Monday, November 18, 2019

Tedeschi Trucks Band Returning to Play Richmond, Feb. 18

Posted By on Mon, Nov 18, 2019 at 11:43 AM

For the first time in over five years, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is returning to Richmond to play the Altria Theater. The popular blues rock jam band from Jacksonville, Fla. will be performing at Altria on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. at the Altria Theater Box Office, online at altriatheater.com or Etix.com or charge by phone at 800-514-ETIX (3849). Tickets start at $39.50. Additional fees may apply.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

TheatreLAB’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ wins big at Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards

Annual award show also features a proposal from the stage.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 12:01 AM

TheatreLab’s production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" was the big winner at the 12th annual Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards, taking home seven awards including Best Musical.

The black tie event, nicknamed "the Artsies," was held on Sunday, Oct. 27, at Virginia Rep's November Theatre and also featured a memorable highlight that warmed the hearts of many of those present: While accepting his award for best director, for "The Laramie Project," Lucian Restivo, Richmond Triangle Players' artistic director, proposed to boyfriend Luke Newsome from the stage.

The Artsies event is a popular fundraiser for the Theatre Artist Fund of Greater Richmond, which provides financial assistance to individuals in the local theater community during times of need.

According to a press release: In the Best Play category, there were two winners: Richmond Triangle Players’ “The Laramie Project,” about the 1998 slaying of Matthew Shepard and its aftermath; and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ workplace drama “Gloria,” produced by Cadence Theatre Company in partnership with Virginia Rep. “The Laramie Project” also garnered awards for Best Direction – Play for Restivo and the Best Acting Ensemble Award for its cast.

Here is the complete list of winners -- congrats to them all!

Best Musical: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," TheatreLab

Best Direction - Musical: Deejay Gray, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Actor in a Leading Role - Musical: Alexander Sapp, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Actress in a Leading Role - Musical: Susan Sanford, “Grey Gardens”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Musical: Brandon LeReau, “The Wiz”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical: Audra Honaker, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Musical Direction: JS Fauquet, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Choreography: Kikau Alvaro, “The Wiz”

Outstanding Costume Design - Musical: Jeanne Nugent, “The Wiz”

Outstanding Costume Design - Musical: Alex Valentin, “Lizzie the Musical”

Outstanding Lighting Design - Musical: Michael Jarett, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Outstanding Set Design - Musical: Jason Sherwood, “Atlantis”

Outstanding Sound Design - Musical, Joey Luck, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Play: “The Laramie Project," Richmond Triangle Players

Best Play: “Gloria," Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

Best Direction - Play: Lucian Restivo, “The Laramie Project”

Best Actor in a Leading Role - Play: Jamar Jones, “An Octoroon”

Best Actress in a Leading Role - Play: Haliya Roberts, “Pretty Fire”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Play: Jeremy V. Morris, “Oedipus: A Gospel Myth”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Play: Amber Marie Martinez, “Dance Nation”

Outstanding Costume Design - Play: Sue Griffin, “The Game's Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays”

Outstanding Lighting Design - Play: BJ Wilkinson, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Set Design - Play: Chris Raintree, “Songs from Bedlam”

Outstanding Sound Design - Play: Roger Price, “Talk Radio”

Most Promising Newcomer: Joel Ashur, “Gloria”

Best Original Work: “In My Chair”, Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

2019 Ernie McClintock Best Acting Ensemble Award: For their notable performance as a cohesive and compelling ensemble, the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle honors the cast members of “The Laramie Project,” Richmond Triangle Players: Rachel Dilliplane, Annella Kaine, Amber Marie Martinez, Cole Metz, Jacqueline O’Connor, Stevie Rice, Adam Turck, Scott Wichmann

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Virginia Museum of History & Culture and the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia Partnering to Share Resources

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 4:00 AM

From the press release desk:

"Richmond, VA — The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) and the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (BHMVA) are partnering to share collections and resources to connect more people to the story of Virginia.

Under the agreement, select collections from the Black History Museum will be housed at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, which has expanded storage and conservation facilities as well as expert personnel for the preservation and storage of collections. While BHMVA artifacts are at the VMHC they will be digitized and made broadly accessible through their online public catalog as well as the BHMVA website. The partnering institutions will also share their collections with each other for use in research, programs, and exhibitions.

“Our institutions have much in common,” said VMHC President Jamie Bosket. “We are both committed to revitalizing our programming to preserve Virginia’s past and to using the power of history to inspire. This is a noble partnership for two museums devoted to voicing meaningful stories from our communities, and the public stands to benefit immensely from this collaboration.”

The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia was founded in 1981 by Carroll Anderson, Sr., who led the effort to create the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson monument in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. The BHMVA was founded in 1981 and opened in 1991 at 00 Clay Street where it operated until 2016. The museum relocated to the Leigh Street Armory, which quartered Black troops in the mid-1890s, served as a recreation center for Black soldiers during World War II, and then became an extension of Richmond Public Schools for several years. The new museum features permanent galleries exploring Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Desegregation, Massive Resistance, and the Civil Rights Movement. Changing galleries feature exhibitions ranging from visionary artist Murry DePillars to the experience of Black soldiers during World War II. BHMVA executive director, Adele Johnson, says “Our mission is to preserve stories that inspire. As we expand our collections and curate larger exhibitions, space has become a challenge. When VMHC offered to digitize and store items for us, we thought it was a valuable opportunity to continue growing while also sharing our stories with the broader community.”

The Virginia Historical Society was founded in 1831 and is the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth. Its collections total nearly nine million items chronicling 14,000 years of history from Pre-Contact Virginia to the present. In 2018 the historical society launched a new vision and name for its headquarters facility—The Virginia Museum of History & Culture. This transformation was marked by expanded public programming and statewide outreach and a commitment to tell a more inclusive story of Virginia. The VMHC’s current marquee exhibit is “Determined: The 400 Year Struggle for Black Equality, which opened in June 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first captive Africans in English-speaking North America.

Monday, October 14, 2019

PICK: Mike Watt and the Missingmen, Piranha Rama and J. Clyde Morris at Richmond Music Hall, Monday Oct. 14

Posted By on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 4:06 PM

  • Johnny Gee

Tonight one of the legit, DIY godfathers of punk bass, Mike Watt of Minutemen fame, returns with his Missingmen trio to Richmond Music Hall downtown.

A native of Portsmouth, Va. Watt is more often associated with San Pedro, Ca. where he moved at a young age. A hard-playing road man, this reportedly is his 67th tour lasting more than one month.

Recent setlists have featured covers from the likes of Roky Erickson, Blue Oyster Cult, and The Pop Group, in addition to the occasional Minutemen classic and Watt's solo material. New drummer Nick Aguilar is young and looks pretty great in YouTube clips.

Also on the bill, Richmond's own Piranha Rama and J. Clyde Morris.

The Monday night, Oct. 14 show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $20 bones.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

New Local PBS Series Showcasing RVA Artists Airs This Thursday, Oct.10

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Starting this Thursday, Oct 10, you can watch a new television series featuring Richmond artists and arts groups on VPM PBS at 8:30 p.m.

"The Art Scene" will spend 13 episodes exploring these local arts personalities and organizations from the theater world to fine arts, music and arts education.

The debut episode will feature Richmond murals and the power of public art with a focus on Hamilton Glass and Matt Lively; Live Arts, specifically their mentor/apprentice program; and Dogtown Dance Theatre. To see a trailer for the show, go to Vimeo.

Among the hosts for the series: Haliya Roberts, Bianca Bryan, Noah Scalin and Douglas Powell, aka Roscoe Burnems. According to a press release, both Roberts and Bryan have theater backgrounds. Scalin is a visual artist (Skull A Day book as well as this year's Folk Fest artist) and Burnems is a slam poetry performer.

“We are honored that VPM chose 19RED to produce a show that celebrates the people and organizations that create art that inspires, educates and is inclusive of all Virginians,” said Managing Producer Pam Hervey in the press release. “Our mission with ‘The Art Scene’ is to capture the true spirit of these creative communities in our stories and help make their art accessible to all.”

For more information about VPM, visit VPM.org or follow VPM on social media @myVPM.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

PREVIEW: Skylar Gudasz and Blue Cactus at Black Iris, Friday, Sept. 27

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM

Ashland native and NC-based singer/songwriter, Skylar Gudasz’s upcoming performance in the wood-paneled intimacy of the Tiny Bar at the Black Iris may one day be the stuff of legends.

Or not. Commercial success is pretty random, but she has all the ingredients to deserve it. Her hooks are accessible. The cleverness of her lyrics is just the surface layer of a committed poetic intelligence. She’s been called the South’s Joni Mitchell and “the best singer you never heard.”

She’s toured with the likes of Hiss Golden Messenger, the Mountain Goats, and Big Star Third. And the first single from her upcoming 2020 album has the sugar-razor sensibility of the best from her lauded 2016 debut.

She lightly salts her lyrics with erudite references that betray her degrees in theater and English at UNC-Chapel Hill: “lotus-eaters”, “Byzantium,” and “Oleander,” the title of her first release.

“Art should make you feel something,” Gudasz says. “Words are tools, they have their meaning, but they are also a sound in a soundscape.”

She sings with power and emotional clarity. In online clips she is in front of a big band. At the Black Iris, it will be a stripped-down duo.

“I’ve learned that on tour, so many things are out of control, it is best to let what happens happen. I tread it a little sacredly,” she says. “What makes things exceptional is when both you and the audience forget who you are and just exist somewhere in the middle, in the music.”

