The 23rd Annual James River Film Festival Announces Line-Up

Includes the return of guitarist Marc Ribot with experimental filmmaker Jennifer Reeves, and "Destination: Planet Negro"


A still from the cult classic short, "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" shot at a Judas Priest show at the Capital Center in Landover, Md. Co-director John Heyn will be presenting as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the film.
  • A still from the cult classic short, "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" shot at a Judas Priest show at the Capital Center in Landover, Md. Co-director John Heyn will be presenting as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the film.

Mike Jones informs me that Richmond's beloved James River Film Festival recently secured the line-up for its 23rd annual event which will be held at various locations April 1 through 10.

Highlights this year include the return of guitarist Marc Ribot, this time with experimental filmmaker Jennifer Reeves and her silent film "Shadows Choose Their Horrors;" the cult classic "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" with co-director John Heyn; "Destination: Planet Negro!" with director Kevin Wilmott (who penned Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq"); Laurie Anderson's doc "Heart of a Dog" (2015); as well as a Movie Club presentation of Nicolas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell To Earth" starring David Bowie, in original 35mm format.

Here's a full listing of screenings from the press release:

Friday, April 1 Festival Preview

"Lost Colony" (dir/scr: Christopher Holmes, 2014, 84 min.) w/ guest director Christopher Holmes, 7:30 pm, Visual Arts Center, First Friday Freebie

NC-based, Ohio-born filmmaker Chris Holmes’s short films have played at over fifty festivals world-wide, including screenings in James River Film programs Flicker and James River Shorts. He weighs in here with an impressive first feature, a family drama fraught with hard choices, but handles his material with delicacy and respect. Smart writing—Holmes is wary of cliches--some fine acting and lots of Outer Banks locations.

With Joshua Brady, Sam Buchanan, Stephanie Renee Morgan. Q & A with director Chris Holmes after the screening.

Saturday, April 2

Seventh anniversary of the James River Filmmakers Forum at 8 pm, Visual Arts Center, Admission $4

For seven years JRFS’ Jeff Roll has organized the Forum, featuring local and regional filmmakers screening and discussing their works with moderator and audience. This edition spotlights recent films by Laura Zoellner, Anjali Roka, Jamie King, Jennifer Tarrazi-Scully, and Jeff Roll. Music by Lobo Marino, free pizza and cash bar!

Thursday, April 7

The very best of Rural Route Films 2011-2015 at 6:30 pm, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Leslie Cheek Theatre. Admission $8/ VMFA, JRFS members $5, advance tickets @ or by phone

In the tradition of traveling fests like the Black Maria and Ann Arbor, we’re proud to present The Very Best of Rural Route Films—a rising international showcase that takes the road less traveled, boasting short films shot on seven continents, in narrative, experimental and documentary forms. This best of edition includes: Marcel, King of Tervuren ( Schroeder, Belgium), We’re Leaving (Treitz, U.S.), Home Turf (Whitaker, Ireland), When Elephants Dance, the Ground Gets Beaten (van den Berg, Cambodia), The Bees (Ayoub, Lebanon), Salt (Gardner, Ethiopia), The Hunter (Walsh, Australia), Amma Mundi (Babley, U.S.), Travel Log: Antartica (Webber, Ant.), The Last Ice Merchant ( Patch, Ecuador). TRT: 100 min.

Friday, April 8

"The Stranger" (dir/scr/act: Orson Welles,1946, 95 min.) at 2 pm, Richmond Main Public Library, Free

Despite what critics (and even the director) said, The Stranger is as baroque, as noirish and as Wellesian as anything in his canon. According to Welles, huge chunks of his script were cut, but what remains is a taut thriller and classic film noir. Welles, as ex-nazi Franz Kindler, is a professor at a private boys’school about to marry Senator’s daughter Loretta Young, until his past, and detective Edward G. Robinson, catches up. The final clock tower sequence is total over-the-top Welles! Intro by JRFS’ Michael Jones.

RECEPTION from 5:30 pm-7 pm, Visual Arts Center Commons, Free

Socialize with guests, volunteers, JRFS members and other festivalites, and enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar!

Microcosmos at 7 pm, Visual Arts Center, Free

Curated by JRFS’ Laura McCann, this program features short, short works, five minutes or less, in any genre or format, by current RVA filmmakers.

"Shadows Choose Their Horrors" w/Marc Ribot live & filmmaker Jennifer Reeves at 8:30 pm, Grace Street Theatre, Admission $12

Tickets in advance online at

Critically-accaimed guitarist Marc Ribot returns to RVA for this rare collaboration with critically-acclaimed filmmaker Jennifer Reeves, in a silent film-live music event that has been performed only twice before, in NYC and Detroit. Mr. Ribot’s name has been linked with the likes of John Zorn, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, and Ms. Reeves was recently recognized as one of fifty filmmakers world-wide to take note of. Together, Ribot’s guitar, which seemingly knows no generic boundaries, explores the nuances of Reeves’ experimental, filmic montage. In addition to Shadows Choose Their Horrors (2005), Landfill 16 (2011) and He Walked Away (2003-06 ) round out the program. Q & A with Mr. Ribot and Ms. Reeves after the screening! (Note: Ms. Reeves will screen a second program of experimental works Sat. April 9, 8 pm, GSTh) Co-sponsored by VCU Arts Department of Photography and Film

Saturday, April 9

"Run" (dir: J.J. McMoon, scr: McMoon & James Draper II, 84 min., 2015) w/ director J.J. McMoon, cast and crew at 1:30 pm, Grace Street Theatre, Admission $5

A first-feature that hits the ground running, "Run" is chock full of RVA talent and locales! Half-thriller spoof and half-travelogue, McMoon’s and Draper’s clever script was shot on the lean in a matter of weeks, spotlighting various Richmond neighborhoods and eateries, as well as local talents Rebecca Turner, Richard Spencer, Dale Heiskill and Jon Baamonde. Making no excuse for its satire or tongue-in-cheek effects, Run is a marathon of suspense that ends with a bang! Q & A with director and cast after the screening.

"Southeast 67" (prod/dir: Elizabeth Cox, 71 min., 2015) w/ guest director/producer Betsy Cox at 3:30 pm, Grace Street Theatre, Admission $5

In Washington, DC’s Anacostia neighborhood, high school graduation rates in the 1980s-1990s were pretty dismal, and its school district was arguably one of the worst in the country. But in 1994, a group of 67 seventh graders were chosen randomly by the philanthropic organization Dreamers, with the goal of forging a path to college or post-high school education. In Southeast 67, Charlottesville-based director Cox follows the narratives of some of those students twenty years later. Poignant and inspiring, "Southeast 67" brings Ms. Cox back after 22 years—she screened "Who’s Gonna Sing Our Song?" at our first festival in 1994! Q & A with director/producer Betsy Cox after the screening.

MORE EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA (1998-2013) w/ guest filmmaker Jennifer Reeves at 8 pm, Grace Street Theatre, Admission $7

Jennifer Reeves’ personal films exemplify that thread of cinema deemed experimental-- with her direct-on-film techniques, first-person cinematography, complexity of sound and image, and optical printing. But experimental is more than technique, it has become the cinema’s true standard-bearer of film as art, beyond the reaches of commerce and narrative. In the spirit of Marie Menken, Maya Deren, and past guests Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, and Nathaniel Dorsky we’re proud to screen her following titles: TRT: 67 min.

"Fear of Blushing" (6 min., 2001, 16 mm, optical); We Are Going Home (10 min., 1998, 16mm, optical); Trains Are for Dreaming (7 min., 2009, 16mm, optical); Color Neutral (3 min., