Could you pick a better place for a film festival than Middleburg? Especially in autumn, the brick sidewalks lined with festivalgoers bustling about underneath the changing colors of canopies? You may keep your seaside Cannes and your mountainous Telluride. I’ll take the brisk breeze and the rustic comfort of Middleburg any day.
But you’ve already made the decision to attend the film festival, haven’t you? In that case, we thought we’d share the many films, their showtimes, and duration to help you plan out your trip to really get the most out of all this Festival and lovely town have to offer. Consider bookmarking this page so that you can find it in a pinch, and please share it with your festivalgoing friends.
Below are the films in alphabetical order as well as our selections for local attractions (go there now). Maybe you’ll see a copy of our September/October “Arts Issue” on newsstands.
Battle of the Sexes
Showtime(s): Sunday, 11 a.m., The Hill School
Runtime: 121 + Q&A
It was billed as the “Battle of the Sexes,” pitting women’s world champion Billie Jean King (Academy Award-winner Emma Stone) former men’s champion and self-proclaimed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). Join directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton for a Q&A following this special screening which features a score by this year’s composer honoree, Nicholas Britell.
Showtime(s): Thursday, 4 p.m., Middleburg Community Center
Length: 117 minutes
Actor Andy Serkis makes his directorial debut with the remarkable true story of Robin, a dashing ex-British Army officer, and his beautiful aristocratic wife, Diana. Seeking adventure, the young couple travel to Kenya, where Robin, contracts polio, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Despite a devastating diagnosis giving her husband weeks to live, Diana refuses to give up hope.
Call Me By Your Name
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 10:30 a.m., Salamander Resort and Spa | Saturday, 5:15 p.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 132 minutes
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, this is a stunningly beautiful and transcendent tale of first love. It’s the summer of 1983. Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old American boy is summering with his parents in a northern Italian villa. Everything changes with the arrival of Oliver (Armie Hammer), his professor father’s handsome and charming researcher. Based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman.
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 7:30 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa | Saturday, 8:15 p.m., The Hill School
Runtime: 125 minutes
May 1940. Hitler’s army is rapidly advancing across Europe. With German soldiers days away from British shores, Winston Churchill (a magnificent Gary Oldman) is appointed Prime Minister of England. He faces fierce resistance from Parliament pushing him to negotiate with the seemingly unstoppable enemy forces. Dramatic scenes unfold in this suspenseful thriller.
Showtime(s): Friday, 10 a.m., Middleburg Community Center | Saturday, 3 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 89 minutes
Named Best Documentary at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Faces Places is a delightful and unlikely collaboration between legendary filmmaker Agnes Varda, age 89, and a 33-year-old street photographer who goes by JR. They roam the French countryside in a large van (which also serves as a mobile photo booth), stopping in small villages, creating life-size portraits, and engaging in conversation with local residents.
A Fantastic Woman
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 3 p.m., Middleburg Community Center | Sunday, 4 p.m., The Hill School
Runtime: 103 minutes
Chilean Director Sebastien Lelio (Gloria) has crafted a heart-wrenching portrait of Marina, a woman vilified by society, yet possessing a fierce resilience and determination in the face of profound loss. When her 57-year-old lover dies suddenly. Marina is forbidden to attend his funeral and is physically assaulted and humiliated by his son. Featuring the talented transgender actress, Daniela Vega as Marina, this masterpiece is Chile’s foreign language submission to the Oscars.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Showtime(s): Friday, 2 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa | Sunday, 1:30 p.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 105 minutes
When Peter Turner was a young aspiring actor, he embarked on a passionate romance with Gloria Grahame, an eccentric, much older, faded Hollywood starlet. Four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott) are perfectly cast in this poignant adaption of Turner’s memoir about his unorthodox May-December love story.
Showtime(s): Friday, 7:30 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 107 minutes
Director Michael Haneke won the Palme D’Or and Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2012 for his film Amour. Five years later, he returns with his latest film and sequel: a dark, ironic, irreverent comedy. The bourgeois Laurent family are living in a mansion in Calais, France, as the city’s refugee crisis is growing out of control in
Austria’s submission to the Oscars.
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 8:15 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa
Runtime: 127 minutes
Set in 1892, this film tells the story of legendary Army Captain (Christian Bale), who reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape and hostile forces they encounter along the way.
Showtime(s): Saturday, 9:30 a.m., Salamander Resort and Spa | Sunday, 4 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa
Runtime: 121 minutes
After O.J Simpson., she may be the most famous villain in the sports world. In 1994, Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) made headlines around the world when she was accused of helping mastermind the brutal attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan. Director Craig Gillespie’s dark comedy is sensational, a surprising and highly entertaining account of the rise and ultimate demise of Tonya Harding.
In the Fade
Showtime(s): Friday, 12:45 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum | Saturday, 12 p.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 105 minutes
In this gripping revenge thriller, Katja’s life changes instantly when her husband and son suddenly die in a bombing. The police arrest two suspects: a young neo-Nazi couple. Coping with overwhelming grief, Katija seeks justice no matter what it takes. Diane Kruger, appearing in her first German-language film, received the Best Actress prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Faith Atkins, this is Germany’s submission to the Oscars.