Skylar Gudasz opens for cosmic country duo Blue Cactus at Black Iris on Friday, Sept. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 advance/$10 at the door.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

AUDIO: Thorp Jenson's new single "Carry Me Home"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 3:10 AM

Americana musician Thorp Jenson is still showing that he's one of the most talented, up-and-coming singer/songwriters in the Richmond area.

The nom de plume for Richmond-based guitarist Chris Ryan, the artist just released a new laid back, country-tinged single, "Carry Me Home," that premiered at Parade Magazine.

The song, which will likely appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bruce Hornsby, also features well-known local drummer, Dusty Ray Simmons. Check it out: Dude has vocal skills far beyond his age. He sounds like he's already been touring those highways and byways for 35 years.

“Carry Me Home” is the first release since his acclaimed debut album "Odessa" (2017), which earned critical kudos while Jenson was named one of Rolling Stone Country’s "10 New Country Artists You Need To Know" in September of that year. Ryan and band will be touring the Southeast to support “Carry Me Home” beginning in October.

“I wrote 'Carry Me Home' thinking about the magic that happens when you meet someone who just seems to understand you on a deep and sincere level from your first interaction," Jenson says in a press release. "The way I imagined it, it is two people who found each other for the first time, sharing in that magic spark. They are sharing in a feeling of comfort that you can let yourself be vulnerable to this person because they already understand you. They spend the night reveling in that feeling together, sharing their stories with each other and just listening to the rhythm of the night.”

The single will be available on Sept. 27. Go to his website for more info.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

32nd Virginia Film Festival Announces Lineup

Ethan Hawke, John Grisham, Ann Dowd, Dennis Christopher among guests.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 6:50 PM

The biggest film festival in the state, the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, has announced its 32nd annual program which will be held Oct. 23 through Oct. 27. This year they've added a day to the festival with the opening night film, "Just Mercy," on Wednesday, Oct. 23 (the same night that Elvis Costello and the Attractions will be playing downtown at the amphitheater.)

The festival will feature more than 150 films including sneak peeks at "Harriet," "Just Mercy," "Western Stars," "Jojo Rabbit" and others. Special guests include actor/director Ethan Hawke, actress Ann Dowd ("The Handmaid's Tale"), author John Grisham, director Wanuri Kahiu, producer Debra Martin Chase, actor Dennis Christopher ("Breaking Away") and actress and dancer Vanessa Bell Calloway ("Coming to America").

The 2019 Virginia Film Festival opener, "Just Mercy," tells "the powerful and thought-provoking true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), and his history-making battle for justice." Richmond's Afrikana Film Fest will be a part of the spotlight on Virginia filmmaking.

Foodies take note: "The Virginia Film Festival is proud to partner with VPM PBS to present "The Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious New Documentary," a film by Emmy and Peabody-winning Show of Force, in association with VPM PBS, Virginia’s home for Public Media, and Washington, D.C.-based chef and Executive Producer Spike Mendelsohn."

Also the VFF will present the acclaimed HBO documentary "True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality" as its annual school screening on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 10:00 a.m. at The Paramount Theater.

From the press release: "The full 2019 VAFF program will be posted online at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26. Tickets will go on sale online at noon on Monday, Sept. 30 at virginiafilmfestival.org; in-person at the UVA Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building, open M-F from noon to 5:00 p.m.; and by phone at 434-924-3376. Beginning Wednesday, October 16, tickets will also be available at the Festival’s Downtown Box Office in the lobby of Violet Crown on the Downtown Mall."

With plenty of details, here's more from the press release:

"CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA– Sep. 24 – The 32nd Annual Virginia Film Festival will feature a deep and diverse program of more than 150 films, including some of the hottest titles on the festival circuit today, and an array of special guests from throughout the industry, and from across the globe. This year’s lineup includes award-winning actor, writer, and director Ethan Hawke, noted actor Ann Dowd, international bestselling author John Grisham, actor Dennis Christopher, acclaimed filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu – plus more than 100 filmmakers in all.

The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.

“We are thrilled to announce our 2019 program,” said Jody Kielbasa, director of the Virginia Film Festival and Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia, “Once again, we have a lineup of films that includes some of the year’s most heavily-discussed titles of the awards season, plus some of the most exciting work from around the globe. We have worked hard to present a program that both entertains and challenges audiences, making a concerted effort to present films that reflect the world we live in, and that inspire vibrant discussions. We are particularly proud to continue our focus on important issues of social justice through high-profile screenings of Harriet, which was filmed here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Just Mercy, which tells the inspiring story of Bryan Stevenson and his ongoing crusade to right wrongs within the criminal justice system, and Clemency, featuring Alfre Woodard as a maximum security prison warden struggling with the burdens of her death row duties, among many others ...

