Alexandria Film Festival returns for 17th year

Alexandria Film Festival returns for 17th year
The Alexandria Film Festival has made a return for the 17th year with expanded locations. (File photo)

By Laura Van Pate |

The Alexandria Film Festival returns for its 17th year Friday through Sunday. More than 50 films will be shown at various locations, including the Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library, the Lyceum and the AMC Hoffman Center. 

Patti North said she started the festival back in 2007 because she felt there was something missing in the arts culture in Alexandria. 

“People kept telling me that we needed a digital revolution to display art in Alexandria instead of being stuck in the Renaissance, and that’s why I came up with the festival,” North said. 

The festival shows a variety of film genres, including thrillers. One of these films is “Art Thief” directed by Arthur Egeli, which is based on a true story of a 1990 robbery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The film follows an untalented artist who ends up stealing a painting. 

“We were invited to the film festival by Patti North, and we didn’t have to think twice about attending. Me and the … cast and crew chose to show our film at the Alexandria Film Festival because it’s an independent festival, and our movie is an independent film,” Egeli said. “We thought it would be an amazing opportunity, especially in a city that’s close to Washington D.C.” 

“Privacy” is another thriller film being shown at this year’s festival. Directed by Sudeep Kanwal, “Privacy” is an Indian film about a woman who investigates a robbery and a murder. The film was shown earlier this year at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea. 

“Privacy” is one of the selected films at the festival that will provide the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer panel with directors, actors and producers after the showing. 

The festival will also show drama films, including “Normal” and “Two Lives in Pittsburgh.” 

“Normal,” directed by Olivier Babinet, is a French film and tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who must juggle school, writing a novel, a part-time job and taking care of her father who has multiple sclerosis. 

“Two Lives in Pittsburgh,” directed by Brian Silverman, is a story about a blue-collar man struggling with his mother’s illness and his child’s exploration of gender. The man is torn between who he has always been and what his child needs him to be. 

The festival also has a slate of comedy films such as Bob Byington’s “Lousy Carter,” which tells the story of a “man-baby” English professor suffering from a moody reality, which worsens when he finds out he only has six months to live. 

“It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite film because we’re showing many great ones,” North said. “I think what’s great about this festival is that we get to showcase such amazing works of art, especially in a historic city like Alexandria.” 

North said this year’s festival will differ from years past. 

“This year is going to be very special because we added another venue, the Lyceum, which also allows us to show more films,” North said. “We’re also going to have many special guests at this year’s festival, such as Annie O’Donnell, an actress from ‘Two Lives in Pittsburgh,’” North said. 

Many Alexandrians are excited to attend this year’s festival. 

“I’ve been attending the Alexandria Film Festival since it first started,” L’Tonya Tobin, Alexandria resident, said. “I think what’s great about this festival is that the movies shown are pieces of art that can speak to people and resonate with them.” 

Tobin said she is especially interested in viewing “No Ordinary Campaign.” 

“This movie resonates with me because it’s about someone going through ALS, which my husband battled. It’s these types of movies that tell personal stories that make me love the Alexandria Film Festival,” Tobin said. 

Those interested in attending the film festival can buy an all-festival pass for $80 at alex Those who want to buy tickets for specific films can go to Those interested in volunteering at the festival can email