The Alexandria Film Festival, which will debut virtually this year Nov. 12-15, announced on Tuesday its 2020 programming of 45 short and feature length fiction and nonfiction films, representing every genre. Topics in the films range from family traditions and unsung artists to stories of survival and union organizing. Stories range from a father suffering through a hilarious Kafkaesque journey trying to make his daughter’s birthday wish come true to a dazzling animated fantasy from Argentina tracing the journey of souls through varying dimensions of existence.
Anchoring the festival’s opening night and its 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration Showcase of films is “9 to 5: The Story of a Movement” by Oscar-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar. The documentary follows a group of office workers in the 1970s that organize a national movement for gender equality in the workplace. The movement inspired the 1980 Hollywood film “9 to 5” starring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin. The 7 pm screening on Nov. 12 will be followed with a live Q&A with one of the principal subjects of the film, Debbie Schneider.
Opening night also brings the D.C. premiere of “Trust Me,” directed by Oscar-nominated Roko Belic. The film takes audiences to the front lines of the worldwide information battle creating an avalanche of negative news and misinformation and creating a gap between how we perceive the world and reality. How do we know what and who we can trust?
“We are thrilled to be able to bring ‘9to5: The Story of a Movement’ and the premiere of ‘Trust Me’ to the greater Washington, D.C. metro area,” said Margaret Wohler, chair of the festival. “Not only can audiences view an amazing slate of films, many of them by artists in our region, but we’re bundling live and pre-recorded Q&A sessions with filmmakers in order to deliver a memorable festival experience.”
Among fiction feature-length titles, “Her Name Was Jo” will screen as part of the festival’s “Girl Power Showcase” on Nov. 14. Described by one judge as “‘Thelma and Louise’ meets ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’” the film’s main character is 10-year-old Jo who spends her days on the Shenandoah River with her best friend Selma, fishing, scrapping for metal — surviving. But when her abusive junkie stepfather dies, Jo decides, Selma in tow, to dump the body, steal the car, and set off across the country in search of her real dad, a legendary folk singer in Los Angeles.
Another standout feature of this year’s festival: women direct nearly half the films. “As our nation celebrates the 19th amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote, we are honoring this milestone of equality by featuring a number of films by women and about women,” said Wohler. “One goal of the festival is to give underrepresented voices in the film world the opportunity to be heard.”
Festival patrons can also look forward to the popular Burke and Herbert Bank Family Showcase, which features films by and about young people. Two “Salute to Service Members” Showcases are offered free of charge to active and retired service members to celebrate the Veteran’s Day Weekend falling on the same dates as the festival. The Sunrise Senior Living Old Town Showcase features a menu of seven short films — including one World Premiere.
Accessing the films online is simple. Viewers can either watch the films as scheduled in the festival program or watch within a two-week period from the time the films are purchased. Either way requires a ticket. Showcase tickets are $12 while an all-festival pass is $50. There are 14 Showcases – blocks of films organized around a theme – and numerous Q&A sessions with film directors, producers, actors and composers. Purchase tickets at https://alexfilmfest.com/.
While virtual, the Alexandria Film Festival relies on the generosity of the Alexandria community, – the city, businesses and residents – for the charitable support needed to conduct the festival. This year’s major sponsors include: Sunrise Senior Living Old Town, Burke & Herbert Bank, Connection Newspapers, Visit Alexandria, Alexandria Living, Alexandria Commission for the Arts, and Alexandria Hyundai. Sponsors make showcases or film blocks possible. The festival also received funding through Spring2Action and ACT for Alexandria.
All festival pass holders in the city of Alexandria will be entered into a drawing for a deluxe movie basket delivered to the winner’s home on opening night. Enjoy popcorn, soda, and candy complements of the festival while enjoying the films. Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates. Use the hashtag #AlexFilmFest to discuss films online. Tickets are available now at https://alexfilmfest.com/.