Middleburg Film Festival 2019

Posted on October 22, 2019 at 7:47 am

After just seven years, the Middleburg Film Festival has become a major cultural event, showcasing not-yet-released films likely to be on a lot of year-end ten-best lists, presented by filmmakers, all in one of the state’s most beautiful settings out in the countryside about 30 miles from Washington D.C. For me, the highlight every year is an event unique to Middleburg, a tribute to a film composer. Festival founder and visionary Sheila Johnson originally studied to be a concert violinist, and she says that without music, movies have no soul. She wants audiences to understand that film scores are not about what you hum as you leave the theater; the music helps to tell the story and reveal the characters. It helps you feel the feelings the people who made the movie wanted you to feel. The festival always includes a tribute featuring a full orchestra performing the composer’s work.

This year’s awardee was Terence Blanchard, who has composed the smoky, jazz-influenced scores for films including Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” “Clockers,” “BlackKklansman,” “Inside Man,” and “25th Hour” as well as Lee’s documentary that was very personal for Blanchard, who is from New Orleans, the Katrina documentary “When the Levees Broke.”

Blanchard also brought his own ensemble, the E Collective. He spoke about his career, including performing with Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey, about going to music camp with Wynton and Branford Marsalis when they were children, about how he works with different directors, and about his long friendship with director Kasi Lemmons, from “Eve’s Bayou” to her newest film, “Harriet,” starring Cynthia Erivo, which was also featured at the festival. Blanchard and Lemmons have collaborated on an opera based on Charles Blow’s memoir, called “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”

Another event I look forward to every year is the “Talk Back to the Critics” panel, when audience members get to ask us about movies and let us know when they disagree with our reviews. Sharing the stage with my friends Travis Hobson, Tim Gordon, Susan Wloszczyna, and Jason Fraley in the sunny courtyard of the Old Ox Brewery

“Harriet” was one of the highlights of the festival, the stirring story of Harriet Tubman, who escaped enslavement by running from Maryland to Pennsylvania without a map — and could not have read one if one existed. She then returned repeatedly to rescue more than 70 other enslaved persons, including elderly and an infant and then, during the Civil War, became the first — and still one of the very few — women to lead U.S. military forces in batter. Erivo’s performance is powerful and moving, and the superb cast includes “Hamilton’s” Leslie Odom, Jr., Jonelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn.

Writer/director Kasi Lemmons and producer Debra Debra Martin Chase at the Q&A

Probably the most anticipated film at the festival was saved for the last spot, which, as Festival director Susan Koch, had gone to the films later selected for Best Picture Oscars the previous two years. This time it was Martin Scorsese’s elegiac three and a half hour epic “The Irishman,” starring Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa and Robert De Niro as the title character, once Hoffa’s most trusted colleague, who later confessed to murdering him. We see the characters age over 40 years, with the help of computer imaging.

Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in a searing look at a deteriorating relationship. Each appeared in another high profile film in the festival, Johansson in “Jo Jo Rabbit,” about an Austrian boy in the last months of WWII — with writer/director Taika Waititi playing the child’s imagined version of Hitler, and Driver as the real-life investigator who wrote the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the torture of witnesses detained by the CIA.

Ira Sachs’ “Frankie” is the sensitively told story of a day in the life of an actress (Isabelle Huppert) vacationing with her family in Portugal. “Waves” is a poetic look at a family with two teenagers who have to deal with the aftermath of tragedy. My favorite, and I suspect the favorite of many others, too, was Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Put it on your calendar to take the family to see for Thanksgiving. And maybe put Middleburg on your calendar for next year as well.

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A Virtual Festival for Librarians, Book Nerds, and Fans of Graphic Novels, SF, and Fantasy

Posted on October 21, 2019 at 11:08 am

Copyright Library of Congress 2019

Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our third annual LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer a day-long celebration of fandom-beloved stories and characters, featuring the creators behind mind-bending speculative fiction, innovative comics, and fan-favorite graphic novels. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.

Plus, network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. Whether you’re a public or school librarian, an educator of teens and young adults, or a superfan of graphic novels and sf/fantasy, don’t miss this chance to meet and interact with some of your favorite stars across these genres.

LibraryCon Live! is a free, completely virtual conference—no traveling and no cost!

Register now! We look forward to seeing you on November 6th. Can’t make the live date? No problem! All the sessions will be archived, and the virtual environment will be accessible for three months.


