Alexandria Film Festival: Full Schedule

Alexandria Film Festival: Full Schedule


The Alexandria Film Festival will present 62 featured films for the 9th annual festival, to be held Nov. 5-8 at AMC Hoffman 22 Theatre and Beatley Central Library in Alexandria. The festival opens Thursday, Nov. 5, with the Alexandria premiere of “Mercy Street,” PBS’s new civil war drama historically based in Alexandria.

The festival will host a Q&A with “Mercy Street” stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Mary Phinney), Hannah James (Emma Green), Tara Summers (Anne Hastings), and executive producers David W. Zucker and Lisa Wolfinger. Local Alexandria producer and Alexandria Film Festival award winning filmmaker Joe Cantwell will moderate a Q&A following the screening.

Festival highlights include a holiday movie showcase on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at AMC Hoffman Theatre with a special advanced screening of the soon-to-be Christmas hit “Love the Coopers,” starring Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Diane Keaton, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei and Olivia Wilde.

The showcase will begin with short film “Merry Xmas,” starring Dick Van Dyke and Valerie Harper. “Merry Xmas” filmmaker Adam Rackoff will engage audiences with a Q&A following the screening.

This year’s festival also presents political documentaries, including a work-in-progress screening of political talk radio documentary “The Brainwashing of My Dad” on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at AMC Hoffman Theatre. Filmmaker Jen Senko and producer Adam Rackoff will be available for an audience Q&A following the screening.

The festival will host the premiere of political advertising documentary “I Approve This Message” on Saturday, Nov. 7 as part of a film showcase happening at 4 p.m. at AMC Hoffman Theatre. Local D.C. filmmaker Jesse Strauss will greet audiences for a Q&A following the screening.

“Yemeniettes” follows three women from Yemen trying to break the barriers of their traditional society as a part of the International Film Showcase at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 at AMC Hoffman Theatre.

Sixteen international films includes films from Sweden, China, the United Kingdom, Aruba, Australia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Venezuela, Yemen, Vietnam and India. “Rebirth” filmmaker Alireza Sadreddini from the United Kingdom plans to attend and perform an audience Q&A at 2:30 p.m. at Beatley Central Library on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Films coming from within the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area include “Shrines,” “Cherry Blossom,” “Freak the Language,” “Arlington Passages,” Landscape of power: Freedom and Slavery in the Dismal Swamp,” and “The Art of Richard Thompson.”

Local filmmakers Jesse Strauss of “I Approve This Message,” Nguyễn Đình Anh of “Uncle & Son,” Josh Peterson of “Forest Born,” and Karen Reedy of “Les Falaises” will be present at the festival with their films.

The festival features two LGBTQ films this year. “Uncle & Son” will be shown at AMC Hoffman Theatre at 1 p.m. as part of the International Film Showcase. “The David Dance” will be shown Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. as a part of a film showcase. Both filmmakers will be in attendance at the festival for Q&As after their screenings.

The Alexandria Film Festival’s history of environmental films continues this year with “The Bonobo Connection,” with filmmaker Irene Magafan in attendance, “Free Flight” and “From Australia with Lov3.”

The first-ever Kid’s Cinema Showcase will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 at AMC Hoffman Theatre. Animated films “The Importance of Lios” and “Hill of the Hapersnoks” lead the screening, followed by a nature feature length “On the Wing” about saving bald eagles. In addition to the Kid’s Cinema Showcase, many films provide an educational opportunity for teachers and their students, including “The Art of Richard Thompson,” “Offset: Seeing Beauty Through a Brain Injury,” “Landscape of Power: Freedo and Slavery in the Dismal Swamp, “Shrives,” “The Soft Shell Crab and th Metal Claw” and “Arlington Passages.”

The festival pays tribute to Sydney-Chanele Dawkins, award-winning feature filmmaker, film curator, film festival producer and a theater/film critic and arts writer who died on July 8, 2015, at age 47, after a battle with breast cancer. She served as an impassioned advocate for the arts as chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts in Alexandria. Her successful first film, “Modern Love Is Automatic,” will be shown at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, at AMC Hoffman Theatre.

A series of short films round out the festival. Notable shorts include “Zero,” a sci-film short by YouTube Your Film Festival winner David Victori with executive producer support from Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender, “The Schoolboy,” “I Am Reva,” “Three Lady Tailors,” “Before We Lose,” “Keepsake,” and “Birthday.”

All films shown at Beatley Central Library are free and open to the public. Tickets for films shown at AMC Hoffman 22 Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8 are available for purchase. The all-access pass to the festival is $45 and is available for purchase online until Saturday, Nov. 7. The all-access pass is $50 at the door. Tickets to individual screenings are $12 online prior to the festival, and $15 at the door. For more information, visit


The program is subject to change and such updates can be found on and on the festival’s Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.


“MERCY STREET” Alexandria Premiere (private screening)

Set in Alexandria in the spring of 1862, ”Mercy Street” follows the lives of two volunteer nurses at Mansion House,a luxury hotel that has been transformed into a Union Army Hospital in Alexandria.

Special guests for the premiere include: Hannah James, actress; Tara Summers, actress; Mary Elizabeth Winstead, actress; David W. Zucker, executive producer; Lisa Wolfinger, executive producer; Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming, PBS.

Moderator Joe Cantwell is an entrepreneur, investor and independent film and TV producer based in Alexandria. He was a senior executive at Authentic Entertainment, Starz Entertainment, AOL and Bravo Networks, where he was one of the founding executives of the Independent Film Channel (IFC). He is an advisory board member of the Alexandria Film festival and the DocuWest Film Festival. His film "Ride the Divide" won the 2010 Alexandria Film Festival Grand Jury Award.


“JOURNEY TO A MIRACLE: FREEDOM FROM INSULIN” (10:30 a.m., Beatley Library, Free)

This documentary chronicles the journey to find a cure for a rare form of diabetes. (57 min., USA)

“I AM REVA” (1:15 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

The tale of a mother and son living a double life as undocumented migrants in Sweden. (30 min., Sweden)

“FREE FLIGHT” (2:30 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Shot on location, this documentary follows the efforts of conservationists to save the last remaining colony of Scarlet Macaws in La Mosquita, Honduras. (21 min., USA)

“FREAK THE LANGUAGE” (3 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Exploring the life of New York City poet, David Mills and his connection to Langston Hughes. (30 min., USA)

“LES FALAISES” (3:30 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Set on a cliff overlooking Lake Erie, dancer Helen French portrays two sides of the same woman: one trapped inside her mind by old memories and one who visualizes endless possibilities. (14 min., USA)

“THE DEEP HEART’S CORE” (4 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

An elderly man recites the William Butler Yeats poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, over Super 8 images of his mentally disabled daughter's life at a retreat in the Shenandoah Valley. (4 min., USA)

“HERMITS” (4:05 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Twenty-five years ago, American author Bill Porter visited the Zhongnan Mountains in search of a 2000-year-old Chinese hermit tradition. He discovered dozens of monks and nuns leading solitary lives in quiet contemplation. In 2014, he returned to the Zhongnan Mountains. (87 min., China)


KID’S CINEMA SHOWCASE (10 a.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)

A Saturday morning film showcase programmed especially for children.

“The Importance of Lios”

A young earthworm named Lios, feels unimportant since it is animals like dogs and horses that star in movies. His father takes Lios on a journey where he learns just how important earthworms are to the ecosystem, and that without them, there could be no life on Earth. (8 min., USA)

“Hill of the Hapersnoks”

As an author tries to write her masterpiece, her ideas turn into pesky creatures — the Hapersnoks. (11 min., USA)

“On the Wing”

Four teens uncover a plot to destroy bald eagles to reach the oil beneath their nesting grounds. (89 min., USA)


A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Sydney-Chanele Dawkins Scholarship Fund, which supports the passion and efforts of female writers in journalism and the arts. Visit for more information.


The story of an apathetic nurse who moonlights as a dominatrix, her aspiring model roommate and the sad, strange world they live in. (90 min., USA)

“ARLINGTON PASSAGES” (10:30 a.m., Beatley Library, Free)

BikeArlington presents six stories of people and how biking is an important part of their lives. (19 min., USA)

“SHRINES” (11:15 a.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Follow photojournalist, Lloyd Wolf, as he documents Washington D.C.'s painful gauntlet of tributes to those whose lives were cut short by violence. (4 min., USA)

“MANNISH BOY” (11:30 a.m., Beatley Library, Free)

In 1970's Brooklyn, New York, 21 year-old Bobby Mayhill must adapt to the return of his older brother Tommy whose absence, while serving a six-year jail sentence, has left Bobby following in the wrong footsteps. (15 min., USA)


After a traumatic brain injury, photographer Brian Nice is confined to his childhood home. (60 min., USA)

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE (1 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


A poetic tale of imagination, grief and growing up set against the backdrop of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. (14 min., United Kingdom)


Letters are an endangered species in the Internet Age. Frank is a mailman who loves his job, but is faced with the realities of an increasingly digital world, continued economic cutbacks and post office closings. Suddenly, he finds renewed purpose. (20 min., USA)


A slice of life that follows a despairing and heartsick woman as she faces the reality of losing the most important relationship in her life. (5 min., USA)


A young military wife gets news that her Marine husband has been severely wounded in combat. (13 min., USA)


A boy and his father are emotionally and physically separated when the earth intermittently loses gravity. (20 min., United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, USA)


In this Southern Gothic tale, estranged sisters, Misty and Julie, return to their childhood home to clean out their late mother's house. Unfortunately for them, their mother was a hoarder. (17 min., USA)

FILM SHOWCASE (1 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #3)


Three lady tailors in the capital city of Xinjing enlist the help of a homeless boy to secure a precious book of cloth cuttings from the palace. (36 min., China)


The endangered bonobo ape found in the Democratic Republic of Congo is surrounded by war, civil unrest, habitat destruction and illegal hunting. (31 min., USA)


Novelist, Li Qing, struggles with psychological distress while writing her book. (29 min., China)


Three teenagers from an all-female high school in Yemen set out to break the barriers of their traditional society. (59 min., USA)

“THE SONS OF MAPES” (1:30 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

A documentary profiling the filmmaker's Afro-Caribbean father who rose to international success as a tennis player. (14 min., Aruba)

“FROM AUSTRALIA WITH LOV3” (2 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

This documentary profiles environmental activist/street artist, Bode Klein, who uses found objects and materials from the environment to make a profound point. (7 min., Australia)

“TUNNEL VISION” (12:10 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Sarah and Brandon are jaded ex-lovers who reunite after Brandon discovers he suffers from a rare eye disorder that is causing him to gradually go blind. (16 min., USA)

“REBIRTH” (2:30 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

Petty criminals breaks into an apartment and steal a beautiful carved wooden box — a box that contains the ashes of a young man’s father. (12 min., United Kingdom, Lithuania)

“THE SOFT SHELLED CRAB AND THE METAL CLAW” (2:45 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

The story of Wei Tang, a young Chinese woman, who toils everyday in her abusive husband's fish market in New York City. (14 min., USA)

“CHERRY BLOSSOM” (3 p.m., Beatley Library, Free)

A mysterious woman sparks a young man's interest at the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom festival. (17 min., USA)


New research has established the occupation by maroon communities in the swamp for more than 200 years. (20 min., USA)

FILM SHOWCASE (4 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


At age 90, Janey is writing her last play in a small town in Northern California. Her community theater productions have provided a sense of purpose in the town, which has been hit hard by the recession. (80 min., USA)


While on a blind date with a charming young woman, a film student struggles to conceal his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). (18 min., USA)

FILM SHOWCASE (4 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #3)


Richard Thompson won a Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist. Thompson was forced to stop drawing in 2012 due to Parkinson's disease, but his wit and artistic genius cannot be silenced. (22 min., USA)


While on an assignment in Urumqi, China, a young American journalist and her Chinese interpreter are unexpectedly caught in a riot ignited by Uighur extremists' extensive political, racial tensions against the ethnic Han. (16 min., USA)


A young man's attempt at a first contact with a love interest is hijacked. (3 min., United Kingdom)


People say they hate campaign commercials, yet ads can, and often do, turn the tide in elections. This documentary exposes the logic behind these ads. (36 min., USA)

ADVANCE SCREENING SHOWCASE (7 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


The story of a mischievous father who calls his very busy children to tell them that after 55 years of marriage, he and their mom are getting divorced. (7 min., USA)


Follow the Cooper clan as four generations of extended family come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. (100 min., USA) Special advance screening event exclusive to the Alexandria Film Festival. In theaters nationwide: Nov. 13.

FILM SHOWCASE (7 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #3)


The story of a mischievous father who calls his very busy children to tell them that after 55 years of marriage, he and their mom are getting divorced. (7 min., USA)


What would you do if someone you loved became obsessed with political talk radio and turned into a completely different person? (95 min., USA)

LATE NIGHT SHOWCASE (10 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


Claire, a former teacher, is haunted by her memories of a traumatic event. (19 min., United Kingdom)


A man tries to give life to his dying plant. (12 min., Lebanon)


Hoping to mend their broken lives and expose a corrupt system, a group of unlikely strangers band together to rob a bank. (10 min., USA)


Three 20-somethings write dreams for a secret organization.(26 min., USA)


A wordless, mystical film about one man’s journey into nature and the depths of his own identity. (23 min., USA)

LATE NIGHT SHOWCASE (10 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #3)


Based on real events, this frightening tale follows four friends on a road trip haunted by the urban legend "Lady in White." (17 min., Venezuela)


During the course of a poker game, a mild-mannered young man is emasculated to the point of no return by a fellow player. (14 min., USA)


During a walk in the woods, a man stumbles upon a gate blocked by a guard who refuses to let him through. (18 min., USA)

“AMERICAN DIRTBAGS” Work-in-progress screening

An unapologetically raunchy action comedy about six lovable degenerates, their terrible choices, often hilarious and tragic consequences, and unexpectedly interwoven lives. (90 min., USA)


FILM SHOWCASE (10 a.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


Mario Marchese is a wayward youth looking for meaning in his life when he happens upon a magic shop. (75 min., USA)


After the death of her husband, lifelong artist Pamela Joseph was left creatively frozen, searching for meaning and struggling to find her identity. (14 min., USA)

“THE LAST GREAT CIRCUS FLYER” (10 a.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #3)

The greatest trapeze performer of all time reflects on his illustrious circus career and reveals why he unexpectedly quit “flying.” (119 min., USA)

INTERNATIONAL FILM SHOWCASE (1 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


After his parents left a long time ago, a boy goes to live with his uncle. (14 min., Vietnam)


The story of a devoted single mother in the Black Sea region of Turkey. (17 min., United Kingdom)


After the 1947 India-Pakistan partition, religious communities were split and lost touch.Based on true events in Rajasthan, India. (98 min., India)


The story of American “ultra running” legend Micah True (Caballo Blanco, or the White Horse) and his quest to create an ultra marathon in Mexico’s Copper Canyon to promote and preserve the ancient Tarahumara running tradition.

FILM SHOWCASE (4 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #2)


This documentary profiles environmental activist/street artist, Bode Klein, who uses found objects and materials from the environment to send a message. (7 min., Australia)


Luna Magica, a Lucha Libre wrestling star, dreams of becoming world wrestling champion while fighting to make ends meet as a single mom. (12 min., USA, Mexico)


Five-year-old, Jemimah, is desperate for her dog Tilly to have puppies at any cost. (7 min., Australia)


David, the host of a local, gay radio show in Buffalo, N.Y., struggles with self-doubt when his single sister asks him to be the father figure for her soon to be adopted Brazilian child. (108 min., USA)

“LOVE THE COOPERS” – Advanced Screening (4 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater #3)

Follow the Cooper clan as four generations of extended family come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. (100 min., USA) Special advance screening event exclusive to the Alexandria Film Festival. In Theaters Nationwide: Nov. 13.

CLOSING RECEPTION & AWARDS CEREMONY (6 p.m., AMC Hoffman Theater Mezzanine)


The following sponsors helped make the 9th-annual festival possible: PBS, Hilton, Virginia Film Office, The Highwood Theater, City of Alexandria, Alexandria Commission for the Arts, Sugar Shack Donuts, Chamowitz and Chamowitz Attorneys, Franconia Family Medicine, Alexandria Colonial Tours, Alexandria Hyundai, Carlyle House, Alexandria Times, Cheesetique, Burke and Herbert, Alexandria Toyota, AMC Hoffman Theater, Let's Meat on the Avenue, Natures Nibbles, Residence Inn Marriott, Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company, Yves Bistro, Alexandria Gazette Packet, Hermitage Senior Living, Eisenhower Partnership, Ted's Montana Grill, Delias Mediterranean Grill, San Antonio Bar and Grill, Port City Brewing Company, Wilson Grand Communications and First Media Services.