This week, the curtain was raised on the 23rd annual RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem. With more than 1,500 submissions from around the world, it's full steam ahead with a few COVID-related caveats.
Following last year's cancellation due to health and safety concerns during the pandemic, RiverRun adapted, reaching new schools and students via Films With Class. That's a program that presents free screenings of documentaries for educational purposes. And Wednesday's launch event, which showcased some of the roughly 130 films to be screened this year, was streamed via YouTube.
During the festival, there will be a host of virtual films, alongside daily outdoor and drive-in movies. These screenings will be socially distanced and spread across the city. One of the returning venues is the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), but this year, the films will be shown on the lawn.
RiverRun Executive Director Rob Davis says there are opportunities even during challenging times if you look for them.
“We have a wonderful screen, a wonderful sound system there,” says Davis. “And some of those are going to be North Carolina films. And so for those we're hoping that some of the filmmakers will actually join us, and they can introduce the film, and actually I think at SECCA there may be a few question-and-answer sessions afterwards.”
RiverRun 2021 runs May 6-16, with all ticketing online.
The opening night film will be Dream Horse starring Toni Collette and Damian Lewis — a movie originally planned for the closing night of the 2020 RiverRun International Film Festival.