11:00 AM – 11:30 AM | Opening Keynote

Sam Maggs and Delilah Dawson in Conversation: Two comics writers discuss crafting narratives and characters for Marvel Action, writing for middle grade and YA readers, and being on both sides of the “fangirl” experience. Sam Maggs is the author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy and Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History. She is also currently writing a middle-grade “Marvel Action: Captain Marvel” series for IDW. Delilah Dawson, a NYT bestselling author, writes the “Marvel Action: Spider Man” series and is currently penning a YA series for IDW called “Star Pig.”

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM | Panel 1 | Fantastic World-Building

Mystical Viking warriors. China in 484 A.D. A ruthless galactic empire. A modern Gothic nightmarescape. A secret society of black magicians. While wildly different, each of the works highlighted by the authors and artists on this panel share a common trait: exemplary world-building. Creators discuss how they construct intricate and believable fantastic worlds.

Natasha Alterici, Heathen, Vol. 2 (Diamond)
Hannah Templer, Cosmoknights; GLOW vs. the Star Primas (Top Shelf/IDW)
Brandon Thomas, Excellence, Vol. 1 (Image)
Sherry Thomas, The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan (Lee & Low)

12:15 PM – 12:30 PM | Break

12:30 PM – 1:00 PM | Lunch Keynote

Henry Barajas, La Voz de M.A.Y.O Tata Rambo (Image)

In La Voz de M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo, Henry Barajas tells the true story of how his grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue (a.k.a. Tata Rambo), co-founded the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization, which successfully lobbied the Tucson City Council to improve living and working conditions for members of the Pascua Yaqui and led to federal recognition of the Yaqui tribe.

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM | Panel 2 | Stories That Engage Young Readers (and Beyond)

Relatable heroes, adventure-filled journeys, and laugh-out-loud truisms define these narratives for middle grade and teen readers. In this panel, authors and artists will discuss how they craft the highly engaging stories that young readers crave.

Drew Brockington, “CatStronauts” series; Hangry (Little, Brown)
Will Henry, Snug Harbor Stories: A Wallace the Brave Collection (Andrews McMeel)
Lucy Knisley, Stepping Stones (RHCB)
Sarah Kuhn, Shadow of the Batgirl (DC)
Christine Taylor-Butler, The Lost Tribe: Trials (Move)
Jen Wang, Stargazing (Macmillan)

1:45 PM – 2:15 PM | Fast Learning Session 1: How the Arlington Public Library Does Their ComicCon Program

Thinking about hosting a ComicCon-style event at your library? Hear Tamera Miller, Program Specialist at the Arlington Public Library (TX), discuss her library’s highly successful model, and learn how to plan, market, and run your own Con.

2:15 PM – 2:45 PM | Fast Learning Session 2: Comics Nerd Expert Picks

Nicholas Allen, comics writer and co-founder of Rexco Comics, will talk about some of the must-have, under-the-radar new and forthcoming comics titles librarians need to know about, including his favorite web comics.

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM | Break

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM | Panel 3 | Portrait of the Artists

Though their styles and techniques vary greatly, the artists on this panel share a commitment to excellence in visual storytelling. This panel will offer a behind-the-scenes deep dive into their artistic processes.

Erin Nations, Gumballs (Top Shelf/IDW)
Becky Cloonan, Reaver; By Chance or By Providence (Image)
Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key series; Tales from the Darkside (IDW)
Koren Shadmi, The Twilight Man: Rod Sterling and the Birth of Television (Humanoids)

3:45 PM – 4:15 PM | Closing Keynote

James Tynion IV, Something Is Killing the Children (BOOM! Studios)

Best known for his work on the “Batman” series with DC Comics, GLAAD Award-winning writer James Tynion IV now delves into horror with a brand-new limited series, Something Is Killing the Children, about “staring into the abyss to find your worst fears staring back.”

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Middleburg Film Festival 2019

Posted on October 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm

The Middleburg Film Festival has surpassed itself again with a stunning line-up that includes some of the fall and winter season’s most anticipated and awards-likely films, including Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama “The Irishman” with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Also on the schedule: Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet,” Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” based on the acclaimed novel, and Adam Driver in “The Report,” based on the true and very timely story of the Congressional investigation into torture of US prisoners.

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Nostalgia Con: MTV’s Original VJs and a Goonies Reunion!

Posted on August 27, 2019 at 10:15 pm

Go back to the 80’s and earlier at Nostalgia Con, which will take place in Anaheim Sept 28-29 featuring panels and celebrities.

Here’s what they have to say about the plans:

In the spirit of great Con experiences, NostalgiaCon will also unite 80s pop culture fans with their beloved celebs through throwback panels, Q&As, and a major celebrity pavilion for professional photo opps and autograph sessions. Panels include film and TV reunions, signature Talks with the Legends, and topics ranging from the rise of sneaker culture and much more.

All the panels and sessions will take place daily on Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m and Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m..

In the spirit of great Con experiences, NostalgiaCon will also unite 80s pop culture fans with their beloved celebs through throwback panels, Q&As, and a major celebrity pavilion for professional photo ops and autograph sessions. Panels include film and TV reunions, signature Talks with the Legends, and topics ranging from the rise of sneaker culture and much more.

All the panels and sessions will take place daily on Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m and Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m..

Saturday, September 28

Musings and Crazy Remembrances from the Original MTV VJs

In the annals of ‘80s pop culture, few individuals can say they impacted an ENTIRE music generation as much as the original MTV VJs – and NostalgiaCon is proud to bring you three of them – Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, and Alan Hunter. This is the first time they have EVER appeared at a convention together and oh, have they got stories to tell!

For the Love of Boomboxes: A Retrospective Look at Their Impact in Hip Hop Culture and How to Collect Them

Boomboxes not only helped birth today’s Hip Hop culture, they were also the urban fireplaces for millions of kids who played, danced and made friends with them outdoor from L.A. to New York and many parts in between. In this session, you’ll hear about the impact of these metallic machines, how they evolved and why their footprints are all over today’s Hip Hop culture. “Breakin’” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” star Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers, who gained worldwide fame for creating the liquid animation style of dance, is moderating.

Of Time Travel and Taxis: A Sit-down with Christopher Lloyd

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of “Back to the Future II”, NostalgiaCon is proud to present an in-depth sit-down with all-time ‘80s fan favorite Christopher Lloyd. Join us as we discuss BTTF as well as several of his most iconic role, including Judge Doom in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and Reverend Jim Ignatowski on TV’s “Taxi.”

Yo, Yo, Yo: The B-Boys Are in the House!

Breakdancing became such an instant and sustained hit in the ‘80s that it spawned numerous movies, TV shows and fashion trends – some of which continue today. In this session, two of the world’s top hip hop dance innovators, including Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers of “Breakin” team up to share the stories behind their enigmatic dances.

They Came and They Conquered: A Fun Retrospective on the Second British Invasion

We might be bias but the Second British Invasion was definitely larger and more over the top with music that spanned EVERY genre and fashion trends that weren’t left behind. New Wave music legend Martin Frye of ABC, Martha Davis of The Motels, and Monie Love join us for a fun and no holds barred look at the last great British Invasion.

‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Reunion with Loni Anderson and Howard Hessman

If may not have been MTV, but when it came to minting music stars for pop culture, the scrappy sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” was notorious for finding some great ones. That’s because everyone who was watching the wacky sitcom about life in a radio station were just as closely listening to the songs the show was spinning and that formula helped bands like Blondie, Devo and The Cars become as big as they are today in pop history. Join us for a retro reunion with stars Loni Anderson (“Jennifer Marlowe”) and Howard Hessman (aka “Johnny Fever”) as they unpack stories about one of the “smartest” and most influential comedies of all time.

A Conversation with ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Dawn Wells

No ‘80s kids could survive the decade’s limited TV offerings without watching reruns of the “Gilligan’s Island” sitcom. In this session, we’ll take a “fateful trip” as we sit down with Dawn Wells, who played the show’s pony-tailed country bumpkin Mary Anne.

‘80s Cosplay Fashion Show and Competition

The ‘80s will be visually celebrated in an epic way with an event-wide cosplay fashion show and competition that is sure to light up social media. This instrumental part of NostalgiaCon is being produced in partnership with the veteran cosplay organization Nerd Mafia. Some of the real celebrities inspiring NostalgiaCon’s cosplay will actually be in attendance at show.

‘80s Car Show

The show will feature an ‘80s Car Show with some of the most iconic vehicles of films and real life, including the Delorean from “Back to the Future” and an Ecto-1 from “Ghostbusters.” The car show runs both days of the event.

