Charlottesville, VA – June 18, 2019 – The Virginia Film Festival has announced that it had engaged a team of experienced and accomplished guest programmers to assist VAFF Director Jody Kielbasa, Assistant Programmer Chandler Ferrebee, and the VAFF team for the upcoming 2019 Festival. Heading up the team will be Senior Guest Programmers Andrew Rodgers, former head of RiverRun International Film Festival and the Denver Film Society, and his wife, the veteran film producer, educator, and programmer Iana Dontcheva.
The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University of Virginia, with support from the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.
Rodgers and Dontcheva will head up a team of guest programmers that will include indigenous artist and filmmaker Federico Cuatlacual, Another Slave Narrative filmmaker Michelle Jackson, filmmaker and programmer Joe Fab, international film scholar and curator Samhita Sunya, and new media artist and scholar Mona Kasra
Andrew Rodgers is a writer, filmmaker, programmer, and arts executive, based in Denver, Colorado. He led the Denver Film Society from 2016-2019 and the RiverRun International Film Festival from 2006-2016. He previously worked as a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune and a publicist for the Sundance Film Festival. Crooked Candy, a documentary short Rodgers directed, screened at the 2014 Virginia Film Festival.
Iana Dontcheva is a filmmaker, film scholar, and programmer working in the United States and Europe. Through her Paris-based production company, she has produced narrative and documentary features, shorts, and series, experimental videos, animation clips, and commercials. Her films have played in numerous festivals around the world, most notably Cannes, Venice, and Berlin as well as the Telluride, Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago Film Festivals. She has served as a programming consultant for the RiverRun International Film Festival, a guest curator for the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), and a visiting professor at Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and the University of Colorado.
“Having led the RiverRun International Film Festival just a few hours south of Charlottesville for 11 years,” Rodgers said, “I was very familiar with the Virginia Film Festival and long admired the work of Jody and his team. In particular, I have always appreciated the Festival’s seriousness of purpose and the magnificent way it frames each film presentation. In addition to showcasing the best new films from around the world, its university home gives the Festival access to the great faculty and departments and initiatives the University of Virginia offers. We really look forward to working with the VAFF team and a truly extraordinary group of guest programmers to continue the Virginia Film Festival’s rich tradition of excellent programming.”
“I have always been very impressed with the audiences I have encountered at the Virginia Film Festival,“ Dontcheva said. “They are incredibly engaged, diverse, and responsive to the great mix of screenings and conversations. This is a great, and meaningful opportunity, and I am excited to return to help create the kind of deep and expansive program for which the Festival has become known throughout the industry.”
“We are very excited to welcome Andrew and Illa and this extraordinary talented group of programming talent to support our efforts this year,” said Kielbasa. “We feel that their diverse experiences and points of view will allow us to continue to expand our scope as a festival and to achieve our dual goals of spotlighting world class filmmaking and reflecting as wide a range of important issues and perspectives as possible and using the unique medium of film to inspire important conversations in our world.”
Michelle Jackson is the creator, writer, and director of the film Another Slave Narrative, which was featured in the 2018 Virginia Film Festival and is built around retellings of original interviews included in the Slave Narrative Collection of 1936-38. She first discovered her passion for storytelling while studying at Harvard Divinity School where she began to compete in poetry slam competitions. Shortly after, she discovered a love for filmmaking at Vassar College. Michelle is a writer, director, film editor, and photographer. A Southern Californian native and a graduate of Harvard University and UCLA, she has studied the intersections of religion, race, sexuality, and gender.
Born in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, Federico Cuatlacuatl is an indigenous artist based in Charlottesville, Virginia. He received his MFA specializing in Digital Arts from the Bowling Green State University in 2015. Federico’s work is invested in disseminating topics of Latinx immigration, social art practice, and cultural sustainability. Building from his own experience growing up as an undocumented immigrant and previously holding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Federico’s research is primarily concerned with pressing realities in current social, political, and cultural issues that Latinx undocumented immigrants face in the U.S. As founder and director of the Rasquache Artist Residency in Puebla, Mexico, he actively stays involved in socially engaged works and binational endeavors.
Samhita Sunya is an Assistant Professor of Cinema in the University of Virginia’s Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Language and Cultures. Her interest span world film history; South / West Asian cinemas; intersections of audio-visual media and literature; and sound studies. She also has a curatorial background in the collaborative administration of film series and festivals. She teaches survey courses and specialized seminars in Middle East – South Asia film histories, in addition to Middle East – South Asia-focused thematic courses on topics such as cinephilia, adaptation, and genre; methods courses in areas such as film programming, sound studies, and film festival studies.
Joe Fab is an Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer with over four decades of experience in film and video production, media, and communications. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, the International Documentary Association, and Women in Film and Video (DC), and is well known for co-directing HBO’s Paper Clips and for producing the premiere presentation of Amazing Peace—a poem by Dr. Maya Angelou—performed the author. Fab’s skill and sensitivity in storytelling have earned broad recognition, including the prestigious Christopher Award for achievements in media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” He is now in production on a feature documentary entitled When My Time Comes, on the subject of medical aid in dying, which he is making with Peabody Award-winning broadcaster Diane Rehm and VFF board member Diane Naughton.
Mona Kasra is a new media artist, scholar, and Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Virginia (UVa). Her work employs, explores, and experiments with existing and emerging media in the context of art making, storytelling and installation, and her research begs political and theoretical questions about the power of visual media in our culture and cross-culturally. She has exhibited work in numerous gallery and online exhibitions and has juried, curated, and programmed for various film festivals and art exhibitions. In 2016, she served as Conference Chair at ACM SIGGRAPH, undertaking an engaged role in the strategic planning, leading, and managing of the world’s largest, most influential annual conference on the theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques.
The 32nd Virginia Film Festival will take place from October 23-27 at venues throughout Charlottesville. For more information on the VAFF, visit virginiafilmfestival.org