The Virginia Film Festival awarded Fiddlin’ its first-ever Commonwealth Award for Best Virginia Feature Film, honoring the achievements of Virginia filmmakers Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic at the 31st annual festival. Hundreds packed PVCC’s Dickinson Center on Sunday, November 4 for a special screening of the documentary about the annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, which was presented in collaboration with the Virginia Folklife Program. The audience gave Wayne Henderson a standing ovation when he appeared on stage following the screening. A key storyline of film follows Wayne’s friendship with (at the time) eleven-year-old guitar phenom Presley Barker.
Photographer Pat Jarrett captured Wayne’s performance with Helen White and a discussion among Wayne, Helen, producer Vicki Vlasic, and Jon Lohman. The event opened and closed with music by the Wildmans, a talented bluegrass and old time family band from Floyd, Virginia, whose mandolin player (Eli Wildman) won first place in mandolin at the 2018 Galax Fiddler’s Convention and whose fiddle player (Aila Wildman, sister to Eli) won first place in old time fiddle in addition to best overall performer, an extraordinary feat. “The musicians were just incredible,” VAFF Director and UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa said, “and it was a great example of the ways we are able to combine a film with a world-class arts presentation that brings it all to life.”
The Virginia Folklife Program looks forward to collaborating with the Virginia Film Festival in the future.