(In text links included)
The festival began today with the FLOW inspirational speeches of several industry experts at 11 am at the Byrd Theater. FLOW is a creative conference of presentations from film industry professionals, prominent artists, and heads of industry, along with creative think tanks and breakout sessions incorporating the concept of flow in film and in a variety of creative disciplines. “Flow, also known as Zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) The RIFF is delving into some of these concepts, and looking to expand the discussion in creative disciplines through the conference.
The conference began at 11am at the Byrd Theater with inspirational speakers:
Heather Waters hosted the event. Heather is the Founder & Producer of the Richmond International Film Festival.
David Baldacci, International Best Selling Novelist & Producer.
Linus Karlsson Chairman/Chief Creative Officer, MING Utility & Entertainment, Creative Chairman, Commonwealth/McCann
Johnny Newman, Former NBA Player
Zoe Romano, Athlete/Ultra Runner & Writer
Jesse Vaughan, 24-Time Emmy Award Winning Director,
Linda Forem, Former Vice President & General Manager Of Radio One,
Sylvie Rokab, Emmy nominated, award-winning documentary filmmaker,
Jeffrey Blount is the author of two novels. Almost Snow White, winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards and Hating Heidi Foster, winner of the 2013 Readers Favorite Book Award for young adult literature.
Jeanne Meserve has been an anchor and correspondent for CNN and ABC News, winning two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and an Edward R. Murrow Award.
Kym Grinnage has been VP/General Manager of NBC12 since 2011.
Frank Hall Green is a New York-based film writer and director as well as a producer.
The event was followed by break-out sessions and panels with additional industry expert guest speakers from 1:15pm to 6pm at the Visual Arts Center.
The afternoon opened with a series of international films and shorts.
Unlikely Heroes (Switzerland)
The dramedy was directed by Peter Luisi, and starred Esther Gemsch, Karim Rahoma, and Komi Togbonou. The film centers on a woman looking for something to prove she is capable after her husband leaves her and her long-time friends abandon her at Christmas time. Instead of delving into a deep depression, a chance meeting with a non-profit asylum assistance organization provides the opportunity to donate her time to a group of asylum seekers through theater/art therapy over the holidays. She takes the initiative and gets to know these delightful characters as they decide they want to put on a real play in two weeks for New Years. Hilarious, heat-warming, and life changing events ensue for all making one wonder, will they be a success?
The sweeping vistas of Switzerland were a draw, and the completely stellar acting made it more than worth watching. The cast is extremely diverse and all very in the characters and sub-plots which draws the viewer is completely engrossing them in the plot. Color, 94 minutes, in Swiss and German with English subtitles.
Dad and Mum (France)
The comedic short was directed by Fabrice Bracq, and is a laugh-out-loud take on what children think their parents are doing behind a closed door. A great belly-laugh for those with children or know some. Color, 6 minutes, French with English subtitles.
The Japanese Dog (Romania)
The drama/comedy was directed by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu, and starred Victor Revengiuc, Serban Pavlu, and Ioana Abur. The film follows Costache in the aftermath of a flood, which strikes his village in Romania taking his wife Maria and all of their possessions. Living in a dilapidated house provided as shelter, the village is all he has left, except for an estranged son now living in Tokyo. His son, Ticu, hears of his mother’s death and father’s plight, and arrives unexpectedly with his Japanese wife and son to bring Costache back home with him. Costache must deal with a whole new family settle with his past, and make a decision of whether to move on or not.
It’s a serious and emotionally moving look into the life of a man living and coping with tragedy, pride of self-support, and the need to move forward in life. Color, 88 minutes, Romanian with English subtitles.
The drama is directed by Frank Hall Green, and stars Ella Purnell, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Geraghty, and Ann Dowd. The film focuses on Mackenzie, a young troubled teenager that is sent to live with her paternal uncle in Juneau, Alaska while her mother receives treatment in Seattle, Washington after the death of her husband. The relationship with the uncle turns incestuous forcing her to flee into the wiles of Alaska. She meets a lone backpacker while trying to find her way back to Seattle and her mother. Together, they find sanctuary as they cross the wilderness.
The adult subject matter seems to drive this award winning film. The direction and acting really draw one into the circumstances in a truly believable way. It is obvious why this film has won awards. Color, 98 minutes, English.
The festival wraps up tomorrow, March 1st with many more films at several locations, and culminating in a Red Carpet event for the awards ceremony at the Byrd Theater. Please go to the festival website for screening schedule, location and ticket information. (in text links included)