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As 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 22nd annual RiverRun will take place on March 26-April 5, 2020.
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 2019 Festival featured 172 films featuring 47 countries. RiverRun Film Festival screening venues during the 11-day Festival include a/perture cinema, Hanesbrands Theatre, UNCSA theaters, Bailey Park (outdoors) and SECCA. RED Cinemas is also a new location in Greensboro for a few showings.
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
Once the film lineup is announced (February 28 in 2020; 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 printed RiverRun Film Festival Guide or online film list to make your selections (and buy tickets) in advance.
Tickets will go on sale for members on March 2 and to the general public on March 4, 2020.
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 go by the Stevens Center box office on Fourth Street, or over the phone to avoid third party handling fees when buying online. Keep in mind that tickets vary in price from free, to weekday matinees at $6, student tickets at $10 and regular screenings at $12. So plan your budget accordingly for this once-a-year opportunity. You should also enter our giveaway on Facebook to win one of our prize packs, including four free tickets.
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.
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.
This year’s opening night narrative feature was Ode To Joy, with Martin Freeman, Morena Baccarin and UNCSA alumni Jake Lacy. This heartfelt comedy is based on a story from “The American Life.”
The documentary feature for opening night was This Changes Everything. This in-depth look into gender disparity in Hollywood feels very relevant for our current climate.
The RiverRun Gala is held the first Friday of the Festival at the Millennium Center from 9 – 1:00 AM. This is one of the Festival parties that is open to the public with filmmakers and film industry guests in attendance and a cash bar. Tickets are $20 and are available at the door, at the Stevens Center box office, and on the website. We are also doing a giveaway for two sets of two tickets on our Facebook page.
With 172 films to choose from, there is something for everyone!
2019 Special Screenings included a showing of No Country For Old Men featuring the premiere of an original live score by 1970’s Film Stock.
Family Day is another must-do featuring Saturday Morning Cartoons, a free screening of new animated shorts both Saturday mornings of the Festival and there was a free showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Bailey Park on Saturday, April 14th at 6:30 PM.
The Closing Day film was The Tomorrow Man, recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film stars Blythe Danner and John Lithgow. It is a romantic comedy about an older couple and some surprising twists in small-town America.
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. This year, more than 100 filmmakers and industry guests will 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 show time, 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).
Parking for UNCSA Films
When seeing films at UNCSA, park at the Gateway YWCA and use the free RiverRun Film Festival shuttle bus. The shuttle bus runs approximately every 20 minutes so, again, plan ahead to make sure you allow plenty of time to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your film’s start time. Enjoy!!
What is your favorite part of RiverRun?
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