Photos by Tony Gibson

The Middleburg Film Festival recently announced the Audience Award winners for Best Narrative Film and Best Documentary Film following the conclusion of the annual four-day festival on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. 

Best Narrative Film was awarded to The Two Popes from director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who also received the Festival’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award. 

The award for Best Documentary Film went to Willie about NHL legend, Willie O’Ree, who attended the festival with director Laurence Mathieu-Leger.

Middleburg Film Festival (MFF) offered four days of fantastic films. The carefully curated selection of narrative and documentary films were screened in intimate theatre environments. Audiences enjoyed fascinating Q&As with world-renowned filmmakersand actors. 

Ray Costa of Costa Communications, “Ford v Ferrari “ Composer Marco Beltrami, “Harriet” Composer Terance Blanchard.
Overhead view of the MFF Barn Party at Salamander Resort & Spa.
The crew from the movie “Waves” included Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown and Director Trey Edward Shults.
Sheila Johnson applauds the accomplishments of “Harriet” composer Terance Blanchard.
Interviewer Michelle Morris, “Harriet” Director Kasi Lemmons and “Harriet” Executive Producer Debra Martin Chase.
Composer Terance Blanchard performed a concert on the final day of the festival.

This year’s films included Oscar contenders, festival favorites, foreign films, regional premieres, and both narrative and documentary films. MFF audiences were given the opportunity to cast ballots for their favorite festival film following each screening. This year’s festival featured 34 films spanning various genres, including Oscar contenders, thought-provoking documentaries and critically acclaimed foreign language films.

“Congratulations to our Audience Award winners The Two Popes and Willie,” said MFF Executive Director Susan Koch. “It is especially fitting in these divided times that our audiences chose to award The Two Popes, a film about two ideologically opposed men who find common ground and a way forward for the good of their institution, and Willie, the inspiring story of Willie O’Ree and the racism and other challenges he faced as the first black hockey player in the NHL.”

“Our sincerest thanks to everyone who made Middleburg Film Festival’s seventh year an enormous success,” said MFF Founder and Board Chair Sheila Johnson. “From the filmmakers and distributors who brought us this incredible slate of films, to our sponsors, filmgoers and volunteers, I do think this was our best year yet.”

Netflix Team Vicki Shenzhen, Anthony McCarten “Two Popes”, Christina Gizoni, Jen Abrahamson, Albert Tello, Susan Koch.
Rodrigo Prieto “The Irishman”, Sheila Johnson and Ann Hornaday “Washington Post.” Photos by Tony Gibson

(Above: Mayor “Bridge” Littleton, Rev. Eugene LeCouteur, Producer of Willie, Bryant McBride, and Middleburg resident.)

Starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, The Two Popes received standing ovations at both of its MFF screenings. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody) also participated in an in-depth career conversation with John Horn, host of KPCC’s The Frame.

Willie made its U.S. premiere at a sold-out screening which was followed by a Q&A with O’Ree, director Laurence Mathieu-Leger, producer Bryant McBride and the film’s executive producer and Washington Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis, and moderated by Anson Carter, a retired Caps player turned sports analyst. The Stanley Cup even made an appearance in town to commemorate the premier of the movie. ML

This article first appeared in the November 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.