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A weekend at the 2016 Middleburg Film Festival

"Loving" Producer Ged Doherty and former U.S. Attorney General hold a discussion on politics, race and how "Loving" has inspired them. Times-Mirror/Sydney Kashiwagi

The final day of the Middleburg Film Festival drew a huge audience to its opening show, “Loving," the story about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court civil rights decision that granted an interracial couple in Virginia the right to marry.

Nearly five decades after Mildred and Richard Loving’s case helped to end all race-based restrictions on marriage in the U.S., the first African American to serve as the country’s top lawyer, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Producer of “Loving” Ged Doherty discussed the state of the country since the historic Supreme Court decision and how the Loving’s story has inspired them.

“Is the story of the Supreme Court in this film the story of the Supreme Court as it might be even today?” Moderator John Horn of 89.3 KPCC in southern California asked Holder.

“Absolutely,” Holder said.

“Let’s not get into the election,” Holder said to laughter from the audience.

“[The Supreme Court] is one of the key things that’s at stake ... the court at its best signifies what this nation can be, how we live up to our ideals,” Holder said.

“By contrast when the court is at its worst, our nation is at its worst,” he added, using the Supreme Court’s sanctioning of segregation and slavery as examples. “There’s an awful lot at stake with the composition of the court.”

-Sydney Kashiwagi



"The Eagle Huntress" documentary Director Otto, teenage star Aisholpan Nurgaiv and her father talk about how Aisholpan became her region's first female egale hunder. Times-Mirror/Sydney Kashiwagi

Teenage star of “The Eagle Huntress” documentary, Aisholpan Nurgaiv, was joined by her father and film director Otto Bell at the film fest Sunday to talk about the film, which chronicles Aisholpan's quest to become the first female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her family of nomadic herders in Mongolia.

The documentary drew gasps, applause and tears as Bell and his team ventured out to Altai mountain range and captured the then 13-year-old selecting her first eagle, the adversity she faced a young girl in male-dominated tradition and her training the eagle to help her become the winner of her region’s renowned Eagle Festival.

An engaged Middleburg audience asked Aisholpan questions like whether she was ever afraid she would be attacked by the eagle to whether she was now respected by the eagle hunting community in Mongolia after her accomplishments.

Diane Gulick of Fauquier County presented Aisholpan with a Native American arrowhead she found on her farm to take home as a token of the American hunting culture.

Ashburn Girl Scout Troops 5266 and 5414 held an intimate conversation with Aisholpan after the film.

The girl scouts learned about Aisholpan's perseverance to become a young eagle huntress.

“Keep trying, and be brave,” she said.

Aisholpan poses with members of Ashburn Girl Scout Troops 5266 and 5414 after the screening of "The Eagle Huntress"Times-Mirror/Sydney Kashiwagi

-Sydney Kashiwagi


The Shenandoah Conservatory Orchestra and Freedom Choir earned a standing ovation after their hour-long tribute concert celebrating the work of composer Henry Jackman, who scored "Birth of a Nation," "Captain America" and "The Interview," among other films. Johnson couldn't hold back tears as she presented Jackman with the Middleburg Film Festival's Distinguished Composer Award after the concert.


Politico David Gergen and NYT critic Janet Maslin at @MiddleburgFilm's "#Politics, Presidents and The Movies."

A photo posted by Trevor Baratko (@trevorbaratko) on

CNN political commentator and staffer for multiple White House administrations David Gergen entertained an intimate crowd at the Middleburg Film Festival Saturday morning, providing insights from his decades in politics and weighing in on the "white elephant in the room" -- the 2016 election cycle.

Joined by New York Times film and literary critic Janet Maslin for a conversation called "Politics, Presidents and The Movies."

A crowd of about 100 people packed into Salamander Resort's cozy library to watch and analyze clips from several presidential films, including "Nixon," "Frost/Nixon," "All the President's Men" and "The Butler," the 2013 film produced in part by Middleburg Film Festival Founder Sheila Johnson, who was on hand for the dialogue.

-Trevor Baratko


"Jackie," starring Natalie Portman, was one of the highest profile films Saturday morning at the film festival. Most, if not all, of those who made it into the sold-out screening gave the film stellar reviews.

New York Times film critic Janet Maslin, who is in Middleburg for the festival, said Portman gave an exceptional performance in the drama set to open the first week of December.


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