Student and alumni work will be screened during RiverRun International Film Festival

Five short films produced by students in the School of Filmmaking will be screened during the RiverRun International Film Festival May 6-16. Also, two alumni-produced feature films are on the program, and alumni contributed to two additional films that will be screened.

RiverRun will feature 134 films representing 24 countries selected from more than 1,500 entries in a combination of virtual, outdoor and drive-in screenings. The schedule is available at

The student films to be screened in the NC Shorts programs are “In Our Nature,” “Kindred Kings,” “Pink, White & Blue,”  “Sideways,” and “Stuffed.” An alumni feature film, “Landlocked,” will screen in the Focus section, and an alumni documentary feature, “Life in the Sacrifice Zone,” will have its world premiere in the NC Stories section.

UNCSA is a title sponsor of the festival, a relationship that enhances the educational experience of students in the School of Filmmaking, said Interim Dean Dale Pollock. “RiverRun provides a tremendous platform for our students’ work to be seen, and it also allows our students to see exceptional independent films from around the world,” he said.

Leading trade publication Variety noted the beneficial relationship with RiverRun in naming the UNCSA School of Filmmaking to its list of the world’s top 50 film training programs.

Pollock stepped in to the temporary leadership role this year, having served as the second dean of the School of Filmmaking from 1999 to 2006. While he was dean, Pollock was instrumental in moving RiverRun from Brevard, North Carolina, to Winston-Salem, and he now serves on the festival’s board of directors.

Two UNCSA students will serve as jurors at RiverRun this year: rising fourth-year student Jenna Cusack will serve on the Narrative Shorts jury and rising third-year student Will Henderson will serve on the Narrative Features jury.

“Students who intern or serve as jurors for RiverRun get close-up, behind-the-scenes experience with a first-class film festival,” Pollock said.

"In Our Nature" will screen at RiverRun International Film Festival

"In Our Nature"

UNCSA students typically participate in RiverRun’s documentary pitch fest, presenting their ideas to a panel of expert judges in the hopes of being awarded a cash prize and recognition within the industry. This year third-year student Clarke Phillips submitted her film “Philly Drive” to the pitch fest. The winner will be announced during the festival.

“The pitch fest is a great learning opportunity for students, who will spend their careers selling their projects and their skill sets to industry insiders,” added Pollock.

More about the films

“In Our Nature” was written by Echo Wilson and Nick Bailey; directed and animated by Wilson; produced by Bailey; animation and coloring by Mckayla Singleton, Abby Davenport and Kamryn Szeliga; editing and sound design by Jacob Boyle; and music by Alexandra Franco Zorro. “In Our Nature” will screen in NC Shorts Program Two.

"Kindred Kings" will screen at RiverRun International Film Festival

"Kindred Kings"

“Kindred Kings” is an interdisciplinary project by students from four UNCSA conservatories: Design and Production (D&P), Filmmaking, Drama, and Dance. It  was co-written and directed by Tramaine Gray; co-written and produced by Jo Hatcher; cinematography and editing by Zachary Smith; production design by Romello Huins and Gray; costume design by Gray; makeup by Natosha Martin; music by Nick Parnell; and vocals composed and performed by Deandre Sevon and Mlaj. “Kindred Kings” will screen in NC Shorts Program Two.

“Pink, White & Blue" was directed and edited by Ash Malone, who also was sound designer; produced by Epiphany James, Ellie Emfinger and Erin Gallagher; cinematography by Ian Price; and music by Michael Gaffney. “Pink, White & Blue” will screen in NC Shorts Program One.

"Sideways" was written by Ben Trauner; directed by Daniel Robert Smith; produced by Thatcher Johnson-Welden; co-produced by Sam Varriale; cinematography by John Curtis; production design by Jordan W. Sayman; edited by Nikos Spiridakis; sound design by Micah Godsey and Nikos Spiridakis; music by Michael Gaffney; costume design by Lizzie Lovett; and wig and makeup design by Nic See. “Sideways” will screen in NC Shorts Program Two.

"Sideways" will screen at RiverRun International Film Festival


"Stuffed” was written by Willow Longbrake, who also was cinematographer; directed by Fer McFarlane; produced by Jenna Cusack and Julia Lofton Walpole; production design by Shelby Grzech; edited by Jack Hansen; music by Tyler Hawes; costume design by Brandi McKinnon; and wig and makeup design by Joan Paluska. “Stuffed” will screen in NC Shorts Program Two.

“Landlocked,” an alumni film written by Jonathan Foster (B.F.A Film ’03) and Tim Hall (B.F.A. Film ’11) from a story by Hall, who also directed and produced. Daniel Hansen (B.F.A. Film ’11) and Alexander Sablow (B.F.A. Film ’09) also produced. Sablow was cinematographer, and Hanson edited along with Kevin Tadge (B.F.A. Film ’09). Dustin Gooch (B.F.A Film ’09) is featured in the cast. Purvis Jordan (B.F.A. Film ’09) served as executive producer and Tiffany Luard (B.F.A. Film ’08) was an associate producer. “Landlocked” will screen in the Focus section.

“Life in the Sacrifice Zone,” an alumni film by Chad Nance (Film ’95) will screen in the NC Stories section. Nance’s first feature film documentary is about a group of people in Stokes Country who battled Duke Energy over coal ash spills and spurred one of the biggest cleanups in history.

Additional UNCSA connections include: Adam Tate (B.F.A. Film ’06), production supervisor for best picture Academy Award winner “Nomadland,” was the production manager on a film in the Special Presentations section called “Summertime”; and Liz Printz (B.F.A. Design and Production ’09) and Andrew Terlizzi (B.F.A. Design and Production ’06) were producers on the feature film “Thorp.”

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April 30, 2021