Written by Will Thompson

For the past 10 years, the Middleburg Film Festival has celebrated the best of film, connecting the Hunt Country community with the visual arts as a major stop on the path to the national awards circuit. Since its inception, the festival has become home to world and regional premieres, established itself as a recognized and celebrated destination for the arts, and  welcomed some of the world’s most talented actors, directors, and filmmaking professionals. 

This October will mark the festival’s 10th anniversary and attendees can anticipate more of what they have come to love over the past decade. As the air begins to crisp and the trees burst with fall colors, downtown Middleburg will be transformed to a hub for film in an event that Town & Country called “one of the most interesting (and influential) on the road winding toward the Academy Awards.” The four-day festival will feature carefully curated selections of films with opening night events on Thursday and screenings throughout the day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The festival’s 10th-anniversary selections will include some of this year’s most buzz-worthy blockbusters, powerful independent films, and captivating documentaries. The 2021 festival boasted 42 Oscar nominations among its selections including Best Picture nominee “Belfast,” Best Actress contender Olivia Coleman from “The Lost Daughter,” and Best Documentary Feature “Flee — a record that organizers have set out to beat during the 10th anniversary.

Kenneth Branagh addresses a crowd at the 2021 Middleburg Film Festival. Photo by Shannon Finney.

Complementing the many films, the festival will also feature Q&A sessions and conversations with many of its previous special guests – a list that has included names such as Kenneth Branagh, Dakota Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Emma Stone, and Viggo Mortensen – as well as artists who are new to the festival.

Dakota Johnson sits down for an interview with Variety awards editor, Clayton Davis, at the 2021 festival. Photo by Shannon Finney.

Attendees can expect to hear from the movie stars, visionaries, and artists who bring storied passion, humor, and drama to life on the silver screen during intimate “Fireside Chats” at festival venues, “Wine & Conversation” events at local vineyards and breweries, farm-to-table dinners, and parties that promise to mix some of Hollywood’s brightest stars with local festival patrons. Among the festival’s out-of-town attendees will be many composer and songwriter honorees who are coming together for a once-in-a-lifetime concert featuring selections of their most memorable work. 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be celebrating our 10th anniversary,” says Susan Koch, the festival’s executive director. “When Sheila Johnson founded the festival in 2013, it was with the mission to use the power of film to inspire, educate and engage our community and through this, increase our understanding of the world and one another – and our mission hasn’t changed since then. I think what makes the festival special is not only the quality of the films and conversations, but the sense of community that’s created.”

“We’re also committed to showcasing diverse voices and perspectives from all over the world,” Koch adds.

Sheila Johnson. Photo by Drew Xeron.

To prepare for the festival, the Town of Middleburg is planning a 10-day lead up to the event beginning on Monday, October 3 at Salamander Resort & Spa and ending on October 12 with a block party at Old Ox Brewery. “We’re very appreciative of all those who helped us along the way including our Board of Directors, Film Advisory Board, sponsors, the film community, and of course, the Town of Middleburg,” Koch says. 

The 2022 festival promises to bring the red carpet experience to Middleburg while giving Hunt Country community members the opportunity to be educated, inspired, and entertained by some of this year’s most powerful films and talented filmmakers.

The festival is scheduled for October 13 to 16 at venues in and around downtown Middleburg. Advance festival passes and individual tickets are on sale now on the festival’s website, middleburgfilm.org. ML

This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.

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