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke will participate in a conversation about his remarkable career that will follow a screening of the acclaimed Sidney Lumet film "Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead," in which he co-starred opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman. The conversation will be moderated by PBS News Hour’s Elizabeth Flock. Hawke has emerged as a multifaceted artist, challenging himself as a novelist, screenwriter, and director. Hawke most recently starred in Paul Schrader’s timely political and environmental thriller First Reformed, which won the Gotham Award, Independent Spirit Award and over 20 film critics’ awards for best actor. Hawke’s longtime successful collaboration with Richard Linklater has included Boyhood, which earned Hawke Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and BAFTA nominations as Best Supporting Actor. Their projects have also included the acclaimed “Before” trilogy with Julie Delpy that included Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, the latter two scripts earning him Academy Award nominations for screenwriting. Hawke has starred in more than 60 films overall, including White Fang, Hamlet, Juliet Naked, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and Training Day, which earned him Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild nominations. Hawke’s directing credits also include his 2001 debut Chelsea Walls, Blaze, which premiered in 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival Sundance, and the documentary Seymour: An Introduction.

Ann Dowd was the recipient of the 2017 Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her acclaimed performance as “Aunt Lydia” on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. She has also been nominated for a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics Choice Award for her work on the show. Dowd will be on hand for a discussion to follow Dismantling Democracy, the new documentary co-produced by the UVA Center for Politics, which she narrates. Dowd received another Emmy nomination for her performance as “Patti Levin” on the beloved HBO series The Leftovers, created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta. In 2013, she was the recipient of Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review for her performance as “Sandra” in Craig Zobel’s controversial psychological thriller Compliance, which also earned her Independent Spirit Award and Critic’s Choice Award. Last summer, she shared the screen with Toni Collette in A24’s horror hit Hereditary, directed by Ari Aster, and had a notable supporting turn in Bart Layton’s American Animals. Dowd’s television career has been highlighted by an acclaimed performance alongside Frances McDormand in Olive Kitteridge, recurring roles on Good Behavior, Masters of Sex, Judging Amy, Third Watch, and Freaks and Geeks, and memorable appearances on True Detective (Season 1), Louie, Girls, House, and Chicago Hope, Her film work includes Collateral Beauty, Flags of Our Fathers, The Informant, The Manchurian Candidate, Garden State, and Philadelphia.

"Breaking Away" with special guest Dennis Christopher

The VAFF will also celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the beloved 1979 Academy Award-winning film "Breaking Away," including a conversation with one of its stars, Dennis Christopher. The classic coming-of-age film tells the story of four friends coming to terms with life after high school in Bloomington, Indiana, where they are ostracized as “townies” by Indiana University students. Christopher’s character, Dave, develops an obsession with the Italian cycling team and with a particular young woman, inspiring the group to compete in the school’s famed “Little 500” bike race. Christopher’s long and distinguished career has also included roles in "Fade to Black," and Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award-winning "Django Unchained."

"The Client" with author John Grisham

The VAFF will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Client, including a conversation with John Grisham. The blockbuster legal thriller brought an Academy Award nomination for Susan Sarandon and marked an auspicious debut for the late Brad Renfro as an 11-year-old boy who finds himself way over his head in a scandal that reaches all the way to the halls of the United States Senate.

Guest Artist Residency: Wanuri Kahiu

Acclaimed director Wanuri Kahiu will join the VAFF for a screening of her film Rafiki followed by a conversation on her career and creation of the Afrobubblegum Movement. After the release and subsequent ban in 2018 in Kenya of her film Rafiki, a love story between two women, Kahiu took the Kenya Film Classification Board to court for her constitutional rights to Freedom of Expression as enshrined in the 2010 National Kenyan constitution. Rafiki meets the criteria of her Afrobubblegum Movement which pledges to feature at least two healthy Africans who are financially stable having fun and enjoying life.

Opening Night Film on Wednesday, Oct. 23

The 2019 Virginia Film Festival will open with "Just Mercy," the powerful and thought-provoking true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), and his history-making battle for justice. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of Stevenson’s first cases was that of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who was convicted of murdering an 18-year-old girl in a high-profile case marred by a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and tainted by the testimony of a deeply compromised witness. With the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), Stevenson dives into a world of corruption, prejudice and political machinations to fight for McMillian and others like him, languishing on Death Row.

Gala Screening on Thursday, Oct. 24

Over several nights in his Colts Neck, New Jersey barn, Bruce Springsteen performed all 13 songs from his latest record, "Western Stars," joined by a full orchestra, backing band, and his wife, the guitarist and singer Patti Scialfa. This documentary of the same name, presented in partnership with the Miller Center, is co-directed by Springsteen along with Thom Zimny, and gives audiences an intimate look at the latest chapter in the career of one of music’s most iconic figures. Zimny will be on hand for a post-screening conversation.

