RiverRun Festival… Including Local Flavor

This year marked the 21st-annual RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem.  The 11-day festival included 175 films, including 71 features and 101 shorts from 47 countries.  The festival also incorporated a broad range of special events, high-profile regional premieres, celebrity tributes, family matinees, classic retrospectives and a mixture of panel discussions and parties.

RiverRun is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the role of cinema as a conduit of powerful ideas and diverse viewpoints. Their mission is to foster a greater appreciation of cinema and a deeper understanding of the many people, cultures and perspectives of the world through regular interaction with great films and filmmakers.

RiverRun provides entertainment for people from all walks of life. The Academy Award-qualifying film festival showcases a variety of narrative, documentary, student, animated and short films from all genres. Attendees have a variety of venue options throughout downtown to enjoy these unique films, including outdoor screenings.“Our 2019 RiverRun International Film Festival features a diverse collection of over 170 films from nearly four dozen countries across the globe,” said RiverRun Executive Director Rob Davis. “Each of these films is reflective of our mission to engage our audiences in an exploration of new and divergent cultures, and perspectives through the art of film.”

This year RiverRun featured local people and organizations that are making a difference in a special section titled “Close to Home.” Calm Before…the Rising Storm was screened as a North Carolina Shorts (short film) by a California filmmaker. The film tells the story of a group of high school kids from New England who formed a band, The Rising Storm, and recorded an album just for fun, only to have it rediscovered by record collectors decades later. Three of the six band members live in NC today, while the other three reside in New England. One of them, Dr. Richard Weinberg, lives right here in Winston-Salem, and is a professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine. The band has reunited periodically to play at music events that have taken them to Boston, Hoboken, London, and Rotterdam. Their most recent ‘gig’ was playing at their 50th class reunion, an event covered by a July 2017 feature story in the New York Times. Their 1967 album, Calm Before, has been described by The All Music Guide to Rock ‘N’ Roll as“one ofthe rarest and most respected garage band albums.” And it continues to be a hot commodity today: it was reissued in 2018 on vinyl and CD and is also available on Pandora and Apple Music.

Another local short film this year was Blind Adventure Camp. This film is about a camp for the seeing-impaired run by the local organization, “Industries for the Blind.

The last short film was Extraordinary People, co-directed by University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) professor Laura Hart McKinny. This short documentary followed six adults across the autism spectrum who, despite individual challenges, have found meaningful value and a deep sense of pride from their work at a business called “Extraordinary Ventures.”

If you missed all of the excitement and fabulous entertainment this year, be sure to mark your calendar now for the 22nd- annual

RiverRun International Film Festival,

running March 26th – April 5th, 2020,

and year-round screenings, including

the Indie Lens Pop-Up and RiverRun Retro series.


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