National Boombox Museum

NostalgiaCon will see the debut of the National Boombox Museum, one of this year’s shows most iconic exhibitions and one that will feature many of the decade’s coolest music machines. The museum will operate both days of the event.

New Wave Concert Night

ABC and The Motels are confirmed to perform for an epic ‘80s pop culture night of New Wave Music. More music news to come!

Sunday, September 29

Max Headroom is the Original Meme and That’s the T-T-T-Truth!

Every single meme in existence today owes its life in one way or another to Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) and you can take that to the b-b-b-bank! When Max Headroom entered popular culture in 1985, no one knew what to make of the stylish, stuttering, digital character. Max Headroom would go on to star in his own TV show and would even become the celebrity character that launched the short-lived launch of New Coke. Matt Frewer will unpack everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Max Headroom and we can’t w-w-w-wait!

I Said a Hip Hop…The Incredible Story Behind the World’s First Hip Hop Smash Hit

The Sugar Hill Gang may not have given birth to Hip Hop but they sure introduced something wonderfully strange to the world in 1980, when they catapulted Hip Hop worldwide with their smash hit single “Rapper’s Delight”. This is the story behind THE song story that helped make Hip Hop what it is today.

Intrigue, Hate, Greed: Yep, it’s a Dallas Reunion!

If the ‘80s is the Decade of Decadence, Greed and Puffy Hair, no top-rated show exemplified the over the top style attitude and selfishness better than “Dallas”. Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), and Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) unite to dish on one of the “dishable” shows of them all and, yes, they’ll make JR proud.

Origins of the Black Action Hero: A Conversation with Taimak, Star of ‘The Last Dragon’

Even though “The Karate Kid” was a larger commercial success, the ‘80s also gave us another martial arts champion icon with Taimak as Bruce Leroy in the cult classic “The Last Dragon”. This is the movie that brought us the first Black Action Hero in movie history and Taimak joins for a special retrospective on the kooky urban film some credit for blazing the trail to “Black Panther” today.

Smack, Whack, Bam: It’s The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling!

Hulk Hogan, Randy “The Macho Man” Savage and Andre “The Giant” may be biggest household names of ‘80s wrestling but for legions of cult fans, the top stars were over in the female side of ring: The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.). Today, GLOW is also the name of a wildly popular, fictionalized Netflix series but in this panel you’ll hear the stories from some of the original legends, including Roxy Astor, Gremlina, and MTV, among others.

Great Scott! Yes, You Can Build a ‘Back to the Future II’ Hoverboard and This is How You Do It

The original hoverboard from “Back to the Future II” may be safely tucked away in the Chicago Sports Museum but fortunately for fans, there is a way for you to make your own hoverboard. Jerry Lopez has cracked the code on how to do just that and in this workshop, he’s going to unpack the secrets to creating and celebrating the most famous hoverboard of all time – just in time for the 30th anniversary of the film this year. This session is a part of a conference-wide tribute that NostalgiaCon is paying event-wide to the Back to the Future trilogy.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about DeLoreans, the Most Famous Pop Culture Car in Movie History

Thanks to a beloved blockbuster movie franchise and legions of fanatical owners, DeLoreans have become engrained as one of the most iconic cars of all American pop culture. In this panel, we’ll explore the stories behind these glorious time machines, their creator John DeLorean, and how their passionate owners are ever-building on their movie star cars’ notoriety. If you’re a DeLorean Geek, this one’s for you!

Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! Join us for the ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Reunion

We could not get enough of Laverne (the late Penny Marshall) & Shirley (Cindy Williams). They were polar opposites but defined the meaning of true friendship in a sometimes unfair and zany world. Even though we sadly lost Marshall earlier this year, we’re hosting a “Laverne & Shirley Reunion” with the one and only Shirley Feeny (Cindy Williams) and Carmine “The Big Ragu” Ragusa (Eddie Mekka), and it’s gonna be a real treat as they dish on all the hijinks behind the two-time Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award winning sitcom. We’re gonna make your dreams come true!

‘80s Mixed Tape Night Concerts

It’s hard to do justice to the full range of unbelievable music genres that the ‘80s produced but we’re gonna try anyway with an ‘80s Mixed Tape Night that already features The Sugar Hill Gang, Monie Love, TKA, Dokken, and Doug E Fresh. More closing night music concert news to come.

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