The Explorer: Film Fest Picks for the Adventurous

Posted on November 6, 2013 by


movie explorerIf you fancy yourself a fearless film-goer, have an I’ll-see-anything-once attitude, or just want get the perfect little taste of what the VFF has to offer, fill your canteen with soda and stock up on your popcorn rations, because you are the Movie Explorer. And, please, allow us to introduce ourselves: we are your Film Festival Sherpas.

From award-winning films about the notions of sanity to documentaries about historical figures to local stories by local directors, our list has it all. Come on, would we ever lead you astray?


Thursday, November 7, 7 PM at The Paramount Theater

Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a hardscrabble old man living in Montana who escapes repeatedly from his house, trying to walk to Nebraska to collect a sweepstakes prize he thinks he has won. Frustrated by his mounting dementia, his family debates putting him into a nursing home – until his son David (Will Forte) finally offers to take his father to Nebraska by car, fully understanding the futility. En route, an accident leads the pair to take a detour and spend time in the small Nebraska town where Woody was born.

Post-film discussion with actor Will Forte and producer Ron Yerxa.


Saturday, November 9, 9 PM at The Paramount Theater

Pregnant brides, Virgin Madonnas, and the occasional giant banana: all part of arm wrestling to raise money for charity. Started in Charlottesville, VA, The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLAW), is spreading coast to coast, with sister branches in Austin, Brooklyn, New Orleans, DC, and even São Paulo, Brazil. In this modern vaudeville, CLAW skirts the edges of entertainment, delving into social critique of contemporary women’s empowerment. Beyond the bustiers and burqas, is it the fourth wave of feminism or the latest form of burlesque?

Post-film discussion with directors Billy Hunt and Brian Wimer.

Faux Paws

Sunday, November 10, 5 PM at The Paramount Theater

Gay werewolves Brian and Doug escape from a lycanthrope reservation to seek freedom in Maine, the only state with a sanctioned tolerance of werewolves. Their journey takes them on a road trip, complete with an overnight full moon stop at Brian’s family home. While Brian wrestles with “changing” in front of his family, his brother-in-law conspires with bounty hunters and national police forces giving chase. Will Brian and Doug make it to Maine? If they do, what should they wear? Will they ever be anything more than faux paws? Hide your meat and cheese. Werewolvin’ ain’t what it used to be.

Post-film discussion with director Doug Bari, producer Judy Bari, and actor Brian Wimer

Kennedy Half Century

Saturday, November 9, 5:30 PM at The Culbreth Theater

November 22, 1963 was so powerful a moment, that in the fifty years since John F. Kennedy’s assassination, every U.S. President used Kennedy’s words and actions to craft their own political image. Why does Kennedy’s influence persist? What are the effects? Join renowned U.Va. Professor Larry J. Sabato in a provocative new look at the compelling story of how Kennedy’s life, politics, administration and death have influenced the general public, the media, and each of the nine U.S. presidents who followed Kennedy over the last fifty years.

Post-film discussion with Larry Sabato (U.Va.).
Supported by the Center for Politics.

Adrenaline Film Project

Saturday, November 9, 9 PM at The Culbreth Theater

The 10th anniversary of the Adrenaline Film Project has finally arrived! Adrenaline is a competition where teams write, shoot, and edit a film – all in 72 hours! Adrenaline founder Jeff Wadlow (writer and director of Kick-Ass 2) is back as lead mentor this year, joined by two returning mentors: local director Derek Sieg and acting coach Leigh Kilton-Smith. The films will feature local actors from UVA and the Charlottesville community. At the final screening, the films (and actors!) will have a chance to win awards and prizes.


Scary Movies and Psychological Thrillers 

It is our personal experience that Explorers are also usually adrenaline junkies. Sorry, guys, we aren’t licensed sky diving instructors, but we are in the know about all of the scary movies and psychological thrillers showing this year at the VFF. Whether you find yourself being attacked by thousands of birds or trapped in the maddening white expanse of Canadian winter, these films are sure to make your heart race and your breath shallow.

The Birds

Friday, November 8, 7:30 PM at The Paramount Theater

The 50th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is a celebration of the milestone in cinematic special effects. In her debut film, Tippi Hedren plays socialite Melanie Daniels on vacation in Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco. She strikes up a flirtation with Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), which quickly turns from salacious glances into a fight for their own survival, when tens of thousands of birds begin violently attacking humans. One of the most famous disaster films in history, The Birds both launched and complicated Hedren’s career, due to her tumultuous relationship with Hitchcock.

Post-film discussion with actress Tippi Hedren.

House of Good and Evil

Saturday, November 9, 9:30 PM at The Regal Downtown Mall—Theater 4

After a devastating miscarriage, Chris and Maggie escape suffocating city life to live in a secluded farmhouse deep in the woods. Quickly it’s revealed to them that the house contains more than meets the eye, and the neighbors have an odd sense of hospitality. When Chris leaves for a couple of days, Maggie begins to experience strange events that challenge her beliefs about love, grief, and normalcy. The limits of dedication and sanity are challenged in this mind-bending countryside horror filmed locally in Floyd, Virginia.

Blue Ruin

Sunday, November 10, 7:30 PM at The Culbreth Theater

Virginia native Jeremy Saulnier’s sophomore feature is a classic American revenge story that recently won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Directors’ Fortnight. The film follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

Post-film discussion with actor Macon Blair.

A Single Shot

Saturday, November 9, 9 PM at The Newcomb Hall Theater

A single shot is the turning point of John Moon’s life – from simple to despairing, demanding immediate redemption. Moon (Sam Rockwell), while stalking a deer out of season, accidentally shoots and kills a beautiful teenage girl. As he tries to dispose of her body in a cave, he stumbles upon a hefty sum of money. What unfolds is a tense and thrilling adventure between the hunter and the hardened backwater criminals out for his blood. John Moon will need to outsmart those hunting him down to save himself and his family.

Post-film discussion with David M. Rosenthal and writer Matthew F. Jones.


Saturday, November 9, 6:30 PM at The Regal Downtown Mall—Theater 2

On a drunken night, Bruce Landry (Thomas Haden Church) runs over a man with a tiny yellow snowplow. After burying the body, he wakes up deep in the snow-covered forest unaware of where he is. The snowy winter of Northern Quebec blankets the film in a muted, expansive whiteness and is the austere setting of this darkly entertaining character study. Guilt, addiction, loss, and isolation percolate from Bruce’s imprisonment in the forest and his quest for survival, redemption and sanity.