Wrapping up the 16th annual RiverRun International Film Festival (finally)

Admissions were down and box-office grosses up for the 16 th annual RiverRun International Film Festival, which took place April 4-13 in Winston-Salem.

“It’s been another great year for the festival,” said River- Run executive director Andrew Rodgers in an official statement. “When we compared the 2014 box-office numbers to last year’s, the numbers are remarkably similar.”

According to RiverRun statistics, admissions to all 2014 festival films, parties and events totaled 14,572, a decrease from the 2013 total of 17,928 and even the 2012 total of 16,046. Nevertheless, the box-office total for 2014 was $85,698, up from the 2013 total of $85,411. It must be noted, however, that ticket prices for this year’s festival increased from $10 to $12 for regular screenings and from $5 to $6 for matinee screenings to cover increased facility fees and the newly-instituted entertainment tax, which took effect this year.

“Despite any perception that this year’s festival was diminished in some way, our entire team is very pleased with this year’s festival, both in quality and general attendance,” according to Rodgers. “One barometer of how successful the festival is a full theater, especially at odd times of the day, and that was certainly the case for most of our screenings this year, thanks to the quality of films in our line-up and our outreach efforts.

“Overall admissions were a little lower this year, due to several factors,” he continues. “For instance, the festival did not use the Stevens Center for screenings this year, which offers a large boost to our seating capacity. Also the weather turned out to be a little too cold for our outdoor screening and, believe it or not, too nice for our second weekend. Finally, due to the number of snow days that needed to be made up, some area schools were a little reticent to take time off from lessons to bring students to RiverRun to see our free ‘Films with Class’ screenings this year.”

The 2014 festival screened a total of 144 films (63 features and 81 shorts), with 33 countries represented.

No sooner has one festival ended, of course, than pre-planning begins for the next one – and the 17 th annual RiverRun International Film Festival has already been scheduled for April 18-27, 2015.

On April 13 of this year, the festival an nounced the winners of its 2014 awards. With RiverRun’s recent accreditation by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), the winner of the documentary short award will automatically be entered into consideration for the Best Feature Documentary category in the Oscars. (That doesn’t mean it’ll automatically be nominated, only that the AMPAS Feature Documentary panel will consider it.)

This year’s winning documentary short was Konrad Kastner’s Cathedrals (Kathedralen).

Ryan White and Ben Cotner’s The Case Against 8, a behind-the-scenes examination into efforts to overturn the state of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, won both Best Documentary Feature and the Kirkpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Audience award for Best Documentary Feature – a clean sweep.

The Kirkpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Audience award for Best Narrative Feature went to Philippe Muyl’s Nightingale; the Altered States award for Best Indie went to James E. Duff’s Hank and Asha; the Best Narrative Feature Award went to Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, which also won Best Actress for leading lady Agata Kulesza and Best Screenplay; the Peter Brunette award for Best Director went to Marcel Said for The Summer of Flying Fish, which also copped the Best Cinematography award; Nestor Guzzini won Best Actor for Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge’s Tanta Agua; Stephanie Spray and Pancho Velez won Best Director for Manakamana. A Special Jury prize was awarded to Sabastien Betbeder’s 2 Autumns, 3 Winters and to Alex Lora’s documentary short A Hole in the Sky. The Human Rights award was won by Dan Krauss’ feature documentary The Kill Team. Joseph Esteban Alenda’s Inertial Love won Best Narrative Short. A Special Jury prize for Visual Ingenuity was presented to Erik Schmitt’s Rhino Full  Throttle and a Special Jury prize for Emotional Authenticity went to Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson’s Whale Valley.

Other 2014 RiverRun award winners included: Santiago “Bou” Grasso’s Padre (Best Animated Short), Nadia Micault’s Sonata (Special Jury prize), Miklas Manneke’s Kanyekanye (Best Student Narrative Short), Alex Lora’s A Hole in the Sky (Best Student Documentary Short), Ana Caro’s The Magnificent Lion Boy (Best Student Animated Short) and Jacob  Streilein’s Punctuwool (Honorable Mention – Student Animated Short).

In this third annual River- Run “Pitch Fest,” in which student filmmakers pitch their proposed documentary-short projects to a panel of industry experts, the winning selections were Unmappable (First Place), pitched by Wake Forest University student Diane Hodson, and Titanic Boy (Honorable Mention), pitched by UNCG – Greensboro student Andrew Reed.

“Films showcased at our festival this year reflected diverse stories from around the world, immense talent from directors – many trained in Winston-Salem – and a host of passionate projects that are jewels of the independent filmmaking community,” says Rodgers.

The official RiverRun website is: !