As Durham prepares for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
(starting tomorrow—check out the INDY’s preview package
), Winston-Salem is getting ready for an ambitious film festival of its own. The 16th annual RiverRun International Film Festival
which attracts thousands of cinema fans each year, showcases features and shorts from all genres of independent film and from all over the world—plus industry guests, this year including Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone
director Debra Granik
Running from April 4th to April 13th, this year’s festival includes some productions with strong Triangle ties. Today, we’re reviewing three, all documentaries, that we saw.
Mipso in Japan
is a 16-minute documentary short that follows the young, Chapel Hill-based pop-bluegrass band
to Japan on their first major tour outside their comfort zone. While you’ll hear snippets of songs here and there, the majority of the film focuses on the band’s awkward interactions with Japanese fans and home video-style scenes of them enjoying such local activities as a Japanese bathhouse. If you’re a fan or relative of the band, you’ll probably love it, but for a general audience, there isn’t too much to see here.
Mipso in Japan - Trailer from Jon Kasbe on Vimeo.
If You Build It
, which is also screening at Full Frame, is the tale of two volunteers battling small town school boards and shrinking budgets in their efforts to expand students’ minds with experimental curricula at a high school in rural Bertie County, North Carolina. Bertie is one of the poorest counties in our state, and the fight between young activists and a board that is swayed only by grant money illustrates the melancholy that can envelop an area when the brightest young minds abandon their hometowns. Director Patrick Creadon (who was the cinematographer of Wordplay
) continues to impress with this full-length documentary, which features several narrative twists and turns along its 85-minute running time.
It’s Monday and the South is Rising
, a 20-minute documentary from director Jonathan Michels, highlights the Moral Monday protests at the General Assembly this past summer. Michels impresses with his directorial debut, and scenes of peaceful protesters being led away in zip-tied handcuffs will shock you—unless you're a resident of the Triangle, where, sadly, we’ve been living through these shameful events for months. But it’s a valuable primer for the rest of the country, which probably hasn't followed the action as closely as it unfolded.
"It's Monday and the South is rising" from Jonathan Michels on Vimeo.