Centerpiece Film on Saturday, Oct. 26

Based on the extraordinary life of Harriet Tubman, "Harriet," filmed in Virginia, chronicles the American hero’s escape from slavery and transformation into a historic abolitionist. Tubman’s courage, ingenuity, and tenacity helped free hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad and changed the course of history. From acclaimed writer/director Kasi Lemmons, and starring Cynthia Erivo, this triumphant story of one woman’s journey to freedom remembers the dark and grueling realities of slavery. Leading with the themes of rebellion, justice, and the quest for freedom, Harriet brings to light the impact of a crucial figure who worked to dismantle an oppressive establishment unlike any other. The screening will be followed by a panel featuring actor Vanessa Bell Calloway and producers Debra Martin Chase, and Daniela Taplin Lundberg.

Closing Night Film on Sunday, Oct. 27

Fresh off of critically-acclaimed screenings at the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, "The Two Popes" offers a surprisingly lighthearted look at the conversations between Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) on the eve of Benedict’s shocking 2013 retirement, and Bergoglio’s ascension to the Papacy. Directed by the Academy Award-nominated Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), the film takes viewers beyond the gilded gates of the Vatican and into the minds and hearts of two men at a moment of historic transition in a Catholic Church grappling with how to lead its faithful in a rapidly changing world.

Spotlight Films

Once again, the Virginia Film Festival will present a lineup of some of the most acclaimed films on the current festival circuit. The 2019 lineup includes:

"Clemency" – Alfre Woodard stars as Bernadine Williams, a prison warden at a maximum-security prison whose soul and spirit are challenged by the many executions she has carried out. The job leaves her with psychological and emotional demons that have taken a toll on her entire life, and that ultimately help bind her to an inmate whose death she is scheduled to oversee next.

"Driveways" – Director Andrew Ahn’s intimate drama revolves around the unlikely friendship formed between a lonely young boy and his new octogenarian neighbor (Brian Dennehy). As his mother (Hong Chau) looks on, the boy provides the widowed veteran with a youthful outlook and begins to discover a newfound maturity within himself.

"Jojo Rabbit" – This daring, touching, and comedic satire, winner of the Audience Award at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, is the story of a lonely German boy named Jojo whose world is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (director Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

"Marriage Story" – Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach directs this incisive and compassionate portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family staying together – starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.

"Motherless Brooklyn" – Edward Norton wrote, directed, produced, and stars in this tale of a restless private detective with Tourette’s Syndrome whose investigation of his friend and mentor Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) sends him into the heart of 1950’s New York, from Harlem jazz joints all the way to the corruption-filled hallways of City Hall, to get answers.

"Portrait of a Lady on Fire" – One of the most popular films on the 2019 festival circuit, this is the story of a young painter in 18th century France Marianne (Noémie Merlant) who is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) without her knowing. Therefore, Marianne must observe her model by day to paint her portrait at night. Day by day, the two women become closer as they share Héloïse’s last moments of freedom before the impending wedding.

"The Report" – Idealistic Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones leads an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program, and uncovers shocking secrets, in this riveting drama from writer/director Scott Z. Burns and starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening.

"Race in America" – Presented with James Madison’s Montpelier The Virginia Film Festival is partnering once again with James Madison’s Montpelier for the third annual Race in America series, exploring the complex and changing issues around what continues to be one of the most important and difficult issues of our time. This year’s series will include Clemency, Harriet, and Just Mercy, in addition to:

"Always in Season" – Jacqueline Olive’s documentary explores the lingering impact of more than a century of lynching African Americans and connects this form of historic racial terrorism to racial violence today.

"Burning Cane" – This extraordinary feature debut from 19-year-old director Phillip Youmans looks at faith, family, and violence among the cane fields of small-town Louisiana as an aging mother struggles between her religious convictions and the love of her son.

"Pahokee" – In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. The documentary follows four teens as they face heartbreak and celebrate the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.

"We are the Radical Monarchs" – Follow the founding and growth of the Radical Monarchs, an Oakland-based alternative to the Girl Scouts for young women of color (ages 8-13) at the front lines of social justice and allyship.


"2040" – Environmental concerns are addressed with the hope that the filmmaker’s daughter, 21 years old in the year 2040, will face a hopeful future. Investigations into the potential of innovations like renewable energy and alternative transportation infuse this documentary with optimism and a sense of determination to affect positive environmental change.

"Autonomy" – Author Malcolm Gladwell leads the first comprehensive documentary look at the human side of the emerging technology that will power self-driving vehicles. The film focuses on the human side of innovation and the psychology of control, fear, and adapting to change.

"The Cave" – The war in Syria has brought death to millions. Civilians live in constant fear of attacks, and for many, safety is found in an underground hospital known as The Cave. In these hidden tunnels, female doctors serve alongside men in roles that would be unthinkable in the sexist culture that exists above. The Cave, from National Geographic films, received the 2019 Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"Ernie & Joe" – In an intimate portrait that illustrates progressive methods of policing by following two police officers specializing in the San Antonio Police Department mental health unit, this documentary reflects the best of public servants, one 911 call at a time.

