The Middleburg Film Festival announced additional programming today for its 10th anniversary edition including Sam Mendes’ EMPIRE OF LIGHT which will close the four-day festival on Sunday, October 16. Actor Micheal Ward will be attending the festival and will receive the Spotlight Actor Award for his performance and participate in a conversation following the screening. Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, the film, which was directed, written and produced by Mendes and sees him reteaming with Academy Award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, is a poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema. Ward stars alongside Olivia Colman, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clark, with Tony Jones and Colin Firth.
Continuing its long tradition of showcasing international cinema, MFF will screen Germany’s Oscar entry for Best International Feature ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT with director Edward Berger attending to receive the Festival’s International Spotlight Award. The film is an adaptation of the classic Erich Maria Remarque anti-war novel and a remake of the 1930 Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Berger’s German language film is an interpretation of the story from the German perspective that stars Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic, Thibault De Montalembert, Daniel Brühl and Devid Striesow.
Screening as the Documentary Spotlight film is Sacha Jenkins’ LOUIS ARMSTRONG’S BLACK & BLUES from Apple Original Films, which offers an intimate and revealing look at the world-changing musician, presented through a lens of archival footage and never-before-heard home recordings and personal conversations. Jenkins is attending the festival and will participate in a post screening discussion. The film’s composer, Terence Blanchard will be returning to the festival with his Grammy nominated quintet The E-Collective as well as the acclaimed Turtle Island Quartet which will join him in performing some of his latest works to help close out the festival.
Receiving this year’s Agnès Varda Trailblazing Film Artist Award is THE WOMAN KING director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Known for her range of films including “Love & Basketball,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Beyond the Lights” and “The Old Guard,” Bythewood’s critically-acclaimed THE WOMAN KING is an epic tale that brings to life the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events and starring Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and John Boyega, the film is one of the year’s breakout hits with critics and audiences alike. As a longtime advocate for equal representation in film and television on screen and behind-the-scenes, award winning Prince-Bythewood has championed many emerging writers and directors as well as funded a scholarship for African American students in the film program at UCLA, her alma mater. The Agnès Varda Award is accompanied by a grant for mentoring aspiring filmmakers.
Also attending the festival to present a Master Class in Film Editing is THE WOMAN KING editor Terilyn A. Shropshire. With THE WOMAN KING, award-winning Shropshire continues her long collaboration with Prince-Bythewood, having edited all of her previous features. She is also a frequent collaborator of MFF alum Kasi Lemmons and recently worked with Halle Berry on her directorial debut “Bruised.” Shropshire serves on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Board of American Cinema Editors.
Dolly De Leon is receiving the MFF Breakthrough Performance Award for her scene-stealing performance in Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner TRIANGLE OF SADNESS. A well-known veteran actress in the Philippines, De Leon has starred in film, TV and theater since the early 90s, working with such celebrated Filipino directors as Lav Diaz and Erik Matti. In TRIANGLE OF SADNESS, a darkly comic exploration of class and inequality, De Leon stars alongside the late Charlbi Dean, Harris Dickinson and Woody Harelson.
Sony Pictures Classics is bringing several of its films to the festival on the occasion of the studio’s 30th anniversary including a special screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN whose subject, the musician and South African cultural phenom Rodriguez, is attending to participate in a conversation following the film. Also attending the festival for various post screening discussions from SPC films are Academy Award-winning writer/director Florian Zeller for THE SON; Kathlyn Horan, the director of the documentary THE RETURN OF TANYA TUCKER – FEATURING BRANDI CARLILE; and documentary filmmaker Lizzie Gottlieb with her film TURN EVERY PAGE.
Other MFF Conversations include one following the screening of the psychological thriller NANNY with the film’s star Anna Diop and one with director J.D. Dillard following his film DEVOTION. In NANNY, Diop plays Aisha, an undocumented nanny who works for a privileged couple in New York City. As she prepares for the arrival of the son she left behind in West Africa, a violent presence invades her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together. An inspiring story of friendship, courage and sacrifice, DEVOTION is set during the Korean War and tells the story of the US Navy’s first Black aviator and his dedicated wingman. The film stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Christina Jackson, Thomas Sadoski and Joe Jonas.
Festival ticket packages and passes are currently for sale at www.middleburgfilm.org. The full schedule will be available on October 3 at which point individual tickets will go on sale.