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MULTIMEDIA: ‘Spotlight,’ ‘Harry & Snowman’ take Middleburg Film Fest honors

Gov. Terry McAuliffe kicks-off the third Middleburg Film Festival Oct. 22 next to Salamander Resort and festival founder Sheila Johnson (center) and Visit Loudoun CEO Beth Erickson. Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko
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Centerpiece film “Spotlight” and the documentary “Harry & Snowman” won Middleburg Film Festival audience awards for best narrative and best documentary, respectively.

Festival organizers announced the awards, which were reached through audience ballot, Monday morning.

“We are thrilled with the response to this year’s festival,” said festival executive director Susan Koch. “We’re also very appreciative of the tremendous support we received from everyone – from the filmmakers and distributors to our sponsors to the local Middleburg community."

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The world premiere of Meg Ryan’s directorial debut, “Ithaca,” lured a Middleburg Film Festival record crowd Friday night.

More than 300 people attended the screening at a Salamander Resort and Spa ballroom, with Ryan and 17-year-old “Ithaca” star Alexander Neustaedter on hand for a post-show conversation.

Neustaedter, a Kansas City native, told the Times-Mirror the screening was the first time he saw the movie. Neustaedter said shooting the film and working with Ryan was an unforgettable experience, and he wasn’t nervous for Friday’s unveiling.

A World War II period piece, “Ithaca” features Neustaedter as a message deliveryboy who partners with his widowed mother (Ryan) to raise the family while the eldest son is off to war.

The film also reunites Ryan and Tom Hanks, who serves as both actor and executive producer in the movie.

U.S. Sen. and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine introduced Ryan and film fest founder Sheila Johnson before the show.




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The spotlight was on Middleburg (Va.) Thursday night as the third annual Middleburg Film Fest opened at Salamander Resort and Spa.

A film generating genuine Oscar hype, “Spotlight,” served as the opening day's marquee flick, with a couple hundred festival-goers on hand for the viewing.

Headline guests included Gov. Terry McAuliffe, famed actress Bo Derek and Sheila Johnson, the founder of both Salamander and the film festival.

The “Spotlight” screening was followed with an insightful conversation between Washington Post Editor Marty Baron, film critic Ann Hornaday and one of the film's producers, Steve Golin of Anonymous Content.



Also in attendance was Leesburg resident Fred Schaufeld, an investor of Anonymous Content and "Spotlight," which tells the true story of the Boston Globe's investigation and exploitation of the Catholic church's child abuse barbarity. The Post's Baron was editor of the Globe in the early 2000s and oversaw publication of the child abuse reports.

The stories, Baron said, touched thousands of local readers and had a global impact on the church and its faithful. The newsman praised the film's accuracy, while also acknowledging the role dramatization plays in filmmaking.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday will feature panel discussions and screenings of dozens of movies across several locations in Middleburg and Upperville -- approximately 35 miles west of D.C. -- including the world premier of Meg Ryan's directorial debut, “Ithaca,” starring Ryan and Tom Hanks. Ryan is expected to attend the debut along with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Johnson, who as co-founder of BET and an influential business woman with ties to Hollywood, said there's a special feeling in the air with the event heading into its third year.

Ticket sales tell the same tale – many of the weekend's packages sold out more than a week ago.

In brief remarks, McAuliffe touted the state's tourism initiatives, led by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Film Office and Virginia Wine.

“If you're thinking of doing movies,” McAuliffe told the crowd, “you do them here in Virginia. We've got tax breaks, we've got it all – we have great actors, we have actresses, we got it all. Come to Virginia.”




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Click here for more information on the Middleburg Film Festival.


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