Inaugural Loudoun Arts Film Festival coming, pandemic or not

It’s not quite the way planners originally envisioned it, but the inaugural Loudoun Arts Film Festival is about to get underway next week with a mix of virtual and drive-in events happening over the next several weeks.

The film festival will feature a number of movies and short films that appeal to just about anyone, said co-founder Kaeley Boyle, an Ashburn, Virginia, native.

Boyle said the growth and change seen in Loudoun County over the years has led to more demand for events like this.

“We’ve been hearing things from the community that they want something like this in terms of the arts,” said Boyle, who is also the creative director at Artistic Fuel and serves on the board of the Loudoun Arts Council.

But Boyle said she had to get creative in a different sense since the traditional film viewing experience is still a no-go this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next week, the festival begins virtually, and people have the chance to rent the films they want to watch at their leisure at home. Then, for seven nights in September, some of the featured films will be shown under the stars at 50 West Vineyards in Middleburg.

“When we were scouting for places, usually when you go to a brewery or winery, you don’t like scout out the parking lot to see the shape in which it’s made,” said Boyle. “We drove into 50 West and were like, ‘yeah’, not only does it have a gravel lot that’s rectilinear, it’s also this field that’s adjacent to it that’s on a slope.”

That’s where a 40-foot screen will be set up so people can watch from their cars.

In addition to movies, the opening night on Sept. 12 also features two hours of live music, making the film fest more of an “art experience,” Boyle said.

On the first night, the featured films include “Skin,” a 2019 Oscar-winning short film, followed by “The Subject,”  which stars Jason Biggs, of “American Pie” and “Orange is the New Black.” It’s a role Boyle thinks could net Biggs an Oscar next year.

The film festival wraps up Sept. 19 with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme.”

“Getting this off the ground and doing it in this time is just indicative of the team we have together,” said Boyle. “Having a respite from everything that’s going on while keeping everyone safe — that’s a huge success for me.”

Boyle said she’ll consider the festival a success “if we can be able to really create something that gives people an ability to take a moment, take a breath, get out of their house and be able to be together as a community while still keeping everyone’s safety in mind.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the hours of live music on opening night. 


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