Lights, camera . . . Rappahannock!

The first Film Festival at Little Washington, to run April 10-12, came about after Woodville filmmaker Stephanie Slewka wanted to show her film at the Theater at Washington. Told that RAAC handled films, she contacted RAAC’s former president who said more was better. Then RAAC got a new president, who suggested a festival.

Festival films must be made by a Rappahannock resident or filmed here. The festival opens on Friday with a mockumentary about rock climbing, “Almost Alpine.” Directed, written and produced by native sons Chad Heddleston, Jesse von Fange and Jeremy Tooley, it meets both criteria.

Friday’s second film, “Chasing Dance,” shows the struggles of a young choreographer. Its producers are intrepid and Emmy-award winning Mathieu and Tracy Mazza, who ascend a treacherous path up Bessie Bell Mountain every weekend to camp there.

Saturday’s lineup includes Oscar nominee Bayley Silleck’s film about Virginia’s most important river, “The Rappahannock,” released recently to acclaim, as was Slewka’s film about a troubled youth who pulls off a death-defying sail around the Americas, “Red Dot on the Ocean.” Woodville resident C. Scott Willis’ film about a family torn apart and put back together through art, “The Woodmans,” has won awards from prestigious festivals and is having its first screening at the theater.

A scene from "Almost Alpine," a mockumentary by Rappahannock natives Chad Heddleston, Jesse von Fange and Jeremy Tooley.
A scene from “Almost Alpine,” a mockumentary by Rappahannock natives Chad Heddleston, Jesse von Fange and Jeremy Tooley.

Saturday’s highlight, made by Virginia Commonwealth University filmmaking professor Richard Robinson is “Rothstein’s First Assignment.” See it and you will not look at Skyline Drive or take a walk in the Shenandoah National Park in the same way again.

Saturday also includes a 4-H workshop for children filmmakers and a pop-up venue — both ideas the brainchildren of Mathieu Mazza — where filmmakers can show works in progress. The highlight will be clips from “Feiga’s Choice,” the extraordinary story of a Jewish woman who made tough choices in the face of persecution. Filmed in Ukraine, Poland, South Africa and the U.S. by Emmy-, Peabody- and Dupont Award-winning producer and editor (and Rappahannock weekender) Cliff Hackel.

Ron Maxwell’s “Copperhead” will be featured on Sunday, along with a film about three workers at a manufacturing plant in Winchester. Throughout the weekend, there will be question-and-answer sessions after each film. And several short films and videos will be shown, including “Morelmania” and “Techmare,” both by Sperryville’s enthusiastic and creative amateur filmmaker John Hallberg.

The schedule*

Friday, April 10

7 p.m.: Welcome and “Almost Alpine”

8 p.m. Q&A with the filmmaker

8:30 – 9:30 p.m.: “Chasing Dance”

9:30 p.m.: Q&A with the choreographer


Saturday, April 11

11 a.m. -12:30 p.m.: Welcome and “41 on 41”

12:30 p.m.: Q&A with the executive director

1 – 2 p.m.: “John’s Follies” (short) and “Rappahannock River: The story of an historic and beautiful River and its People”

2 – 2:30 p.m.: Joint Q&A with filmmakers and executive director, Friends of the Rappahannock

3 – 4:15 p.m.: “Red Dot on the Ocean”

4:15 – 4:45 p.m.: Q&A with the sailor

5 – 6:15 p.m.: “The Woodmans”

6:15 p.m.: Q&A with the filmmaker

7:30 – 8:45 p.m.: “Rothstein’s First Assignment: a story about documentary truth”

8:45 p.m.: Q&A with the filmmaker


Sunday, April 12

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: “Out of Dream” (short) and “Life Fine Tuned”

12:30 p.m.: Joint Q&A with the filmmakers

1 – 2 p.m.: “Techmare” (short) and “Raw Materials”

2 – 2:30 p.m.: Joint Q&A with the filmmakers and manufacturing company owner

2:30 – 4:30 p.m.: Closing remarks and “Copperhead”

4:30 p.m.: Q&A (tbd)

*Subject to change

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