Cream of the Crop • 2023 Riverside Saginaw Film Festival Set for March 16-19th

7 Award Winning & Critically Acclaimed Films Poised to Screen at The Court Theatre

    icon Feb 23, 2023
    icon 0 Comments

If you are looking to catch a first tier assortment of contemporary films and documentaries, many of which have secured top honors at major film festivals and are up for Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, than you won’t want to miss the strong line-up of cinema set to screen at the 2023 Riverside Saginaw Spring Film Festival, which will be happening Thursday through Sunday, March 16-19th at Saginaw’s historic Court Street Theatre.

When it first started back in 2007 the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival began with a fundamental vision of showcasing the cream of the crop from high-caliber first release films sharing a common thread of substance that set the bar for artistic accomplishment.  Consequently, over the past 16 years Riverside has cultivated a well-deserved reputation for offering audiences throughout our region the only opportunity they have for screening a broad range of current dramatic narratives, documentaries, comedies, and foreign films receiving high praise from both critics and festivals across the globe wherever they have premiered.

“The way we configure the festival it’s possible to view this wide assortment of first-rate filmmaking over one long weekend,” comments Festival Chairwoman Irene Hensigner. “Previously, when we only held the festival once a year we had to showcase whatever films were available at that time, but since we started scheduling one festival in the fall and one in the spring, we can show more new films as they become available throughout the year.”

“This seems to be a banner year for independent films,” she continues. “We had a number of fine films to choose from that featured well-known directors and actors and are contenders for major awards including the upcoming Oscars. It seems that there is a new interest in producing films that tell powerful personal stories.  The seven films chosen for this upcoming festival have something for everyone:  mystery, romance, comedy, family, survival, history, and music.”

“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 about our festival: 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.  If people are interested in helping us sponsor a film, they can contact me about sponsorship opportunities, which are always appreciated.”

According to Irene, the majority of feedback received from patrons expresses eagerness and appreciation  to be able to see films they otherwise might have to go downstate to screen.  “We do not feature experimental films or first-run Marvel comic book blockbusters, and while we’ve featured short film contests in the past, we find those are not that well received.”

“What we are witnessing with this year’s selections are many first-rate independent films, many from debut directors,  that  are very serious and deal with powerful issues, and examine different aspects of the human condition in novel and insightful ways.”  

So without further ado, here is a breakdown of the schedule and films being shown at this latest installment of the 2023  Riverside Saginaw Film Festival.

AFTERSUN (2022) • 102 minutes

Showtimes: Thursday, March 16 • 4:00 PM / Saturday, March 18 • 10:00 AM

Twenty years after their last holiday at a fading vacation resort, 11-year-old Sophie treasures this special time with her loving and idealistic father, Calum, played by 2023 Oscar nominee Paul Mescal, who struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. 

As she dwells on these moments of adolescence 20 years later, Sophie attempts to reconcile with the father she loved and the man she didn’t know. In doing so, Sophie’s recollections become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship

This superb and searing emotional debut directed by filmmaker Charlotte Wells earned her top honors as winner of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival Touch Prize of the Critics’ Week Jury.

Aftersun is a film about belonging, aching loss, and making memories, and you will find yourself taking deep dives into personal pools of these elements, looking for your share of the sun. Wells' ability to capture the innocence of her past self, from a more mature and grown-up point of view is what makes her film into such an unusual piece of filmmaking.


YOU HURT MY FEELINGS • (2023) • 93 Minutes

Showtimes: Thursday, March 16 • 7:00 PM / Saturday • March 18 • 1:00 PM

Written and directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, this dramatic comedy delves into the longstanding marriage of a novelist, which becomes upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book.  Cast includes Amber Tamblyn, David Cross, Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

This cleverly observed, witty film delicately skewers its sharply drawn, imperfect characters’ insecurities, privilege, and narcissism. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies lead a uniformly superb, funny cast, as they pull everyone around them into the fallout of navigating whether loving someone also requires loving their work.


DECISION to LEAVE •  (2022) • 139 minutes

Showtimes: Friday, March 17 • 10:00 AM / Saturday, March 18 • 1:00 PM

From a mountain peak in South Korea, a man plummets to his death. Did he jump, or was he pushed? When detective Hae-joon arrives on the scene, he begins to suspect the dead man's wife Seo-rae. But as he digs deeper into the investigation, he finds himself trapped in a web of deception and desire.

Through its elliptical narrative approach, this stylish romantic melodrama from Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, who won the 2022 Cannes Film Festival ‘Best Director’ award,  doubles as a gripping murder mystery in which the procedural and emotional elements blend seamlessly. I

As the eccentric yet determined detective investigates the death, a meeting with the dead man’s alluring wife (Tang Wei) creates some sparks while also prompting suspicions about foul play. As their relationship evolves over the years to come, the director modulates the film’s tone between grounded and over-the-top, providing some compelling twists to complement his striking visuals.


TO: LESLIE • (2022) • 119 minutes

Showtimes: Friday, March 17 • 7:00 PM / Sunday • March, 19 • 10:00 AM

Inspired by true events, director Michael Morris’ drama set in West Texas tells the story of a single mother struggling to provide for her son (Owen Teague) when she wins the lottery and a chance at a good life.  But a few short years later the money is gone and Leslie is on her own, living hard and fast at the bottom of a bottle as she runs from the world of heartbreak she left behind.

With her charm running out and with nowhere to go, Leslie is forced to return home to her former friends Nancy and Dutch (Allison Janney, Stephen Root). Unwelcome and unwanted by those she wronged, it's a lonely motel clerk named Sweeney (Marc Maron) who takes a chance when no one else will. With his support, Leslie comes face to face with the consequences of her actions, a life of regret, and a second chance to make a good life for her and her son.  

This is a remarkably thoughtful indie film that doesn't wallow in despair as it gives us a downtrodden character who's used up her second, third and even fourth chances, yet still deserves another a shot of redemption. Starring 2023 Best Actress nominee Andrea Riseborough, Allison Janney and Stephen Root


THE QUIET GIRL •  (2022) • 194 minutes

Showtimes: Friday, March 17 • 1:00 PM / Sunday • March 19 • 7:00 PM

Set in rural Ireland of the 1980s, this drama follows a quiet and neglected girl as she is sent from a dysfunctional home to live with foster parents for the summer.  Quietly struggling at school and at home, she has learned to hide in plain sight from those around her. As she blossoms under the care of her new parents, she also discovers that in a house meant to be without secrets, she has found one.

Everything in this lovely, gentle, and heartfelt tale is made with the deepest sincerity and rewards your patience; plus it is packed with soulful portrayals and lovely imagery. Scottish Director Colm Bairead and his young star may work in hushed tones, but their talents sing out loudly. This marks his first narrative film and is nominated for a 2023 Academy Award in Best International Feature Film.


ALL THE BEAUTY & THE BLOODSHED • (2022) • 122 minutes

Showtimes: Saturday, March 18 • 7:00 PM / Sunday, March 19 • 1:00 PM

In this Oscar-nominated documentary, director Laura Poitras follows the life of artist Nan Goldin and her involvement in the down fall of the Sackler Family, the pharmaceutical dynasty who was greatly responsible for the opioid epidemic’s unfathomable death toll.

This is an epic, emotional, and deeply interconnected story about an internationally renowned artistic activist told through her slideshows, intimate interviews, ground-breaking photography, and rare footage of her personal fight to hold the Sackler family accountable for the overdose crisis.

While those more familiar with the artist might enjoy this film more, the most intriguing aspect of this documentary is when it focuses its lens directly upon the pharmaceutical dynasty greatly responsible for manufacturing the crisis, which appears to becoming an increasingly disturbing trend in these post-pandemic times.


TAR • (2022) • 158  minutes

Showtimes: Saturday, March 18 • 4:00 PM /

Set in the international world of Western classical music, the remarkably nuanced and powerful film centers on Lydia Tár, played by 2-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. Nominated for 6 Oscars, this musical drama written and directed by Todd Field, portrays the triumphs and troubles of a woman considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors, and the first female director of a major German orchestra. 

We meet Tár at the height of her career, as she's preparing both a book launch and much-anticipated live performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. Over the ensuing weeks her life begins to unravel in a singularly modern way. The result is a searing examination of power, and its impact and durability in today's society.

This poignant and revealing work of art does so many things so well, chief among them Cate Blanchett’s commanding performance as a complex and narcissistic conductor.  Most revealing is how despite her stellar accomplishments, she also happens to exhibit much of the same toxic behavior evident in powerful men. She uses and discards people in her life, especially young women. While her estimation of her talents doesn’t allow for even an inkling of humility, her intense drive, arrogance and narcissism leaves many in her wake, including her assistant Francesca (Noemie Merlant) and her wife Sharon (Nina Hoss). They are disposable, and subservient to Lydia’s desires.

Throughout the series of challenges that are mostly of her own making,  Lydia’s perception of her world and her place in it become shattered and re-defined.



Share on:

Comments (0)

icon Login to comment