UNCSA student screenings premier this week, a record year at RiverRun

by Mark Burger

The summer movie season is an annual tradition, and likewise at the School of Filmmaking at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. This

Thursday and Friday, the school will be presenting its thirdand fourth-year student films — and you’re invited.

In less than 20 years, the School of Filmmaking has established itself as one of the nation’s premier institutions of its kind. Its star-studded roster of graduates includes David Gordon Green and Paul Schneider (both of whom have received the Emerging Artist Award from the RiverRun International Film Festival), Danny McBride, Tim Orr, Jeff Nichols, Craig Zobel, Jody Hill, Mark Freiburger and Aaron Katz. Just last month, two alumni — Martha Stephens (Class of ’06) and Nate Meyer (Class of ’98) — screened their latest feature films (Pilgrim Song and See Girl Run, respectively) at the RiverRun festival, and the short-films program included films made by current School of Filmmaking students and graduates.

It may sound like a cliché but it’s not far from the truth: The student filmmaker of today could well be the blockbuster filmmaker of tomorrow. Titles and lineup are subject to change.

The Fourth-Year (senior) Films include Children of Wax, directed by Raven Bradley; Colt, directed by Zach Laws; The Dash (a documentary about the Winston-Salem Dash), directed by John Harvey and Chelsea O’Shea; Death of a Wizard, directed by Edward Varnie; Drinking in the Sun, directed by Quentin Norris; Dust Devils, directed by Gerry Gibson; Felicia, directed by Zach Coker; Furiously, Hold Me, directed by Lindsay Thompson; Memoirs, directed by Ian McLerin; Molly Under the Moon, directed by Zach Strum; The Scariest Monster, directed by Shannon Jones; Trustworthy, directed by Gerik Gooch; and Winning Ellen, directed by Emma George.

The Third-Year (junior) Films include And How!, directed by Andreas Guzman; The Blank Page, directed by Andrew Nelson; Chroma, directed by Ted Russo; Daffodil, directed by Gabriel Russo; Demon Days at Cooper High, directed by Dylan Gravley; Kings and Queens, directed by Jimmy Quinn; The Pinocchio Project, directed by Gabriela Jackson; Sergeant Townsend, directed by Ben Hall; and The Trouble With Purposing, directed by Darren Hummel.

Screenings will take place at the ACE Exhibition Complex, located on the UNCSA campus (1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem). The third-year films will be screened Thursday at 7 pm in the Main Theatre and at 8 pm in Babcock Theatre. The fourth-year films will be screened Friday at 3 pm, 6 pm and 9 pm in the Main Theatre, 8 pm in Babcock Theatre.

Student films are not rated and may contain adult situations and language. Parental discretion is advised.

Tickets are $6. For advance tickets or more information, call 336.721.1945 or check out the official website:

Speaking of the RiverRun International Film Festival, preliminary estimates indicate that this year’s festival, which ran April 13-22, was its best-attended yet. There was an increase in admissions to films, parties, panels and other special events by more than 13 percent (perhaps only fitting, since the festival opened on a Friday the 13th ), while box-office revenue was up by approximately 8.5 percent over the same period.

Total admissions were 16,046, up over last year’s total of 14,184, setting a new River- Run record. The box-office tally for 2011 was $65,419 and this year’s total was $70.995. Of the 151 screenings during the festival, 43 of them were sell-outs — a solid 28 percent overall.

“This was truly an exceptional year for RiverRun,” said executive director Andrew Rodgers, in an official statement. “We had a lot of remarkable films and filmmakers participating in this year’s event, and audiences obviously responded. As a result, more people attended this year’s RiverRun (festival) than ever before.”

The 2012 festival marked the 10th anniversary since RiverRun relocated from Asheville and Brevard to Winston-Salem, where it has become an ingrained component of the region’s arts scene. Some years have been more successful than others — this year was clearly the most successful yet — but never has it not been a success.

As always, the official website is Photo highlights of this year’s festival and news updates will continue to be posted online.