The 11th Annual Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF), kicks off Tuesday, June 7th and concludes Sunday, June 12th, 2022, showcasing 171 award-winning film premieres from the U.S. and 22 countries.
In 2022, RIFF celebrates the theme, “Turn Out Richmond,” which will be highlighted in several signature events. Turn Out symbolizes the heart of creativity sustaining, building, and supporting the Commonwealth of Virginia by turning out and showing up for our community.
Kicking off the 2022 festival is the Opening Night Feature, A Song For Hope: The Ryan Anthony Story written & directed by Chris Haigh from Manchester, England. This special opening night film is about turning out for each other in the midst of highs and lows and finding a sense of community. It tells the inspiring story of Ryan Anthony, the renowned principal trumpet of the Canadian Brass and the Dallas Symphony, and his ability to live life to the fullest through his passion for music and his audience, and his refusal to allow an oncoming affliction affect his love of his art and performance.
This year’s Closing Night Film on Sunday, June 12th is Mixtape Trilogy, an engaging documentary feature starring the Indigo Girls, Vijay Iyer, and Talib Kweli. The film is directed by veteran documentary filmmaker, Kathleen Ermitage, and it inspires the hearts of its viewers and artists alike as it explores one of the most intense and unique relationships between people who rarely meet: music artists and their fans.
A few other notable films screened during the week include:
The Virginia premiere of Oleg directed by Nadia Tass. Oleg tells the incredible life story of Oleg Vidov. Born in communist Russia to a teacher, by the age of 25, Oleg had become one of the Soviet Union’s most celebrated actors of his time. However, no amount of fame could save him from the political system that tried to control his life. He married into General Secretary Brezhnev’s inner circle only to wind up blacklisted, threatened with death, and forced to defect to the West. Guests will be present for this premiere, including Oleg’s wife, Joan Borsten, a journalist and producer on the film along with many other notable projects.
Other notable feature docs include Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival featuring Nashville music legends, John Hiatt & Jerry Douglas and directed by Ted Roach and Lagan Sebert; The Race Epidemic, a documentary feature addressing current recent events of Asian discrimination among communities following the pandemic, directed by Tony Shyu; Absolute Power: Nasdaq Exposed written and directed by Bryan O’Connell; Syria’s Schools Under Attack directed by Darren Conway; and Chasing Childhood directed by Eden Wurmfeld and Margaret Munzer Loeb.
In the International narrative program, the festival will feature a large block of shorts and feature films including several award winning Richmond premieres such as Make the Devil Laugh (Japan) written by Ryuichi Mino and directed by Kazuhiko Mino; Sweet Disaster (Germany) written by Ruth Toma and directed by Laura Lehmus; Hideout (Taiwan) written and directed by Yen Kuang Chen; Princess (Italy) written by Peter Luisi and directed by Spotlight Media Productions AG; Holy Island (Ireland) directed by Robert Manson; The Tape (United Kingdom) directed by Martha Tilston; Palyad (India) directed by Shailesh Bhimrao Dupare; Fires in the Dark (France) directed by Adrien Lhommedieu, and many others.
Also in the lineup are several award-winning shorts including The Distance Between Us directed by Sian Elizabeth Croose and Jonathan Baker. This experimental film is a collective choral chronicle, which draws together contributions from 130 singers from the UK, Ireland, and one from RVA; Divertimento, a narrative short written and directed by Keyvan Sheikhalishahi, which follows Jonas Olsen (stars Kellan Lutz), a chess player haunted by a tragic past who is given an opportunity to participate in a mysterious game, Divertimento; Wouldn’t Mean Nuthin’, a narrative short about a poet whose suffering from writer’s block. He decides to go on a double date to try and reignite his passion and find a new muse, and ends up being reunited with his ex and original muse in the midst of the date.
Featured in the local spotlight are several this year including Headwaters Down directed by Justin Black, Will Gemma, and Dietrich Teschner; the narrative short, A Little Sun written and directed by Danny Caporaletti; Ratt’s Life, a narrative feature directed and written by Grayson Wolfe. Headwaters Down tracks a group of friends who trail down the beloved James River featuring some of its beauty, historical context, and environmental challenges. A Little Sun is about young love and that inevitable moment when harsh realities of the modern world swallow our youth and propel us into adulthood, whether we’re ready for it or not, and Ratt’s Life follows Anthony, a man with a terminal illness that only has two weeks left to live. Anthony decides to go out with a bang, and what ensues is a tragicomic film that keeps you immersed each step of his journey. Revenge of the Electric Car is another local short written and directed by Rikki Stinnette. It’s a narrative short that follows the story of a young girl whose mom has rheumatoid arthritis. It highlights the difficulties both have to face from their perspectives of dealing with the illness, and how they overcome it.
Capping off the local spotlight series is the documentary feature, InJustice: Hidden Crisis in Virginia’s Prisons produced by Sarah Sloan and Nick Szuberla & the ACLU Virginia highlighting some of the current challenges Virginia faces in its criminal legal system.
In addition to the nightly films, live music, and annual special events, also featured this year will be the Turn Out Richmond Planet Signature Event which will open with a film premiere of the documentary, Richmond On Paper. Birth of a Planet directed by Sylvester R. Tucker. The film has very close ties to Virginia, highlighting many notable change agents from the 1920’s era, including John Mitchell, Jr., the first African American newspaper editor. A panel discussion will immediately follow about the film’s historical ties and our current intersections of culture, journalism, and social issues. Highlighted will be the Way Forward, integrity and diverse perspectives in journalism.