RiverRun Film Festival: Insider Tips

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RiverRun Film Festival LogoAs the City of Arts & Innovation, Winston-Salem is the proud home of the RiverRun International Film Festival, an 11-day event that shines as one of the premier film festivals in the Southeast. The 24th annual RiverRun is set to take place on April 21-30, 2022. Look for showings at various venues around town (including RED Cinemas in Greensboro) and a few will also be available for virtual, at-home viewing. 

Founded in 1998, the RiverRun Film Festival got its name from the French Broad River near Brevard, North Carolina, where the event was originally held. The festival moved to Winston-Salem in 2003.

The 2022 Festival features 174 films featuring 33 countries. RiverRun Film Festival screening venues during the 11-day Festival included the following Winston-Salem locations: UNCSA, SECCA, Marketplace Cinemas, Hanesbrands Theatre, Bailey Park, Crossnore, Kilpatrick Townsend campus, and RED Cinemas in Greensboro.

RiverRun Film Festival Insider Tips

We here at MyWinston-Salem.com are excited to have access to some behind-the-scenes info on the Festival to share with our readers!

How To Plan For RiverRun

couple perusing RiverRun brochureOnce the film lineup is announced (about a month before the start of the festival), peruse the RiverRun website to get familiar with the films and start making your choices. It’s wise to use the online film list to make your selections (and buy tickets) in advance.

In 2022, the film lineup was announced on April 4, 2022, and tickets went on sale to members on April 5 and to the general public on April 8.

The list of films is a lot to sort through, so consider using the website’s tabs to search by the date you can attend, and/or your favorite genres. RiverRun staff encourages festival-goers to be a little adventurous and get outside of their comfort zones: “Be prepared to take risks. Find something in a film’s description that looks interesting to you. See something with subtitles.”

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, buy your tickets early! Many sell out in advance, so be sure to buy your tickets online today. You can get a package for multiple films or buy individual tickets under each film’s listing on the RiverRun website.

Keep in mind that tickets vary in price. Depending on the film, prices range from free, to $6 for weekday matinees (weekdays before 5 pm), student tickets at $10, and regular screenings for $12. So plan your budget accordingly for this once-a-year opportunity. You can also buy a sampler of 10 film tickets for $109 ($120 value) or a 6 film mini-sampler for $50 ($60 value).

Oscar-Qualifying Festival For Documentary Shorts

In 2015, RiverRun was accredited as a qualifying festival for the Oscars® in the category of Animated Shorts in addition to their initial accreditation for their Documentary Shorts category. This acknowledgment by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences puts our festival into a new league of excellence of which we all can be proud.

Opening Weekend

RiverRun Opening Night is the first Thursday night. Each year RiverRun offers two opening night film options to choose from – a narrative film and a documentary.

The opening night film is always a sellout and a sure-fire way to ensure you jump into this local event with a bang! This year’s opening night film is The Rose Maker, a French comedy about a garden business and the potential fraud escapades to save it. It will make you laugh, cry, and feel all the emotions that a good film should do, while also allowing you a much-needed escape.

TBD on the documentary feature for opening night.

Spectacular Lineup

With 174 films to choose from, there is something for everyone!

Family Day is another must-do featuring Saturday Morning Cartoons, a free screening of new animated shorts on both Saturday mornings of the Festival.

Visit RiverRun’s Website to learn more about the great film and event lineup.

Meet The Filmmakers

One of the great aspects of the Festival is the variety of directors, actors, and film industry folks who come to Winston-Salem to represent their films, offer Q&A sessions following the screenings of their films, discussion panels (often free), and parties. Normally, you can expect more than 100 filmmakers and industry guests to be in attendance.

Does “Sold Out” Really Mean Sold Out?

Maybe. Even if advance tickets for a film are “sold out,” there’s a good chance you can still get in if you get there 45 minutes early and get your name on the Wait List. Fifteen minutes before showtime, any empty seats are counted and sold to those on the Wait List. This also means that if you have bought tickets, be sure to be there and in your seat at least 15 minutes before the start time of your chosen movie or you may be out of luck (or, out of a seat, literally).

What is your favorite part of RiverRun?

About The Author:

Born right here in Winston-Salem, NC, at Forsyth Memorial Hospital, Michelle is a native. At age one she moved to Virginia but after spending 30+ years moving around Virginia, Tennessee, Massachusetts, California and even Paris, France, Michelle returned home to Winston-Salem in 2004. A job at Hanes brought her here but the heart of the city has kept her here.

Her favorite things about Winston-Salem are its welcoming people who call it home, its art-centric culture, and its perfect location at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains and a short drive to the beaches of the Atlantic. The lack of traffic is a pretty tremendous asset as well, especially since it gives her more free time to enjoy cooking and playing with her dogs, Lily and Barley. Michelle is one of the many residents of this great city who are thrilled to call this "My Winston-Salem"!

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Joan W
April 9, 2019 1:03 pm

My favorite films so far have been “The River and The Wall” – must see, so powerful and makes you realize just how ridiculous and inefficient a solution Trump’s border wall is (and damaging to the environment). We also loved “Maybe A Love Story,” so funny and cute! Thanks for writing this article, I had almost forgotten about the festival this year!

Natalie Norton
March 27, 2014 8:26 pm

Looking forward to River Run this year!

Tara Nelson
March 27, 2014 11:00 am

So excited for RR. Thanks for the chance to win 2 free tickets!

Whitney Frack
March 25, 2014 8:06 pm

I love RR! Every movie I saw last year was excellent. I would love to win tickets and give them to my mom, 1. because it is her birthday and 2. because she’s never been before.

Kristi_Marion
March 26, 2014 11:02 pm
Reply to  Whitney Frack

So glad you enjoyed RiverRun last year (and saw more than one film)! What did you see? Happy Birthday to your mom Whitney!

Courtney Tucker
March 25, 2014 4:56 pm

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never been to RR. I’ve had plans to go for the past two years and both times they fell through. Maybe I can make it to see one or two films this year.

Kristi_Marion
March 26, 2014 11:04 pm

It’s so much fun, Courtney! I enjoy the Q&A with directors especially. They give insights to their film and it makes for a much richer experience and makes you feel connected to their future films! Good luck!

Alex Schenker
March 25, 2014 5:32 pm

Hope to see you there Courtney, it will be well worth your time and you’ll have the itch to return every year (this is one of the events we look forward to most!). I would start buying tickets now, with the new Oscar designation for documentary shorts, tickets are selling fast (two of our movies have already sold out)!

Rewka
March 25, 2014 4:42 pm

I LOVE the online schedule! It’s laid out in such a beautiful manner that this almost overwhelming event is now easily navigated. Thanks for the schedule and tips!

Alex Schenker
March 25, 2014 5:33 pm
Reply to  Rewka

Glad you like the schedule Rewka, a big thanks to Kristi for putting this guide together!