Virginia Film Festival returns with ‘Glass Onion,’ ‘Devotion,’ ‘Women Talking’

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Virginia Film Fest (Part 1)

Would you like an early look at this season’s biggest Oscar contenders? From Wednesday through Sunday, the 35th annual Virginia Film Festival returns to Charlottesville, Virginia.

Senior programmer Ilya Tovbis told WTOP that Charlottesville is “a beautiful town,” with plenty of breweries and wineries to hang out in when you’re not watching movies. “I hope you join us for conversations, for films, many of which will be buzzy titles hitting the awards scene.”

The festival will host a few events at the University of Virginia, but most of the screenings will be held in historic downtown Charlottesville, including at the Paramount Theater.

It kicks off Wednesday with Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” “It is a stand-alone sequel, you do not need to have seen the first one, although I encourage you to do so,” Tovbis said. “With the exception of Daniel Craig’s southern sleuth, Benoit Blanc, it is pretty much an all new cast, completely different venue, much larger in many ways.”

Thursday will honor Jonathan Majors (“Lovecraft Country”) with a Q&A and screening of “Devotion,” which follows Jesse Brown, the U.S. Navy’s first African American aviator.

“It’s a little known story, but I think this film will rectify that. He deserves all the acclaim and acknowledgment… I think it’ll give ‘Maverick’ a run for its money,” Tovbis said.

Friday brings Maria Schrader’s journalism drama “She Said,” starring Carrie Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, the New York Times reporters who exposed Harvey Weinstein’s yearslong history of sexual misconduct. “It’s very ‘Spotlight’ in nature, but a more current scandal with important storytelling, beautifully done,” Tovbis said.

Saturday brings Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Frances McDormand and Judith Ivey, who will attend. “This is based on a book about a real-life Mennonite community and a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the community. Being tight-knit, the women of the community come together.”

It all wraps Sunday with Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light,” starring Olivia Colman, Michael Ward and Colin Firth. “It’s a beautiful way to end the festival because it is a beautifully nostalgic tale of the role that movie theaters have in bringing together a community. At a moment when we are hopefully emerging out of the pandemic, it’s hard to think of a more fitting film.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Virginia Film Fest (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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