The Alexandria Film Festival: Celebrating 10 Years
The 10th annual Alexandria Film Fest kicks off tonight, with a line-up of more than 40 international and award-winning local, national, and international films in many genres. Screenings, special events and discussions will take place all over the city.
“The Alexandria Film Festival began as an idea,” says one of the festival’s founders Margaret Wohler. “How can we create a welcoming space in the calendar for not just the film arts and filmmakers, but for the entire Alexandria community to come together and discuss topics in a civil and creative way? We welcomed many local and international filmmakers during those first years and have only grown since then. This year, we offer more than 40 films in high quality professional screening venues with 35 filmmakers attending. ”
As an all-volunteer 501(c)3, the Alexandria Film Festival, “we have totally willed this thing into being,” she says, “with a bleary-eyed staff of volunteers and a few grants, for the the past 10 years. Our thanks to our director and founder, Patti North, for putting in the miles to make it happen!”
Here is Margaret with one of the filmmakers, Claire Ensslin, who came to town during a past festival.
And Margaret with volunteers Kate Kennedy LaPierre, Patti North, and Dara Sanders.
“To pick the line up each year,” says Margaret, “we review ratings from about 50 judges who view the submitted films online and leave feedback. Then we try to group the best ones into “screening blocks” thematically, grouping films that go together. We try to highlight the work of local filmmakers, too.”
Highlights include screening blocks that thematically group films. The screening blocks for this year are a Foodie Showcase, with documentaries focused on the importance of farming, food, and health; a Sports Showcase, with unique stories about athletes; and a music theme with an opening night screening of “Nighthawks on the Blue Highway”, a West Side Story remake featuring the music of Deadmau5, and a documentary that unites cultures and celebrates the joy of international folk dancing.
Margaret shared a few of her top picks such as:
“Girl Flu,” with Dorie Barton, a family comedy.
El Mundo Entero (“The Whole World”) starring Julian Quintanilla (who also wrote and directed the film), a short Spanish-language comedy.
And “Rosenwald” with Stephanie Deutch, a documentary on the incredible story of how businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald joined with African-American communities in the South to build schools for them during the early part of the 20th century.
The festival kicks off Thursday at Market Square with an outdoor screening of “Nighthawks on the Blue Highway,” a documentary tribute to the legendary blues band of the DC metro area, The Nighthawks. Filmmaker Mike Streissguth will be there to lead the Q&A, followed by a concert with the NightHawks. The event ends with the premiere of season two of PBS series, “Mercy Street.”
You can find all films and the schedule, as well as buy tickets on the Alexandria Film Festival website.