"It Started as a Joke" – Comedian Eugene Mirman’s offhand joke of creating a comedy festival making fun of other comedy festivals, became the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. Featuring a star-studded lineup including Kumail Nanjiani and Mike Birbiglia, this documentary pays homage to what comedy is, is not, and everything in-between.

"Kifaru" – The northern white rhino species has long been in danger of extinction. With the number of surviving rhinos diminishing, a conservancy in central Kenya was established to breed and protect what remained of the species. Following two rangers for over four years, this film documents the joys and disappointments of conservation in this touching documentary.

"Midnight Family" – With a population of almost 9 million, Mexico City only operates 45 government emergency ambulances. Private EMTs step in to serve as a lifeline to those needing medical attention. The Ochoa family operates a for-profit ambulance; however, the lack of financial gain and local corruption often throw them into a moral and ethical gray area.

"Varda" by Agnes – From Agnès Varda, the “Queen of French Cinema” herself, this heartwarming piece combs through the artist’s remarkable life and career while allowing the filmmaker to have the final word on her films.

"We Believe in Dinosaurs" – In rural Kentucky, all eyes are on a life-size model of Noah’s Ark being built to prove the accuracy of the Bible. A creationist, a former creationist, and a pro-science activist become the main characters in an examination of the controversy encompassing evolution denial and the separation of church and state.

"When All is Ruin Once Again" – This poetic, meditative, beautifully shot black-and-white film is an ode to close-knit rural Irish communities, introducing us to the people who live on the borders of the counties of Galway and Clare in the west of Ireland.

"You Don’t Nomi" – The release of Showgirls in 1995 was met with ridicule from both critics and audiences. Following the journey of the film from initial flop to cult classic, this documentary provides a thought-provoking and entertaining window into American pop culture and the ways in which film can connect communities.

Other documentaries include Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, Forman vs. Forman, General Magic, Human Nature, The Kingmaker, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, and When All is Ruin Once Again, among others.

VAFF and VPM PBS, Virginia’s home for Public Media

The Virginia Film Festival is proud to partner with VPM PBS to present The Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious New Documentary, a film by Emmy and Peabody-winning Show of Force, in association with VPM PBS, Virginia’s home for Public Media, and Washington, D.C.-based chef and Executive Producer Spike Mendelsohn. The film takes viewers inside what has long been considered one of the greatest dining experiences in America, with the quirkiest cast of characters imaginable. Audiences see both the front and back of house as the “chef’s chef” Patrick O’Connell and his team celebrate the 40th year in business while chasing the ultimate accolade…a third Michelin star. The Inn at Little Washington is slated to have its broadcast premiere in early 2020 on PBS. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Chef Patrick and director Mira Chang, moderated by PBS NewsHour correspondent Roben Farzad. The VAFF/VPM partnership will also include a 50th Anniversary celebration of Sesame Street during the Festival’s Family Day on Saturday, October 26.

Spotlight on Virginia Filmmaking

The Festival will shine a spotlight on an impressive collection of films that were made in Virginia or have roots in the Commonwealth. Titles include:

Afrikana Film Festival – The VAFF is proud to partner with the Richmond-based Afrikana Film Festival for a special program of films dedicated to showcasing cinematic works by people of color from around the world, with a special focus on the global Black narrative.

Fishing with Dynamite – Director Paul Wagner examines how corporations and Wall Street and their obsession with short term profits are negatively impacting the foundations of American Capitalism in his newest documentary, presented in partnership with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Best of Film at UVA, Best of VCUarts, and Best of Film at Mason – As the official film festival of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the VAFF will salute some of Virginia’s finest young filmmakers from the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and Virginia Commonwealth University in a special program that captures and celebrates the diversity of cinematic storytelling found at these institutions.

"Southern Journey" (Revisited) – In 1959, Alan Lomax set out on a road trip through the south to collect traditional American roots music. The recordings that Lomax made serve as both a collection of traditional music and a social document of the times. This film follows the route that Lomax previously traversed and takes the pulse of a nation, surveying what has and has not changed in the 6 decades since Lomax first made his trip.

Other Virginia films include Harriet, Inn at Little Washington, Queen of the Capital, and a short film showcase of work by UVA professor Kevin Everson.

International Films

Continuing its strong track record of showcasing the very best in cinema from around the world, the VAFF will spotlight a selection of some of the most acclaimed films in foreign cinema this year.

"Atlantics" (France) – In Senegal, workers attempt to make the journey across the sea in search of a better life. After their abrupt disappearance, a strange fever begins to spread in this supernatural romance that won the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

"Parasite" (Korea) – The Park Family is the picture of aspirational wealth. The Kim Family is rich in street smarts but not much else. In a chance opportunity, the Kim children become tutors to the Parks, and a symbiosis forms between the families. Darkly hilarious and heart-wrenching, this 2019 Cannes Palme d’Or-winner showcases director Bong Joon-ho at the top of his game.

