Gary Edgerton founded the Old Dominion Film and Video Festival in 1998, and served as its artistic director from then until 2005, when it evolved into the ONFilm Festival, which is the leading regional event of its kind in Hampton Roads. According to fellow collaborator, Terry Lindvall, C.S. Lewis Professor of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan College: “Gary Edgerton is a bridge builder; his work at coordinating the contributions of many diverse scholars in Virginia for Old Dominion University’s annual film festival remains a marvel considering the regional politics of academic institutions.”
From 1998 through 2005, Edgerton and his colleagues at ODU highlighted important scholarly themes such as children in the media environment, diversity in film and television, America in international perspective, and visions of peace and war, among others. (Please see all of the topics in the above collage of festival brochures.) Over 25,000 people attended the various screenings, panels, and presentations over those eight annual ODU Film and Video Festivals.
One distinguished visitor who delivered a keynote address at the 2002 festival was Dr. Natalie Zemon Davis, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus from Princeton University and the nation’s leading scholar in film and history, who spoke about her experiences as screenwriter and historical consultant on The Return of Martin Guerre (1983): “I was giving a lecture for the History Department and was invited by Professor Edgerton to participate in the Old Dominion University Film Festival.”
Dr. Davis continues: “Gary Edgerton is the founder of this important event and its artistic director and inspiration. What a marvelous festival—bringing together students and faculty from all fields, and people from Norfolk and its region. For my presentation, I read his book, Ken Burns's America, and found it a major statement about the relation of film to historical evidence and role of serious public history in America. This is one of many influential publications by Professor Edgerton. During my visit I saw his leadership on campus and in the field of communication. He defined and sustained a broad and well-crafted program in the various forms of communication. And, he made sure that it is grounded in serious study and visualization, free of fashionable jargon, and infused with original insight and responsible hope for the future.”