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RiverRun Film Festival revs up, Reynolda Film Festival opens

by Mark Burger

It begins with a One Night Stand and ends, 10 days later, in The Eye of the Storm.

In between are 140 films, parties, seminars and other get-togethers — all celebrating the shared love of cinema.

The RiverRun International Film Festival held its annual kickoff party last week at the HanesBrands Theatre in downtown Winston- Salem, where guests viewed an 18-minute highlight reel. Speakers included the Hon. William Reingold, the chief district court judge for the 21st Jusidical District of North Carolina and an adjunct professor of law at Wake Forest University, this year’s chairman of the festival’s board of directors; Richard Emmett, the CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County; RiverRun executive director Andrew Rodgers; and Allen Joines, who’s been the mayor of Winston-Salem the entire time the festival’s been here.

The festival “is one of Forsyth County and Winston-Salem’s artistic jewels,” said Joines, adding that road signs along 4th Street will be renamed “RiverRun Film Alley” during the festival.

The 2012 RiverRun International Film Festival will run April 13-22 at venues throughout the city, and this year will also mark the first screening elsewhere, at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro. (Daniel Nettheim’s thriller The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe, will be screened there April 18.)

Last year’s event marked the 13th RiverRun festival, and this year’s opens on Friday the 13th . With tongue firmly in cheek (and ax firmly in head), this coincidence will be celebrated with a special 11 p.m. screening of the original Friday the 13th (1980) at A/perture Cinemas in Winston-Salem.

Science fiction also gets celebrated this festival with special screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Andromeda Strain (1971), Soylent Green (1973), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Logan’s Run (1976), Sleeper (1973) and the original Solaris (1972) — the prints culled from the extensive collection of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking’s Moving Image Archives.

There’s very much a UNCSA flavor to the proceedings this year, with a number of featurelength and short films made by current students and graduates, many expected to be in attendance during the festival. In addition, the Emerging Master Award will be presented to actor Paul Schneider, a UNCSA graduate who made his first two films, George Washington (1999) and All the Real Girls (2003), with writer/director and fellow UNCSA graduate David Gordon Green, himself a previous Emerging Master recipient.

Schneider’s credits include Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Water for Elephants (2011) and an award-winning turn in Jane Campion’s Bright Star (2009), which will be screened April 21 at the ACE Exhibition Complex on the UNCSA campus with Schneider on hand for the award presentation. Schneider was recently a regular on the prime-time NBC sitcom “Parks & Recreation.”

Another special guest at this year’s festival is legendary Hollywood stuntman and filmmaker Hal Needham, who recently penned his autobiography Stuntman! and whose credits include Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), The Cannonball Run (1981) and Cannonball Run II (1984), all starring his longtime friend Burt Reynolds. There will be a special screening of Smokey and the Bandit April 14, and faculty member Dale Pollock will host “A Conversation with Hal Needham” April 15 at HanesBrand Theatres.

Having begun soliciting films for this year’s festival mere weeks after last year’s ended, the festival still has a few last-minute surprises. DisneyNature’s self-explanatory documentary feature Chimpanzee, which opens nationwide April 20, will be screened by the festival on April 15 at the Main Theatre at UNCSA. The film’s inclusion was so late that it’s not included in the festival brochure, which was printed before the screening was confirmed.

Rodgers said that the schedule is “absolutely, positively” final … “unless we get one or two more,” he added after a perfectly timed pause. (Scheduling updates will be posted on the RiverRun website.)

Tickets are now on sale. For more information, call 336.724.1502 or check out the official RiverRun website: 2012.riverrunfilm.com/

RiverRun’s not the only local film festival that begins with the letter “R,” as the fifth annual Reynolda Film Festival is currently underway, with screenings and events taking place on the campus of Wake Forest University (1834 Wake Forest Rd., Winston-Salem).

This year’s festival will include four feature films, 12 international student submissions, and a day-long selection of films produced by Wake Forest University students. The keynote speaker for this year’s event is This year’s keynote speech will be delivered by activist and award-winning playwright and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who scored an Academy Award nomination (Best Documentary Feature) for his 2004 breakout film Super Size Me. His subsequent films include Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (2008) and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011). His latest documentary is Mansome a, due for release later this year.

Spurlock will speak at 7 p.m. Friday in Brendle Recital Hall. This event is open to the public. Tickets are $5.

“When deciding on a speaker, we wanted someone who was able to engage the students,” said festival director Connor McCarthy in a statement. “We think that Morgan is a captivating speaker who can speak to the challenges of the film industry as well as the intricacies of documentary film.”

For a complete schedule of events, or for more information, visit the official website: www.reynoldafilmfestival.com.

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