"Bacurau" (Brazil) – The village of Bacurau is in dire condition. Basic supplies are running low, access to the outside world is fading, and the government begins to deny its existence, wiping it from all maps. As the outside world begins to close in, the villagers stand their ground with a secret weapon. The film won the 2019 Jury Prize at Cannes.

"Frankie" (France) – Iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert plays the title role of Frankie, a well-known movie star struggling with terminal illness and her own mortality, Frankie invites her extended family on a vacation to a picturesque village in Portugal. Although the entirety of the film occurs over one day, the family’s dynamics are quickly made known and deeply explored.

"I Lost My Body" (France) – In a desperate attempt to get back to its body, an amputated hand journeys across Paris. Flashbacks to the hand’s life show his body growing up and falling in love, slowly giving answers to the cause of the separation. This animated film, which won top honors at Cannes Critics Week and the Annecy Animation Festival, is captivating and poetic, providing a touching account of loss.

"Pain and Glory" (Spain) – The latest film from legendary filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar portrays a director (Antonio Banderas) facing the decline of his career. As he looks back on his life, he questions whether or not there is a life beyond his art. Memories of first love, childhood joys, and painful loss all flood back as he attempts to fill the void that brought his filmmaking to a halt.

"The Song of Names" (Hungary) – Centering on a young violin prodigy at the start of World War II who mysteriously vanishes without a trace before his debut performance, and his brother who tries to find him, this unwavering drama about friendship, betrayal, and reconciliation illustrates both the horrors of war and sibling rivalry with musical revelations.

"Synonyms" (Israel) – An Israeli twenty-something moves to Paris and intends to rid himself of his nationality. Synonyms, which won the Golden Bear at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival, explores the complexities of cultural identities and the challenges of putting roots down in a new place.

"The Traitor" (Italy) – In the early 1980’s, a war rages between Sicilian mafia bosses over the heroin trade. Tommaso Buscetta flees to hide out in Brazil. Arrested and extradited to Italy, Buscetta makes a decision that will change everything for the Mafia: he decides to betray the eternal vow he made to the Cosa Nostra.

Other films include Beanpole (Russia), Default (Korea), The Father (Bulgaria), Ghost Town Anthology (Canada), Grass (Korea), Oh Mercy! (France), Song Without a Name (Peru), and The Wild Goose Lake (China), among others.


"Queer Love on Television" – The search for love and connection between people of color in the queer community is explored in two episodes of television, both written by UVA alum, Steven Kung. In Dear White People Volume 3 episode “Chapter VII,” shy reporter Lionel begins to explore his Ivy League university’s queer spaces. In Falling for Angels episode “Koreatown,” two Asian men, one Korean American and the other Taiwanese American, explore their respective relationships to their cultures, and to each other, over 24-hours in Los Angeles’s Koreatown.

"Changing the Game" – High school athlete Mack Beggs made headlines when he became the Texas girls wrestling state champion for the second time. Despite his desire to wrestle against his fellow male opponents, Texas athletic rules force him to compete with young women. This film follows Beggs’ story along with two other transgender high school athletes to highlight the struggles of the fight for trans rights in high school athletic programs across the United States.

"Gay Chorus Deep South" – In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws and the divisive 2016 presidential election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American South. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that separate us are set aside by the power of music, humanity, and a little drag.

"Portrait of a Lady on Fire" (France) – In eighteenth century France, Héloïse has rejected her mother’s attempts to commission a portrait which will lead to marriage. As a result, her newest painter, Marianne, must masquerade as a lady’s maid during the day to paint her subject by night. As the portrait materializes, an unlikely relationship blossoms between the two women as Héloïse enjoys her last moments of untethered bliss.

"Queen of the Capital" – Muffy Blake Stephyns and her everyday persona, Daniel, must navigate her bureaucratic day job in the Department of Labor in Washington D.C., all while balancing her role in the Imperial Court of Washington D.C., a philanthropic organization full of drag queens, drag kings, and other vibrant performers. This documentary illuminates the thriving D.C. drag scene and explores the story of an individual on a crusade for the community.

"To the Stars" – In a small town in 1960s Oklahoma, reclusive teen Iris forges a friendship with Maggie, the worldly but reckless new girl, who homes in on Iris’s untapped potential and coaxes her out of her shell. This subtle black-and-white film about friendship, growth and hope reveals the courage of individuals forced to take drastic measures when they’re made to stand up for themselves.

"Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts" – As the charming drag persona of Milwaukee-raised Brian Firkus, Trixie Mattel does it all; filming Drag Race All Stars, managing personal projects, recording a new album, and navigating relationships including an unexpected fallout with close friend and web series co-star Katya Zamolodchikova. This documentary is a raw and deeply personal portrait of the pitfalls of success and the endless churn of being a professional performer, singer, and comedian."

