Film festival says 2017 was a success

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Virginia Film Festival says 44 of its more than 150 movie screenings were sold out.

This was the 30th year for the annual festival that takes place on the Downtown Mall and in other locations around Charlottesville.

Festival officials say almost 30,200 tickets were issued to free and paid events, with ticket sale revenue coming in at $187,178.

"Each year, we set out to create a festival program this is as deep as it is wide," said Jody Kielbasa, the festival's director. "And that engages our remarkably committed audiences while inspiring meaningful and lasting conversations around issues that are vitally important to us all."

This year, the festival had a series called Race in America that was presented in conjunction with James Madison's Montpelier.

The centerpiece of the series was Spike Lee's visit for a moderated conversation before the screenings of two of his films.

Other films focused on history, LGBTQIA+ issues, teen bullying and many other themes.

"The degree to which we saw audiences respond to very disparate and diverse areas of the program with such a high level of enthusiasm was really impressive," said VFF Programmer Wesley Harris. "From international films to films based around social issues to locally-themed fare and beyond, I think the program inspired a strong and enthusiastic turnout, and that is something I attribute directly to the appetite and intellect of our audiences."

Top actors, filmmakers, writers and experts were on scene to talk about their work and issues related to the movies, including William H. Macy, Noel Fisher, John Lee Hancock, and Margot Lee Shetterly.

According to a release, audience also played a key role this year by casting ballots for their favorite films.

This year's VFF Audience Award Winners are "Last Flag Flying" for Narrative Feature, "An Act of Terror" for Narrative Short, "Roll with me" for Documentary Feature, and "The Ruination of Lovell Coleman" for Documentary Short.

The 2017 Programmer's Awards went to "November" for Narrative Feature, "The Real Thing" for Narrative Short, "Serenade for Haiti" for Documentary Feature, and "Edith+Eddie" for Documentary Short.

More than 2,800 people also attended the VFF Family Day, and more than 500 local students from 11 schools screened their original films.

For more information on the Virginia Film Festival, click on the link in the Related Links box.

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