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The RiverRun International Film Festival announced the full lineup of films for the 14th annual Festival, running April 13-22, 2012. This year RiverRun will screen 140 films, which includes 59 features and 81 shorts.

“We’ve put together a fantastic lineup of films for this year’s Festival, ranging from hysterically funny comedies and powerful issue documentaries to groundbreaking independent works and critically-acclaimed international movies,” said RiverRun Executive Director Andrew Rodgers. “Once again, we’ve selected some of the best cinema from around the world to share with our audiences – and I believe we’ve put together our best program yet!”

The Festival will open on April 13 with a screening of ONE NIGHT STAND, a brilliant documentary that peeks behind the curtain to show the amazing creative process of some of Broadway’s best, and will close on April 22 with Fred Schepisi’s THE EYE OF THE STORM, about an upper-crust matron (Charlotte Rampling) and her adult children (Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis). In between, the Festival will feature a wide variety of features, documentaries, shorts and animation in competition sections, as well as many films in non-competition sidebars. Additionally, UNCSA alum Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl, All the Real Girls) will receive RiverRun’s 2012 Emerging Master Award, following a screening of BRIGHT STAR on April 20. Also, for this year’s Centerpiece Premiere on April 18 at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, RiverRun will show THE HUNTER, about a man (Willem Dafoe) sent to the Tasmanian wilderness to hunt an endangered animal.

Included in the non-competition lineup this year is a Spotlight on Science Fiction Favorites from the 60’s and 70’s, featuring classics from Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky,Woody Allen and others. Additional sidebars include a new Focus section and the second year of Altered States: New Directions in American Cinema, which features new works by young American filmmakers.


NARRATIVE COMPETITION: The 2012 Narrative Competition is incredibly diverse including films from around the world that range from fast paced thrillers to dream-like dramas. The films in the Narrative Competition are eligible for jury prizes and the Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.

ELENA  – Russia / Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
The ages-old adage that a mother will do anything to protect her children finds new meaning in the domestic stunner Elena. When her well-to-do husband takes ill and threatens to excise her parasitic son from the will, Elena must take desperate measures to ensure the security of her progeny.

THE FAIRY- France / Belgium / Directors: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy
From the filmmaking team that delighted RiverRun audiences in 2009 with Rumba comes this new lighter-than-air comedic fable, filled with inspired gags and choreographed wonders, about a woman who thinks she’s a fairy and the man who believes in her.

FOUND MEMORIES – Argentina / Brazil / France / Director: Júlia Murat
Life is simple and habits beat a warm, familiar cadence in an aging, off-the-map Brazilian village. The sudden appearance of Rita, a dynamic young photographer, disrupts the monotony however, and sets a series of changes in motion that transform daily life in unexpected ways.

KEEP THE LIGHTS ON – USA / Director: Ira Sachs
This intense film follows the relationship between a man and his closeted lover. What begins as a highly charged first sexual encounter soon becomes something much more. As the two start building a home and life together, each continues to privately battle their own compulsions and addictions.

LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE – Hong Kong / Director: Johnnie To
A low-level gangster, a bank officer and a cop find their fates entwined at the onset of the global economic crisis, when fear and panic seem to take hold. As a result of actions that each takes, their moral compass is tested on a day when clear thinking is already in short supply.

MONSIEUR LAZHAR – Canada / Director: Philippe Falardeau

An endearing and eager Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a teacher who died under mysterious circumstances at a French Canadian elementary school. His presence quickly becomes essential to the grieving and shell-shocked students in this affirming masterpiece, a 2012 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

OSLO, AUGUST 31st – Norway / Director: Joachim Trier
Anders is a fortunate but deeply troubled man battling addiction. As part of his rehab he is sent for a job interview in the city, but instead uses the opportunity to wander and visit old friends, reawakening personal demons in his search for love and a new life.

THE STUDENT – Argentina / Director: Santiago Mitre
A gritty, energetic university initiates a young man into the fast-paced, cutthroat system of student politics in Buenos Aires, where the students are refreshingly activated in constructing their campus experience. But the line between sexual and political power becomes far more blurred than their textbooks would confess.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS – UK / Director: Andrea Arnold
The fearless Andrea Arnold, director of 2009’s critically-acclaimed Fish Tank, reinvents Emily Bronte’s epic love story in a fresh, visually arresting way. A poor boy of unknown origins is taken in by the Earnshaw family, where he develops an intense relationship with his foster sister.

