BY ROB DAVIS
Throughout the twenty-year history of the RiverRun International Film Festival, films by women and about women have been at the forefront. The 20thanniversary Festival, set to take place April 19-29, is no exception as women filmmakers, past and present, take center stage.
Four of the new films made by women and featuring women’s stories include RBG, The Judge, Leave No Trace and The Beginner. In RBG, filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen provide a captivating biography of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has become a pop culture icon while developing a breathtaking legal legacy. This 2018 documentary examines the private and public life of a Justice constantly fighting for equal rights for all citizens under the law. The Judge, directed by Erica Cohn, examines a woman judge working in the Middle East. The film is a legal drama about Judge Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman appointed to a Shari’s court, whose career provides rare insights into both Islamic law and gendered justice.
In Leave No Trace, director Debra Granik tells the story of Will and his teenage daughter, Tom, who have lived for years off the grid near Portland, Oregon. When they are discovered and turned over to social services, they have difficulty adapting and set out on a journey back to the wilderness as they confront their desire to live apart, yet be part of a community. German filmmaker Alexandra Sell’s first feature film, The Beginner, looks at a 58-year old German physician, who, seeing parts of her life drift in undesired directions, decides to resume a childhood passion – figure skating. New relationships and redefinitions of old relationships occur on this challenging, yet fulfilling, journey.
“From the Archives” is a section of RiverRun dedicated to preserving film history by shining the spotlight on the importance of screening film on 35mm prints. One of the guests will be Piper Laurie, 2018 recipient of RiverRun’s Master of Cinema Award, who will present her film The Hustler. Laurie’s career began in the 1950s with acclaimed performances on television and film including The Days of Wine and Roseson live television, and evolved to her work in Children of a Lesser God, Carrie and Twin Peaks. She will be seen in 2018 in White Boy Rickwith Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern. Laurie will participate in an on-stage program prior to receiving her Master of Cinema Award. Also in “From the Archives” will be a rare 35mm screening of Casablanca. Special guests will include Monika Henreid, daughter of Paul Henreid, Jessica Rains, daughter of Claude Rains and Liz MacGillicuddy Lucas, granddaughter of director Michael Curtiz, who will share insight into the making of this iconic film classic.
RiverRun’s “Spotlight” series highlights films around a specific theme. The 2018 Spotlight focuses on 20thFilms from 20thCentury Masters and includes a film by pioneering director Dorothy Arzner. Arzner was the first woman admitted to the Directors Guild of America and is credited with inventing the boom microphone. For a number of years, she was the only woman working as a director. Her 20thfilm, First Comes Courage, tells the story of a spy for the Norwegian underground, played by Merle Oberon, in World War II.
Past and present, women have been and are an essential part of the filmmaking community, and RiverRun is pleased to continue its tradition of highlighting their important contributions.
More information about the entire RiverRun schedule and complete ticketing details can be found at riverrunfilm.com.