MFF crowd 2018

In addition to screenings of the year’s most exciting films, the 2019 Middleburg Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday, will offer plenty of opportunities to engage with some of today’s top filmmakers and film critics.

Noah Baumbach, the Academy Award-nominated writer and director behind indie classics “Kicking and Screaming” and “The Squid and the Whale,” will be on hand for a Thursday night Q&A following the 7:30 p.m. screening of his newest film, “Marriage Story.” Audience members will be able to ask the filmmaker about his work, which has provided platforms for some of today’s most important talents including Greta Gerwig and Adam Driver. Baumbach will also be presented with this year’s MFF Spotlight Director Award for what festival officials have called “a deeply personal and compassionate film” about the disintegration of a marriage.

Friday at 9 a.m., Oscar race experts Clayton Davis, Nathaniel Rogers and Jazz Tangcay will discuss this year’s awards prospects and welcome predictions from guests at Coffee and Contenders, a new addition to the festival this year. The panelists will answer questions such as: Will this year’s Best Picture winner — like “Green Book” last year — be an entry at the festival? Who will be the likely nominees in each category?

Director, writer and actress Kasi Lemmons, whose new Harriet Tubman biopic “Harriet” is one of the festival’s Friday Spotlight films, will sit down for a conversation Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with Ann Hornaday, film critic for The Washington Post. The two will discuss Lemmons’ transition from young actor to acclaimed director, how she chooses her projects and the challenges she faces as one of very few female filmmakers of color in Hollywood. Coffee and light refreshments will be available for attendees.

Later on Saturday, D.C.-area film critics Travis Hopson (WETA), Nell Minow (RogerEbert.com), Susan Włoszczyna (GoldDerby.com), Jason Fraley (WTOP) and Tim Gordon (FilmGordon) will participate in the popular Talk Back to the Critics event at Old Ox Brewery at 2 p.m. The spirited conversation — topped off by a glass or two of local craft beer — will center around the critics’ favorite and least favorite films and will welcome comments from attendees regarding those opinions: where they went wrong, which of the year’s films are overrated or underrated and other hot topics. The critics will also divulge some secrets of the craft, give sneak-peeks at their top-five lists for the year and recommendations for what to watch at MFF this year.

Finally, Sunday will feature a number of tributes to and conversations with some of the industry's most successful talents. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten — who penned this year’s “The Two Popes” and previous awards darlings “The Theory of Everything” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” — will discuss his creative process and lend advice to aspiring screenwriters at a 9 a.m. conversation. “Harriet” composer and six-time Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard (“BlacKkKlansman”) will perform in a concert at 11 a.m., backed by his band E-Collective and a 30-piece orchestra. Those interested in the ever-important art of cinematography can listen in on a 5 p.m. conversation with Mexican cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, whose renowned work includes Oscar-nominated films “Brokeback Mountain” and “Silence,” as well as this year’s MFF closing feature, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.”

Event locations and more information is available at middleburgfilm.com.

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