By Ryan Marr
Only a month after last year’s inaugural Rappahannock Independent Film Festival wrapped up, Creative Director Ryan Poe, along with several other key players in the local film community, holed up in a cottage in West Virginia to set to work debriefing, critiquing and planning for this year’s festival. Their year’s worth of blood, sweat, and endless movie screenings will culminate August 27-30, when, for four days, Fredericksburg will transform into a haven for independent filmmaking.
Events will take place throughout Downtown Fredericksburg, but the on-screen action will be limited to the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Theatre. There, film viewings will be broken up into 5 separate viewing blocks—a change from last year’s marathon screening—and will feature a wide variety of lengths and genres including a documentary about parrots, a feature-length drug thriller, and a short comedy about food allergies.
Beyond the film screenings, the RIFF festivities will also include a night of live music at the University Café, a beer interlude at Capital Ale House, and a late-night screening as well as a filmmaking workshop at the Fredericksburg Athenaeum on Amelia Street.
Despite drawing inspiration from bigger festivals, particularly the Newport International Film Festival in Rhode Island, RIFF remains unique among film festivals for the emphasis the organizers place on the filmmaker.
“I think that a lot of festivals focus on publicity and marketing,” Poe said. “With us, it’s more about the individual even if it doesn’t always mean the biggest bang for your buck.”
However, with a souring economy draining from the pool of potential sponsorships, Poe and Athenaeum Executive Director Paul Lewis were forced to work overtime to pull in donations from individuals to compensate for their lack of corporate sponsorships.
All that initiative hasn’t gone unnoticed either. This year’s crop of films were selected from a pool of 72—twice the number received in 2008—and feature work by filmmakers from locations as remote as South Korea, Russia and Argentina. Not to say that locals have gone underrepresented either—Poe estimates that about six Fredericksburg residents will have films on display.
For students, ticket prices range from $6 for entry to one screening block to $15 for a one-day pass and $50 for an all-access student pass, which grants admission to all of the festival’s activities.
Poe expects tickets to be available at the door for most events but warns that popular activities such as the filmmaking workshop will sell out. Tickets are available now at www.rifilmfestival.com.
Students interested in volunteering for the event can contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org