The 12th Annual Alexandria Film Festival Comes to Old Town This Weekend

Jordan Wright
November 7, 2018

The 12th Annual Alexandria Film Festival will bring over 70 films to area film enthusiasts from November 8-11.  For followers of this festival, it just gets better every year.  Expect to see shorts, documentaries and indie films that may never hit mainstream theaters, but may have debuted at film festivals around the country.  Talk with hot new filmmakers who are enjoying media buzz.

The celebration begins Thursday, Nov. 8 with a free program of six short films, screening outdoors at Waterfront Park in Old Town.  The Free Flowing Musical Experience will kick things off at 6:30pm, with shorts beginning at 7pm with free popcorn for the first 100 guests.

AMC Hoffman 22 Theater on Eisenhower Avenue and Beatley Central Library on Duke Street will serve as the principal venues.  More than 60 filmmakers will be in attendance presenting their films over the festival weekend.  See full program details at www.AlexFilmFest.com

Ticketed shows can be found at www.AlexFilmFest.Eventbrite.com for $12. or $15. at the door.  An All-Fest Pass is also available for $50. at www.AlexFilmFest.Eventbrite.com or for $70. at the door.

With more than 50 premieres of short and feature-length films, the festival features films from around the world including Canada, France, India, Lebanon, Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, the U.K., and the U.S.  Local filmmakers will screen new work and several directors, producers, actors and crew members will take questions from the audience after each screening. We love talkbacks!

Free screenings at Beatley Central Library are on Friday, November, 10th from 10:30am - 5:30pm at 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria.

Ticketed screenings at AMC Hoffman Theater 22 are on Saturday and Sunday, November 10th and 11th at 206 Swamp Fox Road, Alexandria.  Tickets are available at www.AlexFilmFest.Eventbrite.com.

Highlights include:

  • Burke and Herbert Bank Family Showcase - Features five premieres for, by, or about younger viewers and their families, presented by nine filmmakers including the grand prizewinner in the national video contest “Lights, Camera, Save.”
  • Salute to Service Members Showcase - Features four films, including three premieres on Veterans Day Weekend. Veterans and active service members will be honored with free admittance plus one guest to this showcase.  First come, first served. Guaranteed seating must be made through advance purchase online.
  • Two “Film Noir” Showcases - Extend the season’s Halloween chills with these thrillers.
  • Meant to be Broken” is a clever “dramedy” about a mild-mannered guy who has never broken a rule, while he tries to cope with some very bad news by breaking them all. Q&A following with D.C. filmmaker Jonathan Zuck.
  • The Makeover” is about a conservative policy wonk who learns to embrace his feminine, alter ego, Giselle. Q&A with Alexandria Filmmaker Jane Pittman and Giselle Donnelly.  World premiere.
  • Hunting Lands” is a story about a veteran-turned-recluse who witnesses the aftermath of a heinous crime and takes justice into his own hands. A Virginia premiere that will keep you guessing!
  • Trickster” - A man’s life is forever changed when he meets a beautiful young woman who needs help. A ‘Twilight Zone’ meets ‘Inception’ thriller.  East coast premiere.  Q&A with filmmaker Jamie Paolinetti.
  • American Exploitation: The Slaves Among Us” – Investigates sex trafficking in suburban America.  Q&A with filmmakers Benjamin Brothers and John Carter.  World premiere.
  • American Relapse” – An inside look at the heroin epidemic in Southern Florida and the corrupt underground “rehabilitation” industry that sprung up, not to combat but to profit. Q&A with filmmaker Pat McGee.
  • Iron Orchard” - Virginia Premiere of an epic rise and fall of a Texas oilman torn between love and ambition. Q&A with filmmaker Camille Chambers.

The festival concludes with an awards ceremony and closing reception on Sunday, November 18th.

Charlottesville: Our Streets ~ A Documentary by Jackson Landers and Brian Wimer

Jordan Wright for the Alexandria Times
April 9, 2018 

Photo credit: by Jackson Landers and Brian Wimer

Last Sunday at the Beatley Library in Alexandria the Board of the Alexandria Film Festival invited filmmaker Jackson Landers to appear at a screening of his powerful new documentary Charlottesville: Our Streets.