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION: The 2012 Documentary Competition includes plenty of commentary on the issues that have so far defined the 21st century. From global warming to American greed to the issue of gay rights to the collapse of US manufacturing, the topics of these works are sure to spark discussions. The films in the Documentary Competition are eligible for jury prizes and the Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.

THE BOY WHO WAS A KING – Bulgaria / Germany / Director: Andrey Paounov
Paounov’s film tells the fascinating story of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who at the age of six became the Tsar of Bulgaria, only to then be overthrown by communist dissenters three years later. The film presents Gotha’s harrowing and complicated return to national politics after 50 years in exile.

CHASING ICE – USA / Director: Jeff Orlowski


One of the most visually stunning films made about global climate change, Orlowski’s work demonstrates how renowned photographer James Balog has captured incontrovertible proof of vanishing glaciers across the Arctic. With astounding time-lapse photography, this film offers a visual face to this dire problem.

DETROPIA – USA / Directors: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
The city of Detroit may have suffered from the collapse of US manufacturing more than any other American city, and its residents have borne more than their share of economic hardships. But as this arresting film shows, the city hasn’t given up and is desperately trying to reclaim its sense of home.

ETHEL – USA / Director: Rory Kennedy
Who better to tell the life story of Ethel Kennedy (widow of the late Bobby Kennedy) than her youngest daughter, Rory? Incorporating stories told by many of the Kennedys themselves, this film paints a truly intimate, personal and deeply moving portrait of one of the greatest American political families.

INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE – Canada / Directors: Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky
Video games are big business, raking in untold millions for corporations around the globe, who peddle in the latest new releases. Not unlike the music or film industries, however, there are many young video game developers trying to go it alone and make their fortunes by making independent games. This film tells their story.

THE ISLAND PRESIDENT – USA / Director: Jon Shenk

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is credited with bringing democracy to his country. His next challenge is combating a threat that is much harder to control, the possibility of the entire country slowly disappearing under the sea.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – USA / Director: David Gelb
One wouldn’t expect to find the finest sushi restaurant in the world in the basement of a nondescript Tokyo office building, but that’s where Sukiyabaski Jiro has worked for a majority of his 85 years. Now, facing retirement, his son Yoshikazu must take over from this sushi master.

LOVE FREE OR DIE – USA / Director: Macky Alston
Gene Robinson has become well-known since becoming the first openly gay person to become a bishop in a major Christian denomination. Through this personal story that details Robinson’s life and work, we are given a front-row seat to the Episcopal Church’s struggle to come to terms with homosexuality.

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES – USA / Netherlands / UK / Denmark / Director: Lauren Greenfield
Greefield’s impressive character-driven documentary chronicles a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.


SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS: This year, RiverRun’s non-competition Special Presentation section features a collection of stunning new films spanning all genres, ranging from comedies about line dancing to documentaries about Broadway musicals.

BRIGHT STAR – Australia / UK / Director: Jane Campion
Based on the true story of 19th century poet John Keats and his three-year romance with Fanny Brawne, Jane Campion’s literary biopic also stars UNCSA alum Paul Schneider, who has amassed an impressive array of striking and distinctive film roles. Following the screening, Schneider will participate in a discussion about the film and his career, and will be presented with RiverRun’s 2012 Emerging Master Award.

CHIMPANZEE – USA / Directors: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Celebrate Earth Day with a film from the Disneynature series that transports you to the tropical jungles of the Ivory Coast and Uganda to meet Oscar, an adorable baby chimp, whose playful curiosity and zest for discovery demonstrates the intelligence and ingenuity of one of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom.

THE HUNTER – Australia / Director: Daniel Nettheim
Willem Dafoe stars as a mercenary sent to the Tasmanian wilderness by a mysterious biotech company in search of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger. His job becomes complicated, however, by uncooperative and occasionally hostile locals, the unforgiving terrain and a young family who prompt him to question his assignment. CENTERPIECE PREMIERE

THE EYE OF THE STORM – Australia / Director: Fred Schepisi
Elizabeth Hunter (Charlotte Rampling) controls every aspect of her stiff upper-crust life: society, her staff, her children (played wonderfully by Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis); but the once great beauty will now carry out her most defiant act as she chooses her time to die. CLOSING NIGHT

THE GOOD DOCTOR – USA / Director: Lance Daly
Orlando Bloom stars as a socially aloof doctor who befriends a pretty young patient with a kidney infection. He likes having her around so much, in fact, that he starts tampering with her treatment in order to keep her sick and in the hospital near him.

ONE NIGHT STAND – USA / Directors: Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton
Ever wonder how much work goes into making a musical? In this brilliant and charming documentary, audiences are given a back-stage pass to watch the creative process as a collection of Broadway’s best artists race to create, rehearse and perform a series of 20-minute musicals… all within 24 hours. OPENING NIGHT

QUEENS OF COUNTRY – USA / Directors: Ryan Page & Christopher Pomerenke
Jolene (Lizzy Caplan) lives in a fantasy world of bygone country songs. When she discovers a lost iPod with her boyfriend (Ron Livingston), she becomes convinced that the owner is her soul mate and is thrust into a sexy, heartwarming and hilarious adventure while searching for the iPod’s true owner.

RETURN – USA / Director: Liza Johnson
A soldier, dazzlingly played by Linda Cardellini, returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to her children, friends, job and loving husband, played by 2011 Emerging Master honoree Michael Shannon. But the PTSD she suffers from makes every day a struggle.

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT – USA / Director: Hal Needham
A maverick racecar driver is hired to run a tractor-trailer full of beer over county lines with a pesky sheriff in hot pursuit. To coincide with the release of his memoir, Stuntman!, RiverRun has invited legendary Hollywood stuntman and director Hal Needham to reflect on this film (his directorial debut) and his illustrious career.

Spotlight on Science Fiction Favorites: Rather than focusing on a specific country, the 2012 Spotlight will showcase a particular genre – Science Fiction – and will include landmark films of the genre, cult classics, campy B-movies and even a comedy. This Spotlight was designed to highlight seminal works of Science Fiction film from the 60s and 70s, specifically pre-Star Wars. The films selected include in this section include:

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY – USA / UK / Director:  Stanley Kubrick
Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s story “The Sentinel,” this landmark 1968 epic is a mind-bending, sci-fi symphony. Director Stanley Kubrick spent more than two years meticulously creating the most “realistic” depictions of outer space ever seen, pushing the limits of narrative and special effects toward a meditation on technology and humanity.

THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN – USA / Director: Robert Wise
A deadly alien virus is brought to Earth when a research satellite crashes near a tiny Arizona town. A team of scientists is recruited from labs all over North America to don radiation suits and race against time to destroy the virus. This film returns director Wise to the genre he first explored with The Day the Earth Stood Still.

LOGAN’S RUN – USA / Director:
Set in a dystopian future where population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained by killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty, this cult classic follows the title character as he attempts to escape from society’s lethal demand.

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH – UK / Director: by Nicolas Roeg
In this deeply allegorical science-fiction drama, an alien lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his home planet, which is suffering from a severe drought. The film achieved cult status for David Bowie’s performance and the surreal imagery of director Nicolas Roeg.

SLEEPER – USA / Director: Woody Allen
In Allen’s futuristic comedy, a neurotic health food store owner is cryogenically frozen in 1973 and defrosted 200 years later in an inept totalitarian state. A mix of bizarre sight gags and clever one-liners, Allen’s film is filled with plot points that parody or spoof the works of H.G. Wells, George Orwell and other sci-fi greats.

SOLARIS – SOVIET UNION / Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, Tarkovsky’s masterpiece centers on a widowed psychologist who is sent to a space station to investigate the mysterious death of a doctor, as well as the mental problems plaguing the dwindling number of cosmonauts on the station.

SOYLENT GREEN – USA / Director: Richard Fleischer
Set in the future, as Earth suffers from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty and global warming, a New York police detective finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.

ALTERED STATES: NEW DIRECTIONS IN AMERICAN CINEMA: With technological breakthroughs and new distribution models rapidly democratizing the landscape of the motion picture industry, this program features a new wave of exciting, independent American filmmakers who are exploring new territory within the medium.

BAD FEVER – USA / Director: Dustin Guy Defa
Fixated on securing a gig at a second-rate Salt Lake City comedy club to impress a street urchin girl he’s befriended, socially adrift naïf Eddie sets down a heartbreakingly hopeless path in seeking to forge the real human connection that’s always eluded him.

GREEN – USA / Director: Sophia Takal
Sensitive NYC dilettante Genevieve retreats to a rural Virginia cottage with her boyfriend Sebastian, a pedantic journalist working on a story about sustainable farming.  When Genevieve befriends saccharine local Robin, however, a tense triangle of brooding jealousy and attraction develops that tests the self-control of all.

