Virginia Film Festival Recommendations



Landfill Harmonic

Built in the shadow of a massive landfill, the Paraguayan community of Cateura survives by selling recyclable materials collected from the trash. A musical group known as the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral in the media, the orchestra is launched into the global spotlight. Guided by idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra navigates an unfamiliar new world of arenas and sold­out concerts. After a natural disaster strikes their country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and deliver hope to their town. Directors Graham Townsley and Brad Allgood shed light on the possibilities that exist for all communities, no matter how impoverished.  

Anywhere But Here + Seeking Asylum

These two documentaries by local filmmakers explore race and inequality on both the local and global level. Anywhere But Here, by director Lorenzo Dickerson, focuses on the flaws in the American justice system and the importance of overcoming negative life experiences. The film features interviews from 13 African-American men incarcerated at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Seeking Asylum documents director Darnell Lamont Walker’s experience leaving the U.S. in search of a safe space, traveling through other countries in the wake of injustice and tyranny against African-American citizens.

After Spring

With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, millions of people have been displaced from their homes, and still more are forced to migrate each day. After Spring follows two refugee families in transition and several aid workers fighting to keep Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees, running. Documenting the conflict and refugee crisis, both with no end in sight, the film highlights a dilemma for everyone involved: can they rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent?

A Late Style of Fire: Larry Levis, American Poet

Larry Levis, one of the most influential and decorated poets of his time, suffered a fatal heart attack at the young age of 49. With an original score by Iron and Wine, this innovative documentary explores his brilliant writing and sometimes troubled life. A series of conversations between friends, family, and contemporaries reveals this Richmond-based poet’s childhood working alongside Mexican-American field hands in California, his three marriages, and his friendships with America’s greatest poets. A Late Style of Fire weaves together a beautiful retelling of a life embodying the risks and triumphs that come with devoting one’s self to art.

Contemporary Color

This performance event, conceived by Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne, honors the artistry and athleticism of color guard. Ten of the country’s elite color guard teams—the flag-flipping, sequin-studded crème de la crème of the “sport of the arts”—sync steps with musical luminaries for a bacchanalia of beats, sabre spinning, and glitter cannons. Live musicians, including St. Vincent, How to Dress Well, and Nelly Furtado, accompany the teams’ performances with original compositions. This event celebrates the skill and creativity of color guard with elaborate costuming, incredible venues, and stirring music that let this underappreciated art form shine.

Into the Inferno

Iconic German director Werner Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer travel to the world’s most treacherous volcanoes to ponder the meaning of these bizarre vents in the Earth’s crust. On this journey, they travel to Iceland, North Korea, Indonesia, and Ethiopia to explore the potential threat, distinctive identities, and seductive allure of each volcano. Paying tribute to the late French researchers Katia and Maurice Krafft, Herzog incorporates their stunning up-close footage of magma rivers. Herzog artfully blends reportage, history, and philosophy into a captivating cinematic experience that conjures a magical assessment of a natural phenomenon.

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