Middleburg Film Festival Announces 'Darkest Hour' As Opening Night Film, Greta Gerwig's 'Lady Bird' As Centerpiece

For the fifth year in a row, the Middleburg Film Festival has gathered an impressive assortment of festival darlings and legit Academy Award contenders, making this the go-to festival for local cinephiles eager to catch the season's top titles. Newly announced as the Opening Night film on October 19th is the WWII drama Darkest Hour, from director Joe Wright (Atonement) and featuring a lead performance by Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Oldman is already being hailed as a likely Best Actor contender.

On hand for a discussion afterwards will be co-star Ben Mendelsohn, who plays King George VI, plus screenwriter Anthony McCarten and producer Lisa Bruce.

Greta Gerwig will be in attendance as her acclaimed directorial debut Lady Bird will be the special Centerpiece Film on Saturday, October 21st. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Timothee Chalamet, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, and Beanie Feldstein.

Martin McDonagh's dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starring Frances McDormand will be the Sunday Centerpiece feature.  The Margot Robbie-led Tonya Harding drama I, Tonya will be one of three Spotlight movies this year, along with Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name (review here) and Dee Rees' southern drama Mudbound (review here), seen by many as the early favorite for Best Picture.

And this is just the start of what is shaping up to be the festival's strongest year yet. I've always felt a strong connection to Middleburg and have been happy to watch it quickly grow into, by far, the best festival in the area. It'll be my pleasure to have a deeper involvement with them this year, hosting a panel along with some of my BFCA/WAFCA colleagues. More info on that as it emerges.

The Middleburg Film Festival runs from October 19th-22nd. For tickets visit the website here.  The full press release is below.

The Fifth Annual Middleburg Film Festival Announces 
DARKEST HOUR as Opening Night Film and
LADY BIRD as the Saturday Evening Centerpiece
2017 Festival to Pay Tribute to Filmmakers James Ivory and 
Dee Rees and Composer Nicholas Britell
Middleburg, VA, September 27, 2017 - The Middleburg Film Festival announced today the riveting wartime drama DARKEST HOUR, starring Academy Award©-nominated actor Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, will open the festival on Thursday, October 19. Actor Ben Mendelsohn, who portrays King George VI, screenwriter Anthony McCarten, and producer Lisa Bruce will participate in a conversation following the screening.  
Middleburg Film Festival, now in its fifth year, runs from October 19 to October 22 in Virginia's historic wine country located one hour from Washington, DC.
LADY BIRD, the impressive directorial debut of actress Greta Gerwig (FRANCES HA), will screen as the Saturday Evening Centerpiece Film on October 21 with Gerwig in attendance. Gerwig also penned the script of this uproarious comedy starring a perfectly cast Saoirse Ronan. LADY BIRD's terrific ensemble also includes Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, and Beanie Feldstein. 
On Sunday, October 22, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (DIR Martin McDonagh) will be featured as the Sunday Centerpiece Film. The film, starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage, is a darkly comedic drama about a bereaved mother who demands accountability from the town sheriff.
This year, the Festival has selected three Spotlight Films: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (DIR Luca Guadagnino) and MUDBOUND (DIR Dee Rees) will screen on Friday, October 20; and I, TONYA (DIR Craig Gillespie) will screen on Saturday, October 21.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in a sun-soaked romance set in Northern Italy.  MUDBOUND, set in the Jim Crow South and starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Mary J. Blige, tells the epic story of two men divided by race yet bound by war.  I, TONYA features Margot Robbie as the infamous skater Tonya Harding in the scandal that rocked the 1994 Winter Olympics and ended her skating career.
The 2017 Festival will recognize three artists and their contributions to films and filmmaking. On Friday, October 21, James Ivory, screenwriter of CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and half of the iconic Merchant/Ivory filmmaking duo, will be honored with the 2017 Legacy Award for 60 years as director and/or screenwriter of such classic films as HOWARD'S END, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, and ROOM WITH A VIEW. Dee Rees, director of MUDBOUND, BESSIE and PARIAH, will receive the 2017 Visionary Award on October 21, presented by Lee Daniels (THE BUTLER, EMPIRE).
Academy Award©-nominated composer Nicholas Britell will be honored as this year's Distinguished Film Composer on Saturday, October 21. The Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra presents a selection of his most memorable scores accompanied by film clips.  Britell will perform two solo piano pieces and also discuss his creative process. Britell's scores include BATTLE OF THE SEXES, MOONLIGHT, THE BIG SHORT, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (BATTLE OF THE SEXES) will introduce Britell.  
"The Middleburg Film Festival marks our fifth year with an extraordinary slate of films and special guests," said Middleburg Film Festival Executive Director Susan Koch. "We're especially delighted to welcome three incredibly talented female directors - Dee Rees, Greta Gerwig, and Valerie Faris. We're also pleased to honor James Ivory, not only for his recent achievement with CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, but for sixty years of stunning filmmaking."
"From the very beginning, it's been important for us to present diverse voices in filmmaking," said Middleburg Film Festival founder Sheila C. Johnson, "Especially in these divisive times, films have a way of bringing people together, expanding our understanding of the world and encouraging dialogue. The festival also celebrates some of the film industry's unsung heroes.  One of my favorite events is our Symphony Orchestra concert honoring a renowned film composer - and this year we are thrilled to recognize Nicholas Britell."
The Coca-Cola Company returns as Middleburg Film Festival's Presenting Sponsor.
The Washington Post is the founding media sponsor.  
For showtimes and festival information, please visit: www.middleburgfilm.org or download the mobile app for iphone or android
Follow us on Twitter @middleburgfilm and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/MiddleburgFilmFestival.

About Middleburg Film Festival
Middleburg Film Festival offers four days of fantastic films in a spectacular setting, only 30 minutes from Dulles International Airport and just one hour from Washington, D.C.
A carefully curated selection of narrative and documentary films will screen in an intimate theatre environment, followed by fascinating Q and A's with world-renowned filmmakers and actors. The films include Oscar contenders, festival favorites, foreign films, regional premieres, and both narratives and documentaries.  
Festival attendees will also be able to experience the natural beauty, food, wine, and warm hospitality of Middleburg.