KEVIN – USA / Director: Jay Duplass
Filmmaker Jay Duplass’ documentary investigates the story of Kevin Gant, an inspired and beloved Austin musician who disappeared from the scene in 1995. Who is Kevin? What happened to him and can he get back what he lost? Features a special live musical performance from Kevin Gant.

A LITTLE CLOSER – USA / Director: Matthew Petock
In a backwater Virginia town, a single mom struggles to raise two unruly boys growing increasingly independent and preoccupied with the opposite sex. Petock’s debut feature presents a moving and naturalistic sketch of a working-poor family trying desperately to keep their heads above water.          

MAGIC VALLEY – USA / Director: Jaffe Zinn
On the surface, the small town of Buhl, Idaho appears the picture postcard of a wholesome, close-knit Western community.  The daylong search for a fish farmer’s missing daughter unearths strata of civil dysfunction and unrest that belie its unassuming exterior, however, in this grippingly atmospheric piece.

PILGRIM SONG – USA / Director: Martha Stephens
A recently laid-off high-school music teacher embarks on a cathartic solo backpacking adventure along Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace Trail, seeking to rediscover a lost sense of personal fulfillment. UNCSA alum Martha Stephens (Passenger Pigeons) returns to RiverRun with her quietly assured and gently arresting second feature.

SAWDUST CITY – USA / Director: David Nordstrom
An estranged pair of brothers reunite for a frostbitten Wisconsin Thanksgiving, and the family bonds are quickly re-formed as the daylong search for their alcoholic father leads to a whirlwind tour of the local dives full of bittersweet revelry and revelation.

SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS – USA / Directors: Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson
Technology-obsessed Sarah finds the chaos and unpredictability of her recent pregnancy daunting, sparking an impulsive road trip to reconnect with her absentee mother living in parts unknown out in the Western desert. Howell and Robinson’s film dazzles as a comic coming-of-parenthood tale for the internet age.

FOCUS: This year RiverRun introduces a new non-competition sidebar, featuring films of all shapes and sizes. Including films from emerging talents, RiverRun alums, veteran filmmakers and living legends alike, this section highlights a variety of film styles and stories, presenting a collection of some of our favorites.

ANDREW BIRD: FEVER YEAR – USA / Director: Xan Aranda
An amazing amalgamation of concert footage, studio work and personal introspection, this documentary delves deep into the life of musician Andrew Bird and follows him along his year-long rigorous tour across the country ending with the concert in his hometown of Chicago.

CRAZY HORSE – USA / France / Director: Frederick Wiseman
Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his lens on the world famous Le Crazy Horse de Paris, a landmark nude dance club in Paris.  Priding itself on world class choreography, this club sets itself apart by mixing burlesque with Broadway-like numbers as well as Cirque de Soleil style feats. 

DARWIN – Switzerland / Director: Nick Brandestini
An isolated community, Darwin, CA, population 35, prides itself as a city on the fringes of society, one who doesn’t need the government. Yet, the town is fragile and depends more on the outside world than it realizes. This documentary shows that Darwin is a true, unique American story.

GIRL MODEL- USA / Russia / Japan / France / Directors: Ashley Sabin and David Redmon
This documentary is a unique examination into the, not so glamorous, world of international modeling. Following a 13 year-old girl from Siberia who dreams of making it big, the scout that finds her and the people in the industry she encounters, this film reveals a world rarely seen by outsiders. 

THE INVISIBLE WAR – USA / Director: Kirby Dick
An intensely powerful and emotional documentary, this astonishing new film from Oscar-nominated documentarian Kirby Dick (Twist of Faith) details just how vast a problem sexual abuse and rape are within the United States military today and how poorly it is being handled.

THE SALT OF LIFE – Italy / Director: Gianni Di Gregorio
In this follow-up to the RiverRun 2010 hit, Mid-August Lunch, we catch back up with Gianni who is attempting to have a wild love affair, in an effort to spice up his life, but ends up hilariously and poignantly unsuccessful in his endeavors.

SEE GIRL RUN – USA / Director: Nate Meyer
Featuring Robin Tunney and Adam Scott, this film sheds both a comic and poignant light on the problems of letting the “what ifs” of past romantic involvements get in the way of the love that is right in front of your face.

SEMPER FI: ALWAYS FAITHFUL – USA / Director: Tony Hardmon and Rachel Libert
After the young daughter of a life-long Marine dies of a rare form of leukemia, his search for answers, portrayed in this stirring documentary, leads to the startling discovery that the Corps had been covering up the largest water contamination incident in American history… at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

THE TENTS – USA / Director: James Belzer
New York Fashion Week, one of the most photographed, reported and attended events in the fashion world, is put under the microscope in this film by James Belzer. Chock full of interviews with legendary fashion icons, Belzer’s documentary conveys the history and importance of those famous white tents.

UNDER AFRICAN SKIES – USA / Director: Joe Berlinger
Twenty-five years after his album “Graceland” became an international sensation, musician Paul Simon returns to South Africa to reconnect with his collaborators and perform again with them. He also sits down with his most vocal critics, who asserted in the 1980s that he hindered the fight against apartheid.

LATE NIGHT:  Every year, RiverRun searches for films that shock, scare or otherwise tantalize late night thrill-seekers. The 2012 Late Night lineup is no exception to this standard.

After being dumped by both his girlfriend and his band, Alex is in a depressing rut, toiling away at his comically pathetic dead-end job. When he gets the opportunity to leave his life behind and go on a bizarre cross-country music tour with a new, eccentric friend, Alex jumps at the chance.

FRIDAY THE 13th – USA / Director: Sean S. Cunningham
In honor of the fact that RiverRun opens on Friday the 13th this year – not something likely to reoccur often – we just couldn’t resist the obvious! And so, fans of campy horror, enjoy our bonus opening night presentation of this cult classic, in which a group of summer camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown and mysterious killer.

GOD BLESS AMERICA – USA / Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
When a terminally ill man in his 40s meets a 16-year-old firebrand, the two launch into a Bonnie and Clyde-esque killing spree of reality TV stars, talk show hosts and anyone else corrupting American culture in this absurdly comic farce from director and RiverRun alum Bob Goldthwait (World’s Greatest Dad).

Once again, we’ve found a variety of ways to disturb and delight our late night audiences. Including the Oscar nominated animated short A MORNING STROLL, we think this year’s program will thrill those ready for some late night scandal.

FILMS WITH CLASS: In addition to our regular programming, RiverRun presents free public screenings to students and participating schools throughout the year and during the run of the annual Festival. This education outreach initiative, “Films With Class” is one of the most active components of RiverRun’s year-round activities. For this year’s Festival, the education department selected three films that will be screened privately for Forsyth County students and publicly during the festival.

Following the career of renowned abstract expressionist Hyman Bloom, Brisk’s film explores Bloom’s life from his birth in Latvia to his youth in Boston and his adult life as a Harvard student and artist in New England.  Audiences will come away with a unique look into an extraordinary artist’s life.

REMEMBERING FREDERIC – THE GENIUS OF CHOPIN – USA / Directors: Pam Howland and Daniel McKinny
Take a film exploration into the world of one of the most famous pianists of all time, Frédéric Chopin.  Through personal reflection, interviews and beautiful journeys through Chopin’s homeland of Warsaw, Poland, this film will enlighten and enliven audiences’ knowledge of the great composer.

WHY I WRITE: THE TWIN POETS – USA / Director: Sharon Baker
Life in poor, violence-ridden areas can be arduous for young children exposed to these harsh realities, but artists and social workers Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Albert Mills have made it their mission to help the youths in their Delaware neighborhood through the art of spoken word poetry and outreach.

COMMUNITY CINEMA INITIATIVE: For the second year, we will offer free community screenings to connect with audiences from throughout the community. This program also furthers our outreach efforts and ensures the Festival’s demographics match both the diversity of our local community and the diversity of the films we present.

ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE – USA / Director: Tom Shadyac,
This classic comedy about a goofy detective is RiverRun’s 2012 “Fido Frolic and Film” selection, where audiences are encouraged to bring their dogs to the film. Sponsored by PetSmart and The Winston-Salem Dash.

E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL – USA / Director: Steven Spielberg,
This Oscar-winning film about a boy and a stranded alien serves as a family-friendly introduction to RiverRun’s 2012 Spotlight theme on “Science Fiction Favorites.” Sponsored by Hanesbrands Inc.

WHY I WRITE: THE TWIN POETS – USA / Director: Sharon Baker
(See description above in “Films With Class” section.) Sponsored in part by the North Carolina Arts Council.

SHORTS: This year the Festival will be continuing the competitive Narrative, Documentary and Animated Shorts sections while adding, for the second time, special selections of North Carolina Shorts. This program will screen some of the best short films received from N.C. filmmakers this year in two different programs, while giving attendees a chance to support local artists.


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