Charlottesville Breaking News

Oliver Stone, Larry Flynt headline Film Fest

A month before the theaters darken for the 24th Virginia Film Festival, director Jody Kielbasa has revealed the special guests so attendees can nab tickets as soon as they go on sale October 7.

And surely one of the sellouts will be legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone, here for a 20th anniversary screening of JFK, which stars Sissy Spacek. She's also on the festival program– for a screening of Badlands, with husband Jack Fisk, whom she met during its filming.

Another Stone connection is Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who will be here for a discussion after the Stone-produced movie, The People vs. Larry Flynt, brought to you by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Hot up-and-comer Mia Wasikowska, who starred in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre, will be here for her new film, Albert Nobbs, with festival stalwarts Rodrigo Garcia and Julie Lynn.

Other highlights from the more than 100 films in this year's November 3-6 festival are opening night preview of The Descendants with George Clooney– "tremendous Oscar buzz" and this year's Black Swan, according to Kielbasa; and new movies from disturbing-cineastes David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method) and Lars von Trier (Melancholia).

That actress from The Hangover, Rachael Harris, will be here for her new movie, Natural Selection....

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'The wind': Donald Trump lifts spirits at winery

The hottest ticket in Virginia last week was the grand opening of Trump Vineyard Estates, with scores of public officials among 500 wine-happy citizens clamoring for a peek at the relaunched vineyard– as well as a peek at the real estate mogul turned reality television star known as The Donald.

Despite proximity of fewer than two hours south of Manhattan via private helicopter, a close advisor asserts that the October 4 event marked the first time The Donald himself set foot on the southeast-of-Charlottesville property, which Trump bought earlier this year after banks seized the place from Patricia Kluge.

"Donald has become the wind beneath my wings," a smiling Kluge told the crowd. "I feel that I gave birth to this place, and there is nothing more pleasing than to know that it's in the hands of someone I've known for 30 years."

"I'm going to put a lot of people to work," said Trump, who has hired Kluge and her husband, William Moses.

"Patricia did a amazing job," Trump said as he began explaining why he'll succeed where Kluge went bankrupt. "I don't have a mortgage."

Public records show that Trump paid $8.55 million for 871 acres including the pavilion, the Farm Shop on Blenheim Road, and a former carriage museum– a complex that Trump vows to make a thriving center for wines and weddings.

But questions remain about the elusive final piece of his puzzle: ...

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Cruel odds: 50/50 finds humor in cancer

Young people should not get sick and die. Most of us do eventually, but how sad it is to learn in your 20s that you have a dangerous cancer and your chances of survival are 50/50. How crueler still if the news is delivered by a doctor who seems almost deliberately sadistic. Start with those odds. They may indeed be accurate, but would it kill the son of a bitch to make them 60/40?

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a writer for public radio in Seattle, which makes him almost a poster boy for someone who should grow old and wise. He has a nagging back pain. The oncologist says it is a rare form of cancer of the spine. 50/50 was written by Will Reiser, who himself was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. Seth Rogen, who plays Adam's best friend, Kyle, is a close friend of Reiser in real life, and the movie is based on what happened in their friendship after the diagnosis.

After surgery and treatment, Reiser is currently in the sixth year of remission, and cheerfully observes, "Remission apparently lasts forever ... or until you die." In an interview by Jen Chaney with the two of them in The Washington Post, they joke endlessly, which is perhaps inevitable between a comedy writer and a comic actor, and although 50/50 is structured with the efficiency of a sitcom, there's an undercurrent of truth and real feeling. Full review.

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'One tip': Harringtons launch 'Next Girl' campaign

Approaching the second anniversary of their daughter's disappearance, the parents of murdered student Morgan Dana Harrington are unveiling a new campaign aiming to raise awareness about the vulnerability of young women to predators and to offer support to other victims' families.

Dubbed, the multi-media campaign includes not only that website but also a Facebook page, and it launches with a series of bold online ads placed on media websites from Blacksburg to Northern Virginia aimed at sparking new leads in a case that appears to be running cold.

"Spit out Morgan Dana Harrington's killer," says one of the animated ads, featuring an airline "barf bag" bearing the composite image of a bearded black man linked by DNA to a 2005 rape in Fairfax and to Morgan's case.

Another features a photo of Morgan with the stark words: "20 years old. 5'5" tall. 6 feet under." And a third ad features images of a smiling Morgan followed by the grim composite sketch. "She was the girl next door," it reads. "Is this the guy next door?"

The ads are intended to be harsh, says Morgan's mother, Gil Harrington.

"Something ugly happened here, and I'm not going to sugar-coat it for him," she says, referring to the man she believes is responsible for killing her daughter. "From the beginning, I've tried to use clear...

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Independent's day: Clerkship-seeking Melampy runs-- again

Despite being resoundingly whupped in the Democratic primary, Pam Melampy declared her candidacy as an independent for Charlottesville clerk of court on September 27.

"We're not happy she's doing that," says Democratic co-chair Jim Nix. "She signed a document saying she would support the Democratic nominee."

Melampy contends that her over 20 years of experience in the court system make her the best choice for the $112K-a-year job, and if elected, she promises she'll donate 10 percent of her salary to the local Boys and Girls Club, SPCA, and Hospice House of the Piedmont.

"I want to take a pay cut," says Melampy. "You don't hear many people saying that."

Independent City Council candidates Scott Bandy and Andrew Williams joined Melampy as she entered the November 8 race for the second time.

Her first time as one of three Democratic candidates in the August 20 primary running against incumbent Paul Garrett and public defender Llezelle Dugger left Melampy feeling duped, she says. The Democratic Committee initially was "gung ho" about her candidacy until she had signed a check for $250 to the party and the declaration that she would only support the Democratic nominees, according to Melampy.

The support she thought she had among Dems and local lawyers evaporated when...

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