Sayles' Honeydripper. Thomas will appear with Sayles at Honeydripper's Paramount Theater showing on Thursday, November 1 at 7pm.

–Photo by Jurgen Fauth