Hollywood Alum To Be Honored as Festival Kicks Off

Mark Johnson is a busy — and successful — Hollywood producer, working on between two and four films a year. He makes time for two things: chairing the Foreign Language Film Award Committee for the Oscars, and the Virginia Film Festival.

A 1971 graduate of U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences, Johnson has been coming to the festival since it started in 1987. He’ll be there again Thursday when the 2012 festival kicks off with a screening of his new film, “Not Fade Away.”

He’ll also be given a couple of nice honors. Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has issued a proclamation in his honor, and the festival itself will present him with a silver-anniversary award.

Johnson’s film credits are an impressive list, including “Rain Man,” “Diner,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Galaxy Quest” and the “Chronicles of Narnia” films.

“I think it is fitting that we open the 25th anniversary Virginia Film Festival with a film produced by Mark Johnson,”  festival director Jody Kielbasa said. “Mark screened ‘Diner’ at the very first Virginia Festival 25 years ago and joined our advisory board the very next year. Today he is the chair of our advisory board and has been a leading force in helping the festival become what it is today.”

Johnson likely will  closely watch the audience’s reaction to “Not Fade Away.”

“I’ve been bringing films there for a long time,” he said in an interview for U.Va.’s Campaign for the Arts. “I’ve screened new movies, ‘The Wendell Baker Story,’ ‘My Dog Skip,’ ‘Moonlight Mile.’ The Charlottesville audience is very film-wise, but not a movie business audience. It’s an intelligent audience that will tell me how the film will fare.”

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