Conversations | Sheila Johnson

by Tim Gordon

Since the inception of the Middleburg Film Festival in 2013, film critics Travis Hopson and I annually engage in an intimate one-on-one interview with the founder of the fest, Sheila Johnson for our defacto “State of the Festival” interview.

Over the years, we have enjoyed a bird’s eye view as this small festival with the simple, yet concise mantra, “the road to the Oscars” elegantly unfolds. Every year has its own personality but the one constant is the strong array of films that Johnson, festival director Susan Koch and the team have assembled over the years.

Once again this year, Johnson granted us an audience in the midst of Five-Year Celebration of films which this year featured awards contenders such as Lady Bird, Mudbound, I, Tonya, Three Billboards in Ebbing Montana, Darkest Hours and others. In addition to the films, the Middleburg Film Festival also invited special guests filmmakers such as Dee Rees, Greta Gerwig, and Maggie Betts.

In the midst of all of the activity in multiple locations, Johnson took some time from her busy schedule to share her insights on the festival, as well as looking back on the improbable but successful journey with the challenge of growing the festival but maintaining it’s unique ambiance.

Check out the Conversation, below:

Johnson discusses the growth of the festival as it reaches the five-year milestone (Part One)

      Sheila Johnson Part 1


Johnson addresses the preponderance of women-directed films at the festival as well as which ones are favorites (Part Two)

      Sheila Johnson Part 2


Johnson talks about the challenge of keeping the festival intimate in the face of anticipated growth and what she forecasts for the future of the festival (Part Three)

      Sheila Johnson Part 3


Middleburg Film Festival founder Sheila Johnson flanked by BFCA critics Travis Hopson (L) and Tim Gordon (R).