RiverRun 2018: That’s a wrap!
First things first: The 21st annual RiverRun International Film Festival will take place April 4 to 14, 2019 – so mark your calendars now.
Regarding the 20th annual festival, which ran April 19 to 29, total admissions were tallied at 17,222, an increase of 3 percent over last year. This year’s festival set records for 36 sell-outs — 17 in advance – and marked the first time that both opening-night films, American Animals and Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, sold out. During the festival, MovieMaker Magazine named RiverRun as “one of the top-50 festivals worth the entry free,” on a list of international film festivals.”
The 2018 festival presented 165 films in all, representing 40 countries from around the world. “We had more than 2,000 submissions and we had many difficult choices to make in completing the program,” said Rob Davis, RiverRun’s executive director. “The juries were very impressed with our competition films and agreed it was difficult to make their final decisions.”
Vivian Qu’s Angels Wear White was selected as Best Narrative Feature, with Qu winning the Peter Brunette Award for Best Director and Best Actress accolades for Meijun Zhou. Thomas Gioria won Best Actor for Xavier Legrand’s drama Custody. Remarkably, both actors are making their feature debuts in their respective films. Laurent Cantet and Robin Campillo won the award for Best Screenplay for The Workshop, which Cantet also directed.
In the category of documentary features, Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap took the prize as Best Documentary Feature, Mila Turajlic won Best Director for The Other Side of Everything, Kieran Gosney and Dino Jonsater won Best Editing for Time Trial, and Julian Schwanitz copped Best Cinematography for Donkeyote.
In the shorts competition, Nathalie Biancheri’s Xavier Corbero: Portrait of an Artist in Winter copped the prize for Best Documentary Short, while Maris Curran’s While I Yet Live was awarded a Special Jury Prize. The Best Student Documentary Short was The Sandman directed by Lauren Knapp of Stanford University. Daniel Daigle’s Garage at Night and a Special Jury Prize was awarded to Armita Keyani’s Welcome Home. Jonatan Shwenk’s SOG won Best Animated Short, with Special Jury Prizes going to Trevor Jimenez’s Weekends and Valentin Riedl and Frederic Schuld’s Carlotta’s Face.
RiverRun’s audiences had their say as well, with Gregg Jamback’s In Pursuit of Justice winning the Overall Audience Award, Sam Garbarski’s Bye Bye Germany the Kilpatrick Townsend Stockton Narrative Feature Audience Award, Hawa Essuman and Anjali Nayar’s Silas the Documentary Feature Audience Award, and Noga Ashkenazi’s Saints Rest the Altered States Audience Award.
Each year, the festival holds a special event called “Pitchfest,” in which RiverRun, in tandem with various North Carolina universities, promotes the development of up-and-coming filmmakers. They present, or “pitch,” the idea for their project to a panel of industry insiders and experts, seeking advice on how to best proceed, as well as vying for prizes and industry recognition. This year marked the fifth Pitchfest, in which pre-selected student filmmakers from Wake Forest University, Elon University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
The Piedmont Federal Savings Bank first place selection was Moriah Hall and Nathan Knox’s No Sanctuary (UNCSA), which carries with it a $500 prize, and second place went to Lizzie Bankowski’s Dead in the Water (UNCW), which carries a $250 prize.
According to Davis, the festival received overwhelmingly positive response from attending filmmakers and audience members, the staff and volunteers were in top form, and the inclement weather – which seems irrevocably intertwined with the festival’s schedule over the years – did not dissuade filmgoers. “The weather wasn’t a factor, I’m happy to say!” Davis said.
For a complete summary of the 2018 RiverRun International Film Festival, including photo and video highlights, check out the official website: http://riverrunfilm.com/
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.