Friday, September 20, 2019

Local Artists Join Global Day of Action Against Climate Change

Billboard by Noah Scalin and Daniel Calder will go up Sept. 21.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Finally there seems to be the slightest bit of momentum from folks wondering whether we should be concerned that most scientists don't see things going too well for humanity (to say nothing of a million other species) over the next few decades.

To coincide with the U.N Climate Summit and Youth Climate Summit 2019, global arts initiative Micro Galleries is holding a global day of creative action on Saturday, Sept. 21 against climate change. And at least one pair of Richmond artists will be participating.

Noah Scalin ("Skull-A-Day" project) and Daniel Calder have created an image that will be shown for 24 hours on the billboard located at 5912 W. Broad St. (near Hamstead Ave.) The message takes the form of a landscape image of Richmond inundated by a flooded James River coupled with inspirational text from Richmond's own Arthur Ashe: "Did I make the best use of the time I had?"

The image sent to Style (shown above) was titled "New Atlantis, Old Dominion."

"Noah and I have been talking about working together for years," Calder told Style in an email message. "We both have a history of collaboration in a wide range of media. When this project came along, it seemed like a perfect opportunity."

Both artists released a joint statement via press release:

“As artists we feel we have a great platform through our art to connect with the local community about the impact climate disruption will have on their way of life. And, we can’t sit back and wait for others to do something."

They also noted a quote by environmentalist Bill McKibben: "When Bill heard about this global day of art action he threw his support behind it stating, ‘environmentalists are good at bar graphs and statistical tables.. but that’s only half of the human brain. We also need art and music to reach our more visceral core. That’s why this initiative from Micro Galleries is so vital.’

Also from the release: "Noah and Daniel’s work in Richmond will be live streamed over 24 hours, followed by its inclusion in an online exhibition at www.microgalleries.org. To find out how you can support this day of action and watch the art unfold, head to www.microgalleries.org/dayofaction.

For a more philosophical take: "Perhaps the most important philosophical question we face today is how to commit to some notion of human flourishing in the face of such an existential threat," check out this article "We Broke The World" at the Baffler.

Oh, and go Team Greta.

Virginia Folklife Stage and Area to feature "Hot Rods and Hot Licks"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 7:00 AM

There's something new this year at the Richmond Folk Fest's Virginia Folklife Stage and Area that fans of folk music and Nascar can love.

From a press release this morning:

The Virginia Folklife Program’s 2019 presentation of Hot Rods and Hot Licks will celebrate and showcase some of the Commonwealth’s most skilled and innovative automotive magicians today.

Audiences will witness the intricate art of pinstriping, custom form sculpting, bead rolling and stretching, and much more, while getting up close and personal with the prized rolling wonders of local hot rodders and collectors. And while we won’t be racing these beauties on the street, speed will definitely be on display, as audiences will be able to witness the complete disassembly and reassembly of a small block Chevy engine in world record time by our own Hot Rodders of Tomorrow national youth champions from Roanoke County Schools.

While Team Vibrant Performance breaks down engines in record times, young contestants will dazzle the judges with their own lightening quick banjo breakdowns in the 5th Annual Scott Street Five String Finals. As master custom car designer Marty Martino demonstrates the sculpting of whimsical curves on a hot rod’s fins, master Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat will bend her own body into equally elegant yet seemingly impossible forms.

Much in the way that Virginians turn local lots into cruise ins and drag strips, audiences will marvel at the remarkable artistic expressions and aesthetic cultures that arose from the urban parking lots of Hampton Roads with the dazzling hip hop dance moves of Washington, D.C.-area arts collective Urban Artistry.

Here is a list of performers and material culture demonstrators:


Bryan Bowers Band (autoharp virtuoso/folk)

Danny Knicely (multi-instrumentalist and dancer)

Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd (oyster shucking champions)

Dr. Levine and the Dreaded BluesLady with Andrew Alli (blues)

Frank Newsome (Old Regular Baptist hymns)

J Pope (vocalist and lyricist)

Legendary Ingramettes (gospel)

Linda Lay and Springfield Exit (bluegrass)

Mandkhai Erdembat (Mongolian contortion)

Urban Artistry (house dance and hip hop)

Whitetop Mountain Band (old time)

Wild Ponies (Americana)

Willard Gayheart featuring Dori Freeman (Appalachian singer/songwriter)

Material Culture Demonstrators

Jack Harris – Custom Metal Work

Kent Writtenberry – Autobody Metal Work and Custom Restoration

Tom Van Nortwick – Automobile Pinstriping

Marty Martino – Custom Auto Design and Shaping

Roddy Moore – Curator of Virginia Folklife Area

Team Vibrant Performance: Burton Center for Arts and Technology Motor Sports Team, Chris Overfelt, Coach – Engine Assembly and Disassembly

  • Re: Roundup: Richmond Forum, International Violin Competition, Stone's Throw Down, GBV, plus Violent Femmes return with Echo and the Bunnymen

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