Middleburg Film Festival 2021: Belfast, Cyrano, Red Rocket, C’mon C’mon and Much More

Posted on October 13, 2021 at 2:02 pm

In just seven years Virginia’s Middleburg Film Festival, set in the fabulous Salamander Hotel, has become a great way to see the films we’ll be talking about all awards season and to talk to the people who created them. Sheila Johnson has made MFF one of the post prestigious and coveted places to premiere a film. Following a “hybrid” year with online access in 2020, the festival is back in person in gorgeous, gracious, Virginia hunt country, always spectacular in the fall.

I’ll be speaking in the “Talk Back to the Critics” panel again this year, with my friends Travis Hobson, Susan Wloszczyna, and Tim Gordon. And some of the films I’m most looking forward to are “Cyrano,” starring Peter Dinklage and two ready-for-stardom up-and-coming young actors, Hayley Bennett and Kelvin Harrion, Jr., Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical “Belfast,” “Red Rocket” from “Florida Project’s” Sean Baker, and “C’mon, C’mon” with Joaquin Phoenix. Stay tuned for more!

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Middleburg Film Festival 2020

Posted on October 8, 2020 at 9:13 pm

The Middleburg Festival begins October 15, 2020 and, as always, it has an impressive line-up of hotly anticipated films including some arriving with a lot of plaudits from other festivals, like “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand, and “Ammonite” with Kate Winslet. This year’s honorees include Hollywood legend Sophia Loren, composer Kris Bowers, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and director Chloé Zhao. And I’ll be on the critic panel again with my friends and colleagues Tim Gordon, Travis Hopson, Jason Fraley, and Susan Wloszczyna.

Check out the full schedule.

There will be some in-person, socially distant events and screenings but much of it is available virtually, so anyone can attend!

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Doc5 Middleburg: 5 Highly-Anticipated Documentaries Premiere at the Middleburg Community Center, September 22 – 26, 2020

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 12:05 pm

CMP has announced its inaugural ​Doc5 Film Festival will take place at the Middleburg Community Center (200 W. Washington St., Middleburg, Virginia 20117) from Tuesday, September 22 through Saturday, September 26, 2020.

Doc5 is the traveling “little sister” to CMP’s flagship Doc10 Film Festival, which launched in Chicago in 2015 and has continued its reign as the taste-making festival in the Midwest, with dozens of titles earning Oscar nominations and trophies. CMP’s mission with its festival series is to celebrate independent documentary filmmaking and the filmmakers who tell those stories. Doc5 Film Festival is more intimate, bringing these incredible films on the large screen so film lovers in smaller communities and locales can watch them in a festival experience.

“We’re so proud of the success of our Doc10 Film Festival and we want to share the experience across the country,” said CMP’s ​Co-Founder and Board Chair, Steve Cohen​. “We’re really excited to launch Doc5 with a slate of film premieres especially curated for the film-lover community of Middleburg, Virginia.

Doc5 opens on Tuesday, September 22 with ​OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES, ​which ​follows famous chef Yotam Ottolenghi on his quest to bring the sumptuous art and decadence of Versailles to life in cake form at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Director Laura Gabbert’s film credits include feature length ​No Impact Man and the popular Netflix series ​Ugly Delicious. ​OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES perfectly captures the heights of human achievement and the frailty of decadence, adding taste as one more sense with which to experience the Met.

The festival closes on Saturday, September 26 with ​DEAR MR. BRODY, a story about how a 21-year-old hippie heir to a margarine fortune announced to the world that he would be giving away his $25-million inheritance to anyone in need. Set in 1970, Michael Brody, Jr. and his wife Renee were soon flung into a psychedelic spiral of events and overwhelmed by the crush of personal letters responding to their extraordinary offer. Fifty years later, an enormous cache of these letters are discovered–unopened. In this riveting follow-up to his acclaimed ​Tower, award-winning director Keith Maitland reveals the incredible story of Michael Brody, Jr. and the countless struggling Americans who sought his help.

The full slate of films featured at Doc5 include:
● 9/22: OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES ​ (Dir. Laura Gabbert, U.S.)
● 9/23: THE SIT-IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW (Dir. ​Yoruba Richen, U.S.​)

● 9/24: TIME ​(Dir. Garrett Bradley, U.S.)
● 9/25: WHIRLYBIRD​ (Dir. Matt Yoka, U.S.)
● 9/26: DEAR MR. BRODY​ (Dir. Keith Maitland, U.S.)

CMP’s Chicago-based Doc10 Film Festival is known for its ancillary programming, including special talk backs with filmmakers and subjects, so audiences can expect some surprises during Doc5 Middleburg.
All screenings will be held outdoors to a capacity of 75 guests who will find it very easy to maintain a safe social distance in the venue’s large amphitheater. In case weather conditions force an indoor event, the festival will be moved indoors to a 50-person capacity ballroom that will still easily adhere to social distancing guidelines. Attendees will each receive swag bags with hand sanitizer, masks, and bug spray at the entrance.

