The seventh annual Middleburg Film Festival will honor filmmaker Noah Baumbach, composer Terence Blanchard and screenwriter Anthony McCarten later this month.
“Marriage Story,” Baumbach’s new film starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver that chronicles the breakup of a marriage, will open the festival on Oct. 17. Baumbach, director of the Academy Award-nominated “The Squid and the Whale,” will be awarded the festival’s Spotlight Director Award following the screening.
“We’re honored to kick-off this year’s festival with ‘Marriage Story’ and recognize filmmaker Noah Baumbach for his deeply personal and moving film,” Middleburg Film Festival Executive Director Susan Koch said in a prepared statement. "We’re also delighted to welcome back and honor screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who once again has crafted a riveting story and magnificent script for his lead actors in ‘The Two Popes.’”
McCarten’s lengthy resume includes the scripts for renowned biopics including “The Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hour” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all of which earned Academy Awards for Best Actor for leading men Eddie Redmayne, Gary Oldman and Rami Malek, respectively. His latest film, directed by Fernando Mereilles (“City of God”), depicts the relationship between Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and his successor, Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce), as they hope to find common ground between their conflicting ideologies.
A third honor, the festival’s Distinguished Composer Award, will be presented to six-time Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard during a tribute concert featuring Blanchard’s quintet, E-Collective, and a 35-piece orchestra. Blanchard is best known for scoring films that document and comment upon painful American tragedies, including many films by Spike Lee such as last year’s “BlacKkKlansman” — which earned him an Oscar nomination.
“Recognizing a film composer is a signature event of the Middleburg Film Festival, and we’re thrilled to honor Terence Blanchard this year,” Middleburg Film Festival Founder and Board Chairwoman Sheila Johnson said in a prepared statement. "Our filmgoers are in for a real treat as Terence, accompanied by his quintet and an orchestra, performs selections from some of his most memorable scores and talks about his creative process, addressing contemporary social and political issues through his powerful music.”
Two Friday Spotlight films to be screened Oct. 18 are Trey Edward Shults’ “Waves” and Kasi Lemmons’ “Harriet,” which is scored by Blanchard. “Waves” follows the lives of a suburban, African-American family as it attempts to cope with a tragic loss. The film features performances from Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown and Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges. “Harriet” documents legendary American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free slaves through the Underground Railroad and will star Tony winner Cynthia Erivo as the titular heroine.
Saturday Night Centerpiece film “Ford v Ferrari,” directed by James Mangold (“Logan,” “Walk the Line”), is inspired by the real-life friendship between American car designer Carroll Shelby and British driver Ken Miles, portrayed by Matt Damon and Christian Bale, respectively. Shelby and Miles work against corporate interference and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company to pit against the dominating engines of Enzo Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Finally, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited “The Irishman,” a three-and-a-half-hour crime epic following the mysterious disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) as seen through the eyes of hustler and hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro), will close the festival Oct. 20.
“Waves,” “Harriet” and “Ford v Ferrari” will be distributed theatrically later this year, while “Marriage Story,” “The Irishman” and “The Two Popes” will made available to stream on Netflix in the coming months.
Festival ticket packages and passes are currently on sale at middleburgfilm.org. Individual tickets will go on sale Oct. 1.