Gearing up for its 11th year, the Middleburg Film Festival, set to run October 19 through 22, has revealed the rest of this years’ honorees exclusively to IndieWire.
For the newly announced Friday Centerpiece film “The Zone of Interest,” lead Christian Friedel, who plays a Nazi officer living right outside Auschwitz, striving to build an idyllic life for his family near the concentration camp, will be in attendance at the festival to receive the Breakthrough Actor Award.
For the Saturday Spotlight film “American Fiction,” the recent TIFF People’s Choice Award starring Jeffrey Wright as a frustrated novelist that gains acclaim from a book intended to satirize the tired and offensive tropes found in Black American fiction, writer-director Cord Jefferson will be in town to receive the Special Achievement in Filmmaking Award.
Finally, Oscar-winning makeup artist Kazu Hiro will be on hand to receive the Distinguished Makeup Designer Award for his work on the festival’s Closing Film “Maestro,” which sees Bradley Cooper embody Leonard Bernstein throughout his career and marriage to Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan).
The festival also announced “Priscilla” director Sofia Coppola and her longtime costume designer Stacey Battat as the winners of the Variety Creative Collaborators Award, “May December” filmmaker Todd Haynes the recipient of the Visionary Director Award, “Past Lives” writer-director Celine Song as the winner of the the MFF Breakthrough Filmmaker Award, and “American Symphony” director Matthew Heineman as the winner of the Documentary Spotlight Award.
This year at Middleburg Film Festival will also see the inaugural Sheila Johnson Vanguard Award, named after festival founder and board chair, presented to composer and filmmaker Kris Bowers in recognition of his outstanding achievements in music and film. Bowers has scored such films as “Green Book” and “King Richard.” As a filmmaker, Bowers was Oscar-nominated for his 2020 short film “A Concerto is a Conversation” which he co-directed with Ben Proudfoot (“The Queen of Basketball”). The pair have reteamed to direct the upcoming documentary short film “The Last Repair Shop,” which will also be screened at MFF.
“Celebrating Kris with this inaugural award is a heartfelt privilege. His presence within our festival family over the years has been a source of pride as we’ve witnessed his meteoric ascent as a composer and filmmaker,” said MFF Founder and Board Chair Sheila Johnson via statement. “I’m so inspired by his work as are many young people, especially young people of color in our community who view him as a role model. He couldn’t be more deserving of every honor he receives,” she added.
In addition to all the aforementioned awards, the festival previously announced it would open with Netflix’s “Rustin,” and hand the Impact Award to director George C. Wolfe. Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” will play as the Saturday night Centerpiece film, with the filmmaker there to accept the MFF Director Spotlight Award. Emerald Fennell, whose new film “Saltburn” will play at the festival, will receive the Agnès Varda Trailblazing Film Artist award. Finally, composer Michael Giacchino (“Up,” “Star Trek,” “Next Goal Wins”) will be recognized at MFF with the Distinguished Composer Award during a tribute concert from the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra.
Also notable is the festival’s collaboration with the U.S. Department of State through the U.S.’s flagship film diplomacy program, USC’s American Film Showcase. MFF will host Ukranian filmmakers in a panel discussing their recent projects and the connections between their heritage and Ukraine’s film industry.
“We’re delighted that this year’s fantastic slate of films and guests represents such a wide range of voices and subjects, in keeping with the Festival’s mission of using the power of film to expand our understanding of the world and one another — and also spark thoughtful and lively conversations,” said MFF Executive Director Susan Koch as part of the announcement.