Middleburg Film Festival Sheila Johnson

MFF Founder and Board Chairwoman Sheila Johnson speaks during a private event prior to the screening of official opening film "Marriage Story."

Hundreds of film lovers and prominent local figures gathered in Middleburg Thursday for the opening festivities of the seventh annual Middleburg Film Festival.

While the sold-out evening presentation of official opening film "Marriage Story" — followed by a question-and-answer session with writer-director Noah Baumbach — was the main attraction, tickets also sold out for an afternoon screening of "Parasite," the latest film by renowned South Korean director Bong Joon-ho.

MFF Executive Director Susan Koch introduced the "pre-opening film," which starts as a comedy-drama about a poor family living in Seoul before morphing into something much different.

"This is a great film. I mean, it's wild. It's going to start out one way and it's going to take you on a real ride," Koch said.

The rest of the evening's festivities took place at Salamander Resort and Spa, where MFF Founder and Board Chairwoman Sheila Johnson delivered opening remarks at a private event before the screening of "Marriage Story."

"This selection at this year's festival is the most inspiring group of films we've ever seen, and diverse," Johnson said. She added that one of her favorite selections at this year's festival is Saturday's big attraction, "Ford v. Ferrari," which follows the true story of two men preparing to compete at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race in France.

"For all you men, you're going to feel the testosterone in that theater," Johnson quipped.

Koch added a few words, thanking all of the people who made the event possible and emphasizing the number of extraordinary films that will play during the weekend.

"We're going to be finding out how many movies you've actually seen come Sunday. There's so many good ones to choose from, and if you want any recommendations feel free to ask. But I think they're all great, so enjoy yourselves," Koch said.

The Stanley Cup will again be making an appearance in Middleburg Friday afternoon, an accompaniment to the screening of "Willie," a documentary on Willie O’Ree, a descendant of escaped slaves who became the first black player in the National Hockey League. The cup will be on display and open to public viewing for a couple hours at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church starting at 4 p.m.

Johnson is part of the NHL's Washington Capitals ownership group. After the Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup, the revered trophy was shown off at Salamander Resort.

More information about this weekend's events is available at middleburgfilm.com.

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