The Arts

RiverRun Wraps, and Films Reap

(Last Updated On: April 12, 2017)


The 19th annual RiverRun International Film Festival wrapped for 2017 Sunday night, following the presentation of jury and audience choice awards.

Joachim Lafosse’s After Love, a French domestic drama about the end of a 15-year marriage, won the Best Narrative Feature Award and Outstanding Performance for lead actress Berenice Bejo. The Peter Brunette Award for Best Director – Narrative Feature went to Pedro Rodrigues for the Portuguese parable The Ornithologist.

“The films showcased in this year’s festival reflected diverse stories from around the world from both emerging filmmakers and established directors,” said Rob Davis, executive director of RiverRun, in an official statement. “We had more than 1,700 submissions for our 2017 festival and we had many difficult choices to make in completing the program. The juries were very impressed with our competition films and agreed it was difficult to make their final decisions.”

This marked Davis’ first year as the festival’s executive director, with RiverRun screening 151 films, representing 49 countries, during its 11-day run (March 30-April 9). Exact attendance figures are still being tabulated, but despite some bouts of inclement weather – a RiverRun staple, it seems — it didn’t seem to dampen (no pun intended) enthusiasm or early ticket sales.

The Best Screenplay award went to Raja Amari for Foreign Body, Best Cinematography to Pablo Paniagua for Dark Skull, the Visionary Award to Amman Abbasi’s Dayveon, and the Human Rights Award to Ann Marie Flemming for the animated feature Window Horses (which this reviewer thought was one of the very best films screened at this year).

In the Documentary Features competition, Jonathan Olshefski’s Quest, filmed on the mean streets of North Philadelphia, won Best Documentary Feature, with honorable mentions going to Thomas Lennon’s Sacred, Maya Zinshtein’s Forever Pure, and Mike Day’s The Islands and the Whales.

Ifunanya Maduka’s Waiting for Hassana was selected as Best Documentary Short, with Daniel Roher’s Sourtoe: The Story of the Sorry Cannibal receiving an honorable mention.

There was a tie for Best Narrative Short: Oscar Bernacer’s Apolo81 and Willem Bosch’s Weg Met Willem. Brendon McDonall’s The Dam was selected as Best Student Narrative Short. Best Animated Short was presented to Reka Bucsi’s Love, and Best Student Animated Short to Kat Michaelides’ Lethe.

The Best of Fest Audience Choice Award was won by Joanne Hock’s Purple Dreams, the Altered States Audience Choice Award by Ari Issler and Ben Snyder’s urban thriller 11:55, the Audience Choice award for Best Documentary was Jennifer Brea’s Unrest, and the Audience Choice award for Best Narrative was Selma Vilhunen’s Little Wing.


The official RiverRun International Film Festival website is