Jackson Landers takes questions at the Alexandria screening of his film. Photo credit Jordan Wright

Using never-before-seen footage from citizen journalists, Landers and co-producer and film editor Brian Wimer constructed the movie in timeline fashion beginning with the tiki torch-wielding Neo-Nazi march on August 11, 2017 at the University of Virginia through the following days’ activities in Charlottesville where thousands of white nationalists converged from around the country to protest the expected removal of a statue to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Dubbed Charlottesville “Summer of Hatred”, the violent “Unite the Right” rally brought alt-right, neo-Nazi, neo-Fascist and Ku Klux Klan groups together in a show of force unprecedented in a rural university town.  They were armed to the teeth with knives, guns, pepper spray, chains, bats, shields and tear gas, shouting “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil”.  The police stood down.

Charlottesville native, Landers, who writes for Slate, Smithsonian Magazine, The Daily Beast, Rewire.News and the Washington Post, and who conducts a Monday evening round table radio show on WPVC-FM, describes himself as an author and hunter who travels around the country hunting and eating invasive species.  He’s even written a book about his adventures entitled “Eating Aliens” and appeared on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  This is his first film – finished in two months to beat the entry deadline for this year’s Virginia Film Festival.  He made it as a way of setting down a record of the events.  “This isn’t an activist film,” he explained.  “I just wanted to show what happened.”

Photo credit: by Jackson Landers and Brian Wimer

The homegrown 90-minute film gives a chronological account of the events leading up to and during the rally and marches in Charlottesville.  With no filmmaking experience of his own, Landers admitted his most difficult challenge was finding someone to put all the pieces together (he found Wimer) and conduct video interviews with counter protestors and local residents who had experienced a terrifying outpouring of anti-Semitic and racial hatred in their rural university town.  Having been pepper sprayed five times while in the thick of it, he witnessed the two-day events, including the fatal crash on Fourth Street and that of the fatal downing of a police helicopter.  While he and Wimer are still tweaking the film based on audience reaction, the filmmakers claim to have verified every statement given by witnesses.  Remarks that could not be proven, were edited out, though many video clips of interviews as well as remarks by Cornell West in the lead up to the rally are included.  Thirty cameras spread out across the area, give the documentary both extensive coverage and an intense immediacy.

Landers also spoke about the aftermath of the bloody events in Charlottesville.  He has continued to seek FOIA documents through the courts in regards to the police activity, as well as their strategy, but finds himself up against an army of lawyers.

Photo credit: by Jackson Landers and Brian Wimer

Attendees were afforded a Q & A with Landers after Sunday’s screening.  Several who had been at the rally wanted to know why it wasn’t shown that counter protesters were assaulted on side streets on their way to the rally.  Landers said, “The genesis of the film was to show the perspective of the people of Charlottesville,” and suggested there would be other films that would approach it from different perspectives.  One attendee, who cited a CIA report calling 9/11 “ a failure of imagination” by security forces, saw the hands off approach by the University and the Virginia State Police as the same problem.  It’s been reported that a police captain told his force to prepare for an event similar to the annual UVA “block party”.

Although this seminal event that resulted in the deaths of counter protester Heather Heyer and two police helicopter pilots, as well as dozens of injuries, did result in the subsequent removal of countless Civil War statues and confederate flags around the South, the bottom line is, could this happen in our town?  And the answer is yes.

One of the more familiar faces of the white supremacists movement, Richard Spencer, lives in the heart of Old Town.  As they did on that fateful day, he and cohort David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, organize these rallies and give fiery speeches to their followers.  Last Sunday, sitting quietly in the audience was Spencer associate and National Policy Institute’s Director of Operations, Greg Conte, aka Greg Ritter.  He has been quoted as saying he plans to start his own white nationalist movement.  Stay woke, Alexandria.