One thing missing at film festivals is sleep. Forget about it. It’s not that you’re up all night partying – not here. It’s just that so many great movies and interviews and Q&As can fill up a day pretty quick.
Although, we did go to the Opening Night party and rolled into bed at 1am, it was up bright and early for our inaugural fireside chat “Coffee and Contenders”
Clayton Davis, Nathaniel Rogers, and I hosted our first chat about the Middleburg Festival, the Oscar race, and offered recommendations on what films were not to be missed. Who else was going to come to the library at 8:45 a.m.? Well, we knew our significant others were going to be there… so that’s 2. Just another 48 seats to fill.
We took our places and before we knew it, the room was packed. Standing-room-only packed.
And so we began. I asked how many people follow the Oscar race and at least 3/4 of the room raised their hands. Clayton started with some trivia which broke the ice and we were off to the races.
Our effort must have been good enough as we were invited back next year and people have been stopping to congratulate us all weekend.
It was time for the first movie.
Now, the thing is I love Tom Hanks, but Mister Rogers is not part of British culture, so I have a bit of blind spot. We had other shows I watched as a kid, but not this. My introduction to him came last year with the documentary. The sentimental childhood flashback was not there for me, as it was for many.
Alas, we don’t have a standard Fred Rogers biopic. We have Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) playing Tom Junod, a cynical journalist who — when assigned the task of writing a 500-word essay on an American hero — doesn’t quite want to do it. He’s also just not on good terms with his family either. This movie is his story.
Hanks won me over when he sang the Mister Rogers theme song. The warmth just oozed off the screen and he, of course, is extraordinary
As the two men get together and Bogel does his research he learns from Rogers how he processes feelings of rage and anger and all the dark feelings we can react to. Rogers simply responses with kindness.
Seems simple? The film reminds us to just let go of negative feelings and whether Rogers was a part of your life or not, his message and his legacy remain just as relevant today.
Lunch was at the winery celebrating Women in Film. This annual luncheon is a great and significant part of the Middleburg Film Festival. Executive Director Susan Koch and Founder Sheila Johnson are the women behind the festival and always organize the luncheon for maximum interest. It’s an event that allows the women attendees to network and share their voices. I got to sit with Mati Diop whose Film Atlantics is screening here and debuted in Cannes. Diop was presented with the inaugural Agnes Varda Trailblazer award, along with Harriet director, Kasi Lemmons whose flight had been delayed due to the Nor’easter in New York.
The final film of the evening was Waves. A fantastic and moving film to end the second night. The film’s score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is electrifying. Director Trey Edward Shults, Kelvin Harrison, Alexa Demie, and Sterling K. Brown were on hand for the film’s Q&A, stopping by the festival. Brown delighted the crowd as he ran through the audience taking questions. He also joked,
“Don’t leave halfway through the movie!” referring to a key part of the film’s plot.
“It’s about the highs and lows of life and love and everything in between.” Schults said describing the story. All stayed long after the Q&A to take photos and answer questions.
— John Battiston, III (@JB3writes) October 18, 2019