Admission to each film is $25, or guests can purchase a pass for all 5 films for $100. These will be available online at doc5filmfest.org, and guests can also purchase tickets onsite at the venue’s concessions.

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SDCC2020@Home: Charlize Theron, Robert Rodriguez, LGBTQ Characters, and Bill and Ted Face the Music

Posted on July 26, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Copyright 2020 Orion

Instead of waiting for days to get into the cavernous Hall H to hear Guillermo del Toro talk about the upcoming film “Antlers,” you can watch it here.

Do not call Charlize Theron a warrior. I wrote about why and her interview on action movies, or you can watch it here.

Copyright ReFrame 2018

The Women Rocking Hollywood panel is always tops on my list. It was great to hear of the increasingly widespread adoption of ReFrame’s seal of gender equity awarded to films that meet their goals.

I was very moved by the panel about LGBTQ characters on television. Who knew a toothbrushing scene could be so romantic, or that there was such a big difference between “There’s something I haven’t told you” and “There’s something we haven’t talked about?”

The His Dark Materials panel had a thrilling revelation: the character played by Andrew Scott has a daemon who will be voiced by his “Fleabag” co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The trailer for Season 2 looks thrilling.

I always love the behind-the-scenes panels, and I “attended” conversations featuring stunt coordinators, composers, editors, a writer/director/editor, a cinematographer, and a make-up artist.

There was no panel at the Con more fun than the celebration of Bugs Bunny’s 80th birthday, with Leonard Maltin and three actors who have followed Mel Blanc in voicing the rascally rabbit. A forthcoming anniversary box set will included several cartoons never before released for home viewing. Panel attendees got a sneak preview.

But my favorite was the “Bill and Ted Face the Music Panel.” Of course the panelists all “arrived” by animated time travel machines shaped like phone booths.

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SDCC 2020: Comic-Con@Home is Free and Open to All!

Posted on July 22, 2020 at 8:47 am

No lines! Comfy chairs! Free parking! Yes, Comic-Con is free and open to all and coming to you at home. Check out the schedule and enjoy!

Copyright 2020 SDCC

And more!  Here’s what they announced today:

  • GoExpo by Community Brands will host the Online Exhibit Hall, with approximately 700 exhibitors offering a variety of cool fan-centric merchandise.
  • Be sure to visit our Portfolio Review page on the Comic-Con@Home website!
  • We’ll also have Gaming which will live on the Discord platform and feature a number of interactive gems, including Wyvern Gaming/Stargate and Legion M/Joe Manganiello’s DEATH SAVES.
  • If you’re looking for a souvenir from Comic-Con@Home, be sure to visit the Merch store for the official Comic-Con T shirt (art provided by DC Comics) as well as lots of Comic-Con and Comic-Con Museum related merchandise.
  • Amazon and Prime Video are official sponsors of Comic-Con@Home and will be treating fans to additional activities from a variety of Amazon-owned platforms through their Amazon Virtual-Con portal. Prime Video is also the official sponsor of the Comic-Con 2020 print-at-home badge, which will allow participants to print and wear their free badge as well as take part in many of the fun fan activities.
  • Tumblr will serve as the platform for both the Comic-Con Art Show and the always popular Comic-Con Masquerade. The 46th annual Masquerade will open for viewing Friday, July 24, and winners will be announced on Saturday, July 25.
  • For this year, the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive will be a 26-day drive, starting Wednesday, July 22, and ending on Sunday, August 16. All blood collected on those dates will be credited to the Comic-Con Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive.
  • Collaborator and sponsor IGN will stream roughly 34 Comic-Con@Home panels as well as produce extensive hosted shoulder content, hosted interviews and more, all in support of the online initiative.
  • We welcome BLUEfin as a first-time sponsor for Comic-Con@Home.
  • Films and Anime will live on the Scener Watch Party platform. Scener is a Chrome browser plug-in that will allow fans the ability to simultaneously watch and discus movies and anime. Funimation will also exclusively host all of the Anime watch parties including Black Clover and Fruits Basket. Don’t have a Funimation account? No problem, as Funimation is offering a six-week free account! Just use the code: CCHOME20.
  • FX will unveil the digital experience FX UNLOCKED, where fans will engage with virtual activations for American Horror Story, What We Do in The Shadows, Cake and DAVE.
  • FutureTechLive! returns for a fifth year to present the virtual “World Builders” activation, featuring content by a global community of creators.
  • We’re also excited that joining in the fun is the Comic-Con Museum, which is offering a variety of activities and tutorials throughout the Comic-Con@Home weekend and beyond.
  • Don’t forget to check out the online version of the 260-page Souvenir Book, which is available as a free, downloadable PDF.
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