Richmond International Film Festival: The time is nigh for films that don’t suck

A draw for filmmakers from around the country, the RIFF also gives attendees the chance to explore the magical world of (good) movies.

For decades, our little city has turned up its nose at inferior music and art. Yet we numbly file into soulless blockbuster after soulless blockbuster while other cities’ enthusiasm for great film earns them top spots on release date lists.

The time has come for a change! Let us welcome and, most of all, cultivate talented filmmakers with an artistic eye and an adventurous spirit! Let us bring them all together in a film festival designed to give Richmond a foothold in an industry that largely ignores us! Let us embrace with both arms the Richmond International Film Festival!

Beginning this Thursday, February 28th at the Byrd Theatre, the RIFF will offer more than 50 films of all lengths, subjects, and genres for screening (by you) and judging (by an elite panel). Writers and directors range from homegrown Virginia hopefuls to award-winning filmmaking veterans from around the world. Our local folks will get a chance to expand their range and influence by collaborating with their national and international counterparts on short films, while panels and events hosted by groups like the James River Writers Society and Virginia Historical Society aim to give filmmakers an opportunity to pool their knowledge and learn from each other.

Recently, the RIFF announced Grand Jury members, who will decide which of the 53 films from 15 countries deserve the various monetary prizes that are in their power to bestow:

  • Tim & Daphne Reid of New Millennium Studios
  • Michael Mullen, Adjunct Professor at VCU Brand Center & former Creative Director at the Martin Agency
  • Mary Nelson, Deputy Director of the Virginia Film Office
  • Virginia Bertholet, Producer
  • Jerry Williams, TV Jerry and Producer
  • Anne Chapman, Anne Chapman Casting
  • Robert Griffith, Producer/Director
  • Michelle Kelly of CWA and Erica Arvold Casting
  • Heather Waters, Producer/Director and Founder of RIFF

These 10 individuals will brandish their refined film tastes and decide who walks away with a total of $20,000 in cash prizes. Winners will be announced and awarded at the annual Red Carpet event, this Sunday at 6:00 PM at the Byrd Theatre.

As for the films themselves, they run the gamut between short documentary about kids who witnessed the fall of the World Trade Center (Right There) and a whimsical farce about serious gamers (The Fellows Hip). RIFF founder and director, Heather Waters, directed two films herself, The Youth Roundtable Project documentary and the thriller StillWater Lake.

“This is our chance to show off our great city, expand the reach of film and the arts in the community, and take part in recognizing some of the industry’s greatest talent,” said Walters.

Find the full schedule online or visit the festival’s homepage to learn more. In addition to getting a first look at inspiring new films, you’ll also have the chance to visit a panel, sit in on a breakfast, enjoy live music, and much more.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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