RiverRun International Film Festival will feature work by UNCSA alumni and students

School of Filmmaking alumnus Brett Haley returns to RiverRun International Film Festival with two narrative features. Haley (’05) directed and co-wrote “Hearts Beat Loud” which screens in the coveted slot of closing night film, and he wrote the screenplay for “And Then I Go,” which was produced by Rebecca Green (’01).

The films are among several with UNCSA connections that were selected for the festival, including the opening night film, “American Animals,” with Scott Clackum (’99) as co-producer and production supervisor. UNCSA alumni and faculty will moderate panel discussions, and students will serve as jurists and projectionists.

RiverRun International Film Festival, one of the premier film festivals in the Southeastern United States, takes place April 19-29 at venues throughout Winston-Salem. Visit their website for times, locations and ticket information.

Hearts Beat Loud

"Hearts Beat Loud" will be the closing night film at RiverRun International Film Festival.

“Hearts Beat Loud” stars Ted Danson, Toni Collette and Blythe Danner in the story of a father and daughter who form an unlikely songwriting duo in the summer before she leaves for college. Also appearing in the film are UNCSA School of Drama alumni Quincy Dunn Baker (’05), Alex Reznik (‘01) and Michael Abbott Jr. (’00). Other alumni involved with the film include Tiffany Little Canfield (Drama ‘00), who was casting director, and Zach Sievers (Film ’06), who was sound designer and supervising sound editor. Abraham Bengio, who will graduate from the Film School in May, was assistant to Haley.

“Hearts Beat Loud” was also the closing night film at Sundance Film Festival in January, where it had its world premiere. It is scheduled for release on June 8.

Film critic Brian Tallerico, writing for RogerEbert.com, said “Hearts Beat Loud” is a “truly sweet, funny, and downright likable comedy. …This is Haley’s best film, his most character-driven, gentle, and ultimately moving.”

Haley’s “The Hero” screened last year at RiverRun.

And Then I Go

"And Then I Go" is one of two films screening at RiverRun that were produced by Rebecca Green.

“And Then I Go” had its world premiere at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival. It won Feature of the Year at the New Hampshire Film Festival and an Audience Award and Jury Award at Rome International Film Fesitival USA.

Based on the novel “Project X” by Jim Shepherd, the film was released last summer. In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release.

Jennifer Haire (Film ’02) was line producer and unit production manager; Matthew Zboyovski (Film 01) was production supervisor; and Drama alum Abbott appears as Flake’s father.

American Animals

"American Animals," produced by Scott Clackum, is the opening night film at RiverRun.

“American Animals,” which opens the festival, premiered at Sundance, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. The story of four young men who mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history was shot in and around Charlotte and Davidson College. It is expected in theaters June 1.

Green also was co-executive producer for “Saint’s Rest,” a female-driven musical drama which has its world premiere at RiverRun. Two estranged sisters who haven’t seen each other since their mother’s funeral several years ago are reunited in their hometown of Grinnell, Iowa.

Several short films with UNCSA Film School connections will be screened.

Those selected for the NC Shorts programs (with information available at press time) include:


"Shades" will screen in the North Carolina Shorts program at RiverRun.

“A God Among Us” written by Film alumni Ryan Davis (’10) and Aaron Hammersley (’08), with Davis as director and Hammersley as producer;

“Redaction,” a film from third-year Film students Jason Thomas, Tyler Holender, Shelby Tyre and Emmilee Millhouse;

“Shades,” a 2017 fourth-year student film by Dri Damasceno, Abraham Bengio, Jason Thomas and Addison Sharp.

“Strange Kid,” from 2017 alumnus Elizabeth Fletcher.

“Where Mothbloods Bloom, from third-year Film students Grant Conversano, Kevin Cutrara and Dorian Thomas.

Three student films were chosen for the Kaleideum/Peppercorn Films program at RiverRun, a free event for audiences of all ages, at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 21. They include:

“Supernova,” a film by 2017 fourth-year students including Gavin Lankford, Alek Kosinski, Marty McCarthy, Zing Grem and Isaacs Phillips-London;

The Little Giraffe

"The Little Giraffe" will be shown as part of RiverRun's Kaleideum/Peppercorn Films program.

“The Little Giraffe,” a 2017 second-year animation by Anna Kamaroff.

“Tethered,” a 2017 fourth-year film by Elizabeth Fletcher, Chris Dold, Ilayda Yigit and Lauren Henderson.

RiverRun’s Saturday Morning Cartoons program at 10 a.m. on April 21 will include “Miner Difficulties,” an animation by third-year student Scott Smoot.

Miner Difficulties

"Miner Difficulties" will be shown during RiverRun's Saturday Morning Cartoons program.

During the Late Night Shorts program, 2006 alumnus Adam Wyatt Tate’s “Post Nuke” will be screened.

Aside from the screenings, UNCSA Drama alumni Celia Weston and Angus MacLachlan will participate in the Actor/Director/Collaborators panel at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 28. Weston, a RiverRun advisory board member and last year’s Master of Cinema honoree, and MacLachlan, writer and director of last year’s “Abundant Acreage Available,” will discuss the finer points of communication between performers and directors to achieve ideal results on both sides of the lens. 

Film faculty members Dale Pollock and Michael Miller will also moderate panel discussions. Pollock, a former Dean of the Film School, is responsible for bringing RiverRun to Winston-Salem from Brevard. He teaches cinema studies and producing at UNCSA, and he writes and speaks about film at festivals, schools and conferences around the world. Miller, whose credits include “Raising Arizona,” “Miller’s Crossing,” “Ghost World” and “Infinitely Polar Bear,” teaches film editing. 

by Lauren Whitaker

April 12, 2018