Showtime(s): Friday, 1 p.m., The Hill School | Sunday, 10:15 a.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 90 minutes
As a child, Jane Goodall dreamed of going to Africa and living with the animals. At the age of 26, Goodall’s dream came true when she arrived in a remote area of northern Tanzania to study the chimpanzees. Spectacular 16 mm footage, recently discovered in the National Geographic archives, paints a riveting portrait of trailblazing conservationist Jane Goodall.
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
Showtime(s): Saturday (with Q&A), 3:15 p.m., The Hill School | Sunday, 2 p.m., The Hill School
Runtime: 92 minutes
For more than 50 years, literary icon Joan Didion has chronicled the ebb and flow of America’s cultural and political tides—as well as her own personal story, struggles, and life changes. Using a treasure trove of never before seen archival footage, her nephew (actor Griffin Dunne) has crafted an extraordinary and intimate documentary about his “Aunt Joan.”
Showtime(s): Saturday (with Q&A), 8:15 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa | Sunday, 1:45 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa
Runtime: 93 minutes
This uproarious comedy is the impressive directorial debut of actress Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha). Gerwig also penned the script for this coming-of-age story starring a perfectly cast Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn). “Lady Bird” is the name Christine, a high school senior at an all-girls Catholic high school in Sacramento, prefers to be called. A terrific ensemble cast including Laurie Metcalfe, Tracey Letts, Lucas Hedges, and Beanie Feldstein make this film one to remember.
Last Flag Flying
Showtime(s): Friday (with discussion), 5:15 p.m., Middleburg Community Center | Saturday, 10 a.m., The Hill School
Runtime: 124 minutes
Directed by Richard Linklater and featuring the triple threat team of Bryan Cranston as hard-drinking Sal, Steve Carell as former Navy medic “Doc,” and Laurence Fishburne as the measured Reverend Mueller, this moving story exposes the torments of war that ravage veterans. Thirty years after serving together in Vietnam, they’re reunited over a personal tragedy; Doc’s son, a young Marine, has been killed in the Iraq invasion. Doc wants to bring him home, but he needs the help of his old war buddies to help him.
Showtime(s): Friday, 8 p.m., The Hill School | Saturday, 8 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 127 minutes
Russia’s Oscar submission is a riveting tale of a failed marriage and a missing child that’s also a powerful allegory for post-Soviet Russia and today’s society-at-large. As the marriage of salesman Boris and hard-edged salon owner Zhenya unravels, their 12-year-old son Alyosha absorbs the pain of the bitter break-up. When the boy suddenly vanishes without a trace, the couple has no choice but to unite in his rescue.
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 3 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum | Saturday (with Q&A), 8 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 72 minutes
For 30 years, renowned photographer Lynn Davis has turned her camera on the magnificent landscape of Greenland, considered “ground zero” for global warming. Davis returned recently to Greenland with climate change expert Tony Leiserowitz, where they witness the giant icebergs melting before their eyes—and explore the implications for the planet.
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 5 p.m., Salamander Resort and Spa | Saturday, 8:15 p.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 124 minutes
Writer/director Dee Rees’ masterful and epic drama is set in post-World War II Jim Crow Mississippi. Rising Delta floodwaters and simmering racial tensions greet a pair of returning fellow veterans—one white and one black—as they navigate a quagmire of social codes in an unforgiving landscape. The film powerfully depicts the ongoing struggle to extricate American society from a legacy of injustice.
Music Got Me Here
Showtime(s): Saturday (with Q&A), 12:45 p.m., The Hill School | Sunday (with Q&A), 4 p.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 90 minutes
In a freak snowboarding accident, Middleburg resident Forrest Allen suffers a traumatic brain injury that leaves him unable to speak or walk for nearly two years. Desperate to keep their son connected to the world, his parents reach out to Tom Sweitzer, Forrest’s former music teacher who’s just received a degree in music therapy. Tom credits music with saving his own life, and he’s determined to help Forrest find his voice.
Showtime(s): Saturday (with Q&A), 2:15 p.m., Middleburg Community Center | Sunday, 12:45 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 118 minutes
Writer/director Maggie Betts’ feature debut is a coming-of-age story about Cathleen, a teenage girl who falls “in love” with God. Set in the 1960s as the Catholic Church is roiled by the reforms of Vatican II, Cathleen and her sister novitiates are confronted with an institution in turmoil, and as they wrestle with issues of faith, passion, and devotion.
The Divine Order
Showtime(s): Friday, 10:30 a.m., National Sporting Library and Museum | Saturday, 12:30 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 96 minutes
In 1970, the feminist movement in the U.S. is in full swing. In Switzerland, women still can’t vote, their politicians and clergy explaining that it’s simply The Divine Order. A provincial village outside Zurich becomes an unlikely battleground for women’s suffrage. At the forefront is Nora, an unassuming housewife and mother of two young boys. Defying her husband, she takes to the streets, leading the local women in a strike.
The Leisure Seeker
Showtime(s): Friday, 8:15 p.m., Middleburg Community Center | Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 112 minutes
John, a retired high school English teacher, has lost much of his memory, but can still quote Hemingway and James Joyce. Ella, a spunky, transplanted Southerner with the gift of gab, is battling cancer. Now, facing an uncertain future, they sneak off for one last road trip in their beloved RV, nicknamed “The Leisure Seeker”. Directed by Paolo Virzi and featuring acting virtuosos Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, this is a poignant tale of an unlikely relationship.
The Other Side of Hope
Showtime(s): Friday, 5:45 p.m., The Hill School | Saturday, 5:30 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 101 minutes
Acclaimed Finnish Director Aki Kaurismaki brings his droll humor to the interwoven stories of two men living in Helsinki. Wikstrom, a middle-aged salesman, wins big at poker, leaves his wife, and buys a rundown restaurant. Khaled, a Syrian refugee arrives by coal freighter, seeking asylum. He’s met with indifference my immigration and threatened by local street thugs. Eventually, these two disparate characters cross paths.
Showtime(s): Friday, 12 p.m., Middleburg Community Center | Sunday, 3:30 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum
Runtime: 145 minutes
Ruben Ostulund, director of the wildly popular Force Majeure, delivers a no-holds-barred satire set in the contemporary art world. Christian, a renowned curator, is full of good intentions, but things derail when his latest museum installation doesn’t measure up to its PR hype. This film is the winner of the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival as well as Sweden’s submission to the Oscars.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Showtime(s): Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Salamander Resort and Spa
Runtime: 115 minutes
Mildred Hayes (the incomparable Frances McDormand) is outraged that months have passed and there’s still no arrest for her daughter’s murder. The tough-as-nails Hayes takes matters into her own hands by arranging for three huge billboards to be put up just outside of town with a pointed message for the widely admired chief of police, Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).
Under the Tree
Showtime(s): Friday (with Q&A), 5 p.m., National Sporting Library and Museum | Saturday, 10 a.m., Middleburg Community Center
Runtime: 89 minutes
The shade from the area’s only tree is the cause of a simmering feud between two neighboring families living in the suburbs of Iceland. The tree’s proud owners won’t trim its branches which cast a large shadow on their neighbor’s backyard, where the woman of the house likes to sunbathe. Tempers flare and things soon spin wildly out of control in this absurd, astute, and absolutely hilarious dark comedy which is also Iceland’s submission to the Oscars.
Showtime(s): Friday, 3:15 p.m., The Hill School | Saturday, 5:45 p.m., The Hill School
Runtime: 115 minutes
Director Todd Haynes (Carol) Intertwines the stories of two star-aligned deaf runaway children separated by generations, weaving a tale of wonder and hope, In 1928, Rose escapes her New Jersey home to find her missing screen-star mother in bustling New York City. Fifty years later, following a tragedy, young Ben makes the same trek on a bus from Minneapolis to New York in this film based on author Brian Selznick’s book of the same name.
The Local Spots
What differentiates a film festival from its peers? Sure, the roster of films is a major factor. Then there are the events and panels. Perhaps the stature of the celebrities with whom you’ll get to rub elbows. But more than any of those factors, it’s the location. Location, location, location, right? And not just the natural beauty of autumn or the rustic homeliness of Middleburg, but the stores, restaurants, and attractions too! There’s so much to explore, and this list is by no means comprehensive, but will give you—we hope—some landmarks and Middleburg staples to ground yourself.
Middleburg Common Grounds is more than a family-owned coffee shop, although it is that, too. It’s a gathering place, a hub to relax in the beauty of autumn on their patio, and where I’m writing this blog post from while looking out over the bustle of my hometown’s street. The food is spectacular; start your day with a delicious breakfast sandwich, or stop by around lunch to try their signature Federal: slow-roasted turkey with bacon, provolone, spinach, and tangy chipotle aioli on a ciabatta. They have a wonderful wine and beer menu, but if you’re looking for bona fide Middleburg dive bar with beers on tap and motorcycles parked out front, hop over next door to Red Horse Tavern.
Middleburg’s food scene is lovely as well. You can’t go wrong with Harrimans Grill at Salamander, and you wouldn’t even have to leave the Festival’s home base to enjoy dishes such as pastry chef (and Food Network winner) Jason Reaves’ basil and honey dessert (pictured) paired with the perfect wine as chosen by sommelier Michael Foote.
In the mood for global flavors? Well, Middleburg has not one, but two, Thai restaurants (Best Thai Kitchen and ThaiVerse) as well as French haute cuisine from Julien’s and New American by Red Fox Inn, a Middleburg classic that has housed foreign dignitaries, silver-screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, and even a weary, teenaged George Washington.
Oh, right. The wine. There’s a lot of it, both in Middleburg and in the surrounding area, the Middleburg American Viticultural Association. Greenhill’s wines are cherished, and the venue itself is a fantastic place to experience the region’s unlimited beauty. Cana Vineyards, Boxwood Vineyards, Chrysalis Vineyards … there are really no bad choices. Add to the mix nearby Purcellville, which is teeming with breweries. Taking a break from the theater and getting outside, libation in hand, is a must for any filmgoer (who is over 21 years of age, that is).