Tonight, the Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF) kicks off at the historic Byrd Theatre, launching a week-long screening of more than 150 films. RIFF includes films from a wide range of genres and styles, from animated shorts to documentaries, and features works from over 35 countries.
The festival opens with “Nona”, a narrative feature produced by Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, Superman Returns) that follows Central America’s sex trafficking industry through the eyes of a young Honduran girl. It serves as a stark look into the world of modern sex slavery, and her harrowing odyssey to reunite with her mother.
The piece is written and directed by Bosworth’s husband and filmmaker, Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork). This is the first film the duo has produced together. Bosworth and Polish will present the film on opening night at the Byrd preceding a panel with leading experts on human trafficking. Bosworth will be awarded the festival’s 2018 Founder’s Award on behalf of the film.
Another standout film, documentary “Thank You For Your Service,” brings Governor Terry McAuliffe and Governor Ralph Northam to the Byrd this Sunday, where Northam will present McAuliffe with RIFF’s 2018 Pioneer Award. The film investigates the failed mental health policies within the US military and the deadly consequences to the troops. After the film, RIFF will host a Q&A with director Tom Donahue and leading experts on PTSD.
Among the eclectic selection of animated films is a Canadian short, “Disposable”, that will premiere Thursday for the first time in the US. The 13-minute short is composed of 18,875 individually taken frames and took over four years to complete. The trailer is haunting, a Coraline-esque stop-motion that takes place in a town where owning toys is against the law. After a lonely young boy makes an unlikely new friend, they set out to prove that everyone–and everything– is deserving of love and kindness. Emerging Filmmaker Jenna Provost wrote and directed the piece.
Television writer and producer Lee Aronsohn (The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men) will present his feature documentary “40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Band” this Thursday at the BowTie. The film follows Aronsohn’s quest to track down the scattered members of Colorado-based legends Magic Music in the search for an intangible, elusive destination: one last show.
The closing night film is narrative feature, “Buckout Road.” The horror film stars Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Dreamgirls) as a brilliant psychiatrist, faced with an urban legend turned reality, claiming a string of victims along the most haunted road in America. Following the screening of the thriller, there will be a discussion with Glover at the Byrd this Sunday, where Glover will be presented with the 2018 Legacy Award.
Among the other categories this year, are documentary shorts, experimental shorts, music videos, and musical features. There is something for everyone, as well a variety of Q&As, panels, and live music including London-based collective Ibibio Sound Machine, who will be performing at The National on Thursday.
The RIFF festival runs from Monday, April 23 to Sun., April 29 at the Byrd and BowTie Movieland at Boulevard Square. A more extensive schedule of events can be found here. A five-film pass is $40, tickets for VIP full access to film and music is $375, and a festival film package is $195 for all films. Prices vary for individual shows and can be found here.