2022 Riverside Saginaw Spring Film Festival Preview

Showcasing Top Notch Contemporary Cinema at The Court Theater April 21-24th

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Culture, Community Profiles,   From Issue 928   By: Robert E Martin

07th April, 2022     0

Since its inception back in 2007 and now in its 15th year of showcasing the cream of the crop from high-caliber first release films sharing a common denominator of substance fused with artistic accomplishment, the Riverside Saginaw Spring Film Festival is set to roll seven new award-winning and Oscar-nominated contemporary films the weekend of Thursday through Sunday, April 21-24th.

Valued and beloved by film enthusiasts throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region for offering audiences the only opportunity they have for screening a broad array of current dramatic narratives, documentaries, comedies, and foreign films that have registered strong praise from both critics & festivals around the globe wherever they have premiered, once again all the screenings will be taking place at Saginaw’s beautifully restored Court Street Theater.

Having gained traction with ever-growing audiences each consecutive year, back in 2018 Riverside started offering both a Fall & Spring Festival at multiple venues. However, last year they focused upon The Court Theater as the single venue to showcase the entire festival and test the waters after the Pandemic with their two-installment Fall Festival.

According to co-founder and Chairwoman Irene Hensinger, the move to a single venue engendered strong support and significant feedback. “Obviously, the pandemic changed many things for all of us, but people really liked the fact that we focused all the screenings at a single venue because even the most  avid filmgoer can now see all the films that we showcase in one weekend without having their heads drop off running from place-to-place and venue-to-venue,” she reflects.

“Plus, as a volunteer organization its very manageable for us having the festival at one venue not only in terms of staffing, but because there is plenty of room for social distancing. Additionally, the Court Theatre has very good and affordable concessions and are a very welcoming host.”

When asked if there was a difference in overall attendance paring the festival down to one venue, Irene notes that it was exactly the opposite. “With multiple venues we were often competing with ourselves,” she explains. “So overall each screening that we staged was augmented by greater numbers of attendees.”

“Ironically, this was one of the few benefits of covid,” she continues. “It showed us a different way to do things that people enjoyed and now we will be featuring three festivals throughout the year - two in the Fall and one in the Spring, which goes us more latitude to feature more films.  Moreover, the Court is a nice venue from an acoustical standpoint , especially with the different guest speakers we try to involve with various films, because it offers a stage, microphone, and P.A. system to the speakers can be heard.  As a venue, it’s really just about perfect for us.”

Each of the films playing at Riverside will be shown twice at the very affordable price of only $5.00 at the door. “We strive to make the festival affordable,” notes Irene, “so at Riverside people can see really excellent films at half the price of the mega-plex cinemas.”

“People I talk with at major film festivals like Sundance continue to be surprised at two things: first, the quality of films that come to this relatively small regional festival; and secondly, the fact we manage to live within a realistic budget, largely because of the grass roots support we’ve been fortunate to cultivate.”

According to Irene, the majority of feedback received from patrons is that they are eager to see films they otherwise might have to go downstate to screen. 

Additionally, The Riverside Saginaw Spring Film Festival is planning on conducting  some accompanying seminars tied into some of this year’s films, which feature highly topical subject matter.

Without further ado, here is a breakdown of the schedule and films being shown at this year’s  2022 Riverside Saginaw Spring Film Festival.

Riverside Saginaw Film Festival Schedule   April 21-24, 2022

Worst Person in the World (2021) • Thursday • April 21 • 7:00 PM & Saturday • April 23 • 4:00 PM

This film serves as a chronicle of four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigated the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is. Which career, which boyfriend, and whether or not she wants children and at what cost?

This film premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, with Renate Reinsve winning the award for Best Actress for her performance in the film. At the 94th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay and has received a total of 84 nominations and 18 wins at various films festivals throughout the world.


Catch the Fair One (2021) • Friday • April 22 • 4:00 PM & Saturday • April 23 • 1:00 PM

A former champion boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. Premiering at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2022 and winner of the Tribeca Audience Award, we follow native-American prize fighter Kali Reis as she goes undercover in a local sex-trafficking ring, hoping that it will lead her to her missing sibling.

Driven singularly to find her sister, she is not trying to save the world or to bring down the patriarchal structures of this criminal organization let alone of society; and so her fast-unravelling story of recovery and revenge might seem very simple. Yet when shaking  this particular tree, all kinds of American ugliness and injustice are exposed, ensuring that this is a film with a wider sociopolitical resonance.

Hensginer notes that the Riverside committee is hoping to line-up a speaker to address this disturbing topic of sex-trafficking.


Blue Bayou (2021) • Friday • April 22 • 1:00 PM & Saturday • April 23 • 7:00 PM

As a Korean- American man raised in the Louisiana bayou works hard to make a life for this family, he must confront the ghosts of his past as he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home.

This American drama had its debut at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. From award-winning writer/director Justin Chon, Blue Bayou is the moving and timely story of a uniquely American family fighting for their future. Antonio LeBlanc (Chon), a Korean adoptee raised in a small town in the Louisiana bayou, is married to the love of his life Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and step-dad to their beloved daughter Jessie. Struggling to make a better life for his family, this film offers a grounded, real-life look at the current state of the immigration system in this country.  

Additionally, a speaker is being lined-up to address the topic of immigration at this screening.


Parallel Mothers (2021) • Thursday • April 21 • 4:00 PM & Sunday • April 24 • 7:00 PM

Penelope Cruz stars in the story of two mothers who give birth the same day. This Spanish film, written and directed by celebrated auteur Pedro Almodovar, who has worked with Cruz since the start of her career, had its premier as the opening film of the 78th Venice International Film Festival, where Cruz as awarded Best Actress. It also received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Score.

Two women, Janis and Ana, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and became pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which by chance develops and complicates, and changes their lives in a decisive way.


C’mon, C’mon (2021) • Friday • April 22 • 700 PM an Sunday • April 24 • 1:00 PM

This remarkable film starring Joaquin Phoenix and newcomer Gaby Hoffman secured 12 wins and 49 nominations at various film festivals around the globe. 

Centering around a radio journalist who embarks upon a cross-country trip when his sister asks him to look after her son, he decides to show his energetic nephew what life is like away from Los Angeles.

The film had its world premiere at the 48th Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2021, and was released in limited theatres on November 19, 2021.  It has received acclaim from critics, with praise for its performances, direction, and cinematography.


Jockey (2021) • Saturday • April 23 • 10:00 AM and Sunday • April 24 • 10:00 AM

This work centers upon an aging jockey (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who has his sights set upon winning a final championship for his longtime trainer (Molly Parker) who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years – and injuries – have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion.

Suddenly, the arrival of a young rookie rider (Moises Arias), who claims to be his son, and whom the jockey takes under his wing, further complicates the path to fulfilling his dream.

This film won a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival and also won the NBR Top Ten Independent Films honors.


Flee (2021)  Documentary/Animation/Biography • Friday • April 22 • 10:00 AM and Sunday • April 24 • 4:00 PM

According to Hensinger, while the Riverside Film Festival usually does not feature animated films, this unique animated documentary was nominated for three Oscar Awards this year for Best International Film, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Animated Feature, which created an exception to the rule.

Flee tells the extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time. Scraps of memories are sometimes all we have of the people we loved and lost, and Amin compiles them together to speak about his deep bond with his family, his struggle to reconcile his sexuality with his conservative cultural background, and the trauma of being stateless.

The power to concoct a line or boundary that keeps some inside and others outside is rare and rarified, and the inclusion vs. exclusion that is established by that geography has in turn shaped the world. A country can be a home, and a home can be erased, and the aching, lovely “Flee” traffics in the space between belonging and wandering.

For more information please visit www.riversidesaginawfilmfestival.org or their Facebook page.  Admission is $5.00 for all films.






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