The Cream of the Crop in Contemporary Cinema

12th Annual Riverside Saginaw Film Festival Overview

    icon Oct 18, 2018
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“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” - Jean-Luc Godard

As the 12th annual Riverside Saginaw Film Festival gears up to showcase the cream of the crop from contemporary films released in the past year - all receiving top accolades from both critics and festivals across the country where they have premiered - the dynamic range of dramatic narratives, documentaries, comedic and foreign films that will be showcased from November 8th - 11th  is an illuminating excursion into both the pitfalls and possibilities that populate the human spirit.

With 15 feature films and 9 documentaries that will be shown on five screens at five locations, according to chairwoman Irene Hensinger, “Our fundamental goal and purpose with this festival is to showcase quality films spanning a broad range of topics that all share a common thread of substance.”

“I believe the strength of the festival exists in the films themselves that we’ve been able to bring into this region,” she continues. “People look forward to Riverside and audiences continue to grow each year, largely because audiences realize this is the only opportunity they will have to screen such a varied assortment of high-caliber first-release films that set the bar for artistic accomplishment.”

“We had to really take a sharp knife to narrow down our selections this year, because there are truly a lot of wonderful and really good films out there not coming to the Big Box theaters, which is good for us,” she notes. “Fortunately, we receive lots of support from local foundations, individuals, and corporations, which makes this festival possible and enables us to keep our ticket prices low.  The Traverse City Film Festival is not getting $14 per ticket and you need to get in line to get a ticket, while we’re at $6.00 because we strive to keep the festival affordable.”

“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.”

“We started Riverside back in 2007 with the idea of trying something out to see how things would go; and we’ve managed to keep the momentum going, which is very gratifying.  One thing all the films we showcase share in common is they are all new releases, including many that have not appeared in theaters yet,” she continues. “These are not experimental films that we feature, nor are they the ‘Big Box’ films either; but they are quality independent feature films and documentaries that deserve serious attention.”

“We always look closely at what other festivals
do; and for us, the biggest draw and appeal to our audience seems to center around foreign films and contemporary issue films dealing with topics like the economy, the environment, and the world situation.”

“Subjects can range from feminism to movies that simply exist for fun; but for the most part, these are ‘thinking’ people’s films. And a majority of the films we select have been nominated, or are winners in other film festivals, which is one of the things we look at when making our selections.”

This year films will be shown at The Court Street Theatre, Pit & Balcony, The Castle Museum, First Congregational Church and Hoyt Library. In addition to $6.00 single tickets, you can obtain a pre-festival pass for only $40 or a pass during the festival run for only $45 that is the best value. You can visit to view trailers and obtain tickets and passes. Moreover, people with festival passes can also obtain special discounts from 15 restaurants in Saginaw that are aligning and pledging their support to the festival.

Notable & Noteworthy

On World Polio Day and In advance of the festival on Wednesday, October 24th will be a special showing of Breathe at 7:00 PM at the Court Street Theatre. Sponsored Rotary Club of Saginaw, the suggested donation is $10.00 and this film is not included with a festival pass.

Based on a true story and set in 1958 England, Robin Cavendish contracts polio at age 28, is paralyzed and confined to bed, and is given only months to live. With the help of his wife Diana and her twin brothers, and the groundbreaking ideas of inventor Teddy Hall, Cavendish emerges from the hospital ward and devotes the rest of his life to helping fellow polio patients and the disabled.

This showing will raise money for the Rotary International PolioPlus polio eradication program. Since 1985, Rotary International and its clubs worldwide have contributed more than $1.8 billion, including matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to fight the disease and remains committed to eradicating it.  And Rotary volunteers have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries, along with its partners WHO, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In that span of time, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to 22 confirmed in only Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2017.

Opening this year’s festival at the Court St. Theatre  on Thursday, November 8th at 7 PM is The Wife (2018, USA, drama, 100 minutes, Rated-R). Joan and Joe (Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce) remain complements after nearly 40 years of marriage. Where he is casual, she is elegant. Where he is vain, she is self-effacing. And where he enjoys his very public role as the great American novelist, she pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm and diplomacy into the private role of a great man’s wife.    As Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for his acclaimed and prolific body of work, Joan starts to think about the shared compromises, secrets and betrayals.  This film also stars Christian Slater and Elizabeth McGovern.

In addition to the three films showcased in this special edition of The Review, which will have special events, directors, and cast members present for Q&A sessions, other festival highlights include Line Five, a new two-hour documentary created by Ann Arbor actor & filmmaker Barton Bund.

Bund and his environmentalist parents created this probing investigation examining the 60-year old Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac and the risks it could pose to the Great Lakes due to erosion and structural degradation. Following scientists, activists and Michigan residents, this film explores the potential dangers that could damage 700 miles of Michigan coastline if it leaks. Bund had roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Dunes, Age of Ice and Chicago Fire.  This screening will be attended by the Director. Line Five will screen on Friday, Nov. 9th at 7:00 PM at Pit & Balcony Theatre.

Other notable screenings consist of:

Leave No Trace (Iceland, 2017, drama, comedy, 89 min, NR)  This is the gripping tale, based upon a true story, of a father and his daughter who try to live off the grid and get caught. An Iraq war veteran and his daughter construct a perfect but mysterious existence in Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve near Portland, Oregon, rarely making contact with the world. But when a small mistake tips them off to authorities, they are sent upon an increasingly erratic journey in search of a place to call their own. This will screen at The Court Theatre on Friday, Nov. 9th at 5 PM and Saturday, Nov. 10th at 2 PM.

• (A) Fantastic Woman (Chile, 2017, drama, 104 min, R). This film won an Oscar this year for Best Foreign Film and is the winner of international awards for best movie, director, actress, screenplay, and cinematography. It concerns a transsexual waitress and singer in love with a man 20 years older and planning for their future, until he falls ill and dies and she is suspected of causing his death. This film will screen at First Congregational Church on Friday, Nov. 9th at 5 PM and at The Castle Museum on Saturday, Nov. 10th at 5 PM

Faces Places (France, 2017, 94 min). This Oscar nominee is a documentary created by 89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33-year old French photographer and muralist JR, who teamed up to co-direct this road movie. Kindred spirits, they share a lifelong passion for images and how they are created, displayed and shared. Together they travel around the villages of France meeting locals, learning their stories, and producing epic-size portraits of them. This film will be shown at The Court Theatre on both Friday & Saturday, Nov 9-10th at 11 AM.

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016, Canada, 120 Min). This unique film pieces together the bizarre true history of a long-lost collection of 533 nitrate silent film prints dating from the early 1900s. Discovered buried under a hockey rink in a former Klondike Gold Rush town, their story reveals the links between the movie business and Manifest Destiny in North America. Winner at numerous film festivals. This will screen at Hoyt Library on Friday, Nov. 9th at 11 AM.



















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