RiverRun Film Festival 2024: Schedule, Locations, Tickets & More

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Riverrun film festival logo 2023

As the City of Arts & Innovation, Winston-Salem is the proud home of the RiverRun International Film Festival, a 10-day event that will celebrate its Silver Anniversary, 25 years, as one of the premier film festivals in the Southeast.

This year’s RiverRun is set to take place April 13-22, 2023, featuring 174 selections chosen from more than 1,700 submitted films. 

The Festival will include a combination of virtual at-home viewing and in-person screenings. See FAQ on The RiverRun website (bottom of the page) for more info about virtual 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 2023 Film Festival screening venues during the event include the following Winston-Salem locations: Crossnore Communities for Children, Hanesbrands Theatre, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Marketplace Cinemas, and UNCSA in Winston-Salem, 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!

RiverRun Giveaway

As a sponsor and partner of the RiverRun film festival, we gave away ticket packages to our valued readers. Congrats to our four lucky winners, who received two film and gala festival tickets each. Didn’t win this year? Put a note in your calendar to try again next year! The contest criteria was simple:

  1. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram
  2. Like and comment on our Instagram giveaway post.

How To Plan For RiverRun

A couple perusing the RiverRun brochure.

The 2023 film lineup was announced on April 3, 2023, and tickets are on sale to members on April 3-5 and to the general public on April 6.

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, including the virtual viewing screenings. You can get a package for multiple films or purchase individual tickets under each film’s listing on the RiverRun website.

Where Can I Buy Tickets & How Much Do They Cost?

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, regular screenings for $12, and virtual screenings for $14. So plan your budget accordingly for this once-a-year opportunity. You can also buy a sampler of 10 films (SOLD OUT) tickets for $108 ($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 we can all be proud of.

Opening Weekend

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

The opening night film is always a sellout and a surefire way to ensure you jump into this local event with a bang! 


This year’s opening night film is L’immensità, a French-Italian drama film in Italian with English subtitles, a story about the love between Clara and her children in Rome in the ’70s. Family dysfunction and emotional turmoil are set in a time of TV variety shows still in black and white, societal advances, and family models that now seem outdated.

Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes

Max Roach drumming on stage and gazing at the camera, with a couple band members in the background (black and white).
Max Roach, drumming with his band.

The documentary for opening night is Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes. The film explores the life and music of the legendary drummer, composer, bandleader, and social activist. It is the story of a musician whose far-reaching ambitions were inspired and challenged by the inequities of the society around him.

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.

There are also three screenings of My Name is Merle! The documentary chronicles the rise and continued legacy of North Carolina’s renowned music festival — MerleFest.

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? Let us know in the comments!

Next Up: Merlefest!

The 2023 MerleFest lineup consists of more than 100 artists performing across 13 stages, including The Avett Brothers, Maren Morris, Tanya Tucker, Little Feat, Marcus King, Miko Marks, Black Opry Revue, Kruger Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Jerry Douglas, Scythian, The Waybacks, Jim Lauderdale, Donna the Buffalo, Andy May, and so much more.

In addition to world-class music, the Festival offers a large children’s activities area, called “Little Pickers Family Area,” a student showcase for children, “Pickin’ Place” for any musician to join in and jam, the Songwriters Coffeehouse, a Nature Walk, crafters, and over 70 vendors to shop from. Camping and RV areas are available at nearby River’s Edge Campground.

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