Four years ago Sheila Johnson and Robert Redford stood on the plot of land that is now the Salamander Resort.
As the two stood overlooking the town of Middleburg, Redford told her that she needed to host a film festival.
“The idea of putting this film festival together I have to say was Robert Redford’s,” Johnson said. “I think I’m going to do that but I gotta get the resort built first” she told him.
So here it is, Johnson’s film festival, which she calls a dream of her’s, at the resort she opened just a few months ago, another dream materialized.
The festival will be showing 24 movies from eight different countries across four days, Oct. 24 through Oct. 27.
Movies hail from places like France, Italy, Romania, Turkey, Japan, Chile, the United States and the United Kingdom, covering topics from apartheid in South Africa to Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal to the White House butler.
Johnson told the story of how she originally got the idea of a film festival last night in front of a crowd just before the screening of the festival’s first film, “Nebraska.”
“Nebraska” stars Bruce Dern as Woody Grant, described in the program as “broke, bitter, aged and estranged from his wife and sons.
Dern was in the audience for the screening of the film and answered questions with producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa after the screening.
He might be best known for his portrayal of Capt. Bob Hyde in “Coming Home,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor.
Producers Yerxa and Berger have also produced “Election” and “Little Miss Sunshine” together.
“It’s an honor to be the first film to open up a film festival on the opening night of the first year of that festival,” Yerxa said.
He said he remembers the last time it happened 14 years ago and how special it was.
It was for his movie Election, which is also directed by Alexander Payne.
“This is obviously a more specific, smaller curated film festival, where it is limited in the films that are each carefully chosen,” Yerxa went on to say.
Local filmgoer Ron Bradley says he hopes that the festival and resort will increase attendance at the sporting library across the street and other local businesses in town.
The festival will run Oct. 24-27 and more information is available at middleburgfilm.org.
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