Celebrating its 10th year as a major east coast destination for cinema lovers, the Middleburg Film Festival, held in scenic Middleburg, Virginia from October 13th to 16th, continues to highlight an outstanding selection of titles while presenting informative special events and forums. “We’re extremely excited because this year is a true milestone, and it’s a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come as a group, and to celebrate all of the filmmakers who have helped to make the festival a success. We cater to true cinephiles, so it’s not unusual for people to see 10 films over the course of the weekend. And because the festival draws a great mix of Washington DC influencers and people in the film industry, there’s lots of tremendous insight being shared before and after screenings,” says Susan Koch, Executive Director.
The festival is a women-founded and largely women-run organization and prides itself on a robust and diverse programming slate.
The event’s opening night selection is Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise,” and Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” will screen as a Spotlight Film. Rian Johnson’s eagerly anticipated “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and Ray Romano’s directorial debut, “Somewhere in Queens,” have been selected as Centerpiece Screenings.
“There’s no lack of excellent films to showcase. We’re showing 40 films over four days, spread out over four venues, which is the most we’ve ever done. There will be conversations with filmmakers which will be peppered throughout the festival, so there will be lots of choices for guests to make,” says Connie White, Head Programmer.
The closing night selection is Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light,” with actor Michael Ward in attendance to receive the Spotlight Actor Award.
This year, Michael Abels (“Nope,” “Us,” “Get Out”) will be receiving the Distinguished Composer Award, while past composer/songwriter honorees, including Mark Isham, Marco Beltrami, Diane Warren, Kris Bowers, and Charles Fox will return for a special Anniversary Concert. Baumbach will be on hand to receive the 10th Anniversary Spotlight Filmmaker Award, while the “Glass Onion” screening will include a discussion with writer/director Johnson and film editor Bob Ducsay, where they will be presented with the inaugural Variety Creative Collaborators Award, with the conversation taking a look back at their previous work on “Looper,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and “Knives Out.” The festival will also recognize Stephanie Hsu with the Rising Star Award for her breakthrough performance in “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
Outside of the effects of COVID, the growing festival has seen enormous change over the years, and has become an early fall primer for awards season titles. The gorgeous, autumnal atmosphere only adds to the cozy charm of the entire event. “The festival weekend has provided a significant boost for the town of Middleburg and Loudoun County, VA. It’s also brought the community together. This year, the town is helping us celebrate our 10th anniversary by holding 10-days of local events leading up to Opening Night,” says Sheila C. Johnson, Founder and Board Chair.
Screening as the festival’s Saturday Centerpiece film is Romano’s “Somewhere in Queens,” which he also wrote and stars in. The family dramedy and love letter to New York’s largest borough is produced by festival Advisory Board members Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, who will join Romano at the festival to discuss their film following the evening screening. “In 2013, the very first film we screened was Berger and Yerxa’s ‘Nebraska,’ and they’ve been so supportive of us throughout the years, so there’s great symmetry to it all,” says Koch.
The Coca-Cola Company returns as the Festival’s Presenting Sponsor. The Washington Post is the Founding Media Sponsor.