The Score: Living Dead, Denver Riggleman, Orson Welles, Kentucky Football
This week on The Score: Denver Riggleman wins election to Congress from Virginia. Ben Mankiewicz explains classic horror films. Documentary film directors describe their movies. Tim Hulsey riffs on Orson Welles.
Oh, the Horror!
This week we have a change of pace. We have a smaller dose of politics than usual, thanks to the end of the election campaign season. Our special features come from this year’s Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, with interviews with film directors and producers and a chat with The Score’s regular film critic, Tim Hulsey.
Let’s start with a tidbit. I had the opportunity to ask Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz about two classic horror movies that he introduced at the film festival: 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead, marking its fiftieth anniversary this year.
Mankiewicz is a journalist and film historian who is best known as a host on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), where he introduces movies, offering tidbits on how they were made or how they were received by critics and audiences, and what influences they may have had on producers, directors, and screenwriters.
Mankiewicz has been a frequent guest presenter at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. In 2011, for instance, he introduced the 1973 Terrence Malick film, Badlands, and moderated a discussion with actress Sissy Spacek and designer Jack Fisk. This year, he also interviewed Peter Bogdanovich (via Skype) about the “new” Orson Welles film, The Other Side of the Wind, and introduced a few other films. (The film festival staff kept him busy.)
The video (above) shows Mankiewicz introducing James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein during the Virginia Film Festival on Friday, November 2.
Earlier this week, I posted video of the panel discussion that followed a screening of Virginia 12th, a new documentary film that was a last-minute addition the 2018 Virginia Film Festival program. Virginia 12th traced the campaign of political neophyte Chris Hurst as he challenged Delegate Joseph Yost in the 2017 election for the 12th district seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates.
After the panel ended, I talked to the film’s director, Tim Johnson, whom I asked whether he had sought to interview former Delegate Yost or to get his campaign’s cooperation or participation. He said he was “rebuffed” by the campaign.
My first question to Johnson, however, was about whether documentary film makers are journalists, a question I also posed to other directors and producers at the Virginia film festival, including Mark Herzog, whose interview about his CNN series 1968: The Year that Changed America was featured last week on The Score.
On the last day of the Virginia Film Festival, I took aside the Score’s movie critic, Tim Hulsey, and asked him what he thought about the various films by and about Orson Welles that the festival featured. Actor/director Peter Bogdanovich participated remotely in several post-screening discussions about Welles and their relationship on- and off-screen.
In addition to the “new” Welles film, released 33 years after the film maker’s death, The Other Side of the Wind, the festival featured screenings of the documentary films, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (directed by Morgan Neville and available on Netflix) and The Eyes of Orson Welles (directed by Mark Cousins), and the bizarre, puzzling, odd, intriguing Welles-directed docudrama, F for Fake (1973).
On election night, I went to the Denver Riggleman campaign’s watch party at the Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County. I missed his formal victory speech but he and I had a brief conversation afterwards, before his voice gave out completely from the excitement.
In this previously-published podcast, distillery owner, Bigfoot fan, intelligence analyst, and Congressman-elect Riggleman explains his victory in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, which extends from the North Carolina border in the south to the D.C. suburbs in the north.
Paul Wagner won an Academy Award in 1984 for his documentary short, The Stone Carvers. His 1998 film, A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America, won an Emmy Award and was nominated for two others.
Paul’s latest movie is called Black in Blue and it tells the story of the first African-American football players who took the field for the University of Kentucky in the mid-1960s. As the film festival’s program guide explains:
Before 1967, the American Southeastern Conference boasted a roster composed entirely of white athletes. In the fall of 1967, however, Nate Northington walked on to the University of Kentucky football field and broke the color line. Just a day before, Northington’s roommate and fellow civil rights pioneer Greg Page had died as the result of a tragic accident. In the wake of his death, Northington fulfilled one of Page’s ambitions: to play football alongside white athletes for his university. Documenting this groundbreaking event in sports, Black in Blue gives voice to the role of sports in integration.
I spoke to Wagner and one of the film’s producers (and a member of that pioneering Kentucky gridiron team), Paul Karem, outside the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville during the Virginia Film Festival.
Here’s the trailer, which starts with Paul Karem speaking:
[vimeo 226826477 w=640 h=360]
As I did with other directors, I started by asking Paul Wagner about documentary film making and journalism.
Russian Literature in Prison
Charlottesville-based Chris Farina has been making locally-focused documentary films for more than 35 years. His 1995 movie, West Main Street, was a favorite of this year’s Virginia Film Festival, which also featured his latest project, Seats at the Table.
According to the film guide from the Virginia Film Festival, “At the University of Virginia, Andrew Kaufman has taught the acclaimed class Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature, and Leadership since 2010. Each week, students travel to a maximum-security juvenile correctional center to study Russian literature with incarcerated young people. Using the literature of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky as a prism through which to share the stories of their lives, classmates—both UVA students and correctional center residents—convey their most intimate human experiences. As students break down their preconceptions about one another, they establish meaningful relationships, and are transformed by their discovery of shared humanity in such an unexpected place.”
Farina is president of Rosalia Films and is known for directing the 2010 documentary, World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements, based on the ideas and experiences of Charlottesville-area teacher John Hunter, and for appearing in the film festival circuit favorite, The Parking Lot Movie.
Chris explained the premise of Seats at the Table to me during our conversation, which began with my question: Are documentary film makers also journalists?
From the Archives
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the tumultuous, turbulent campaign season of 1968. Three years ago, I spoke to political scientist Larry Sabato about that year and about a documentary film from the UVA Center for Politics called Ball of Confusion.
I spoke to Larry Sabato on October 30, 2015, after a discussion about the 1968 elections that featured Ed Nixon, the brother of the former president.
(This interview from the archives appears only on The Score podcast and not on the radio broadcast.)
That covers the material in this week’s episode of The Score. We already have interviews lined up for next week, so don’t be disappointed if we were short on political topics this time. As always, comments and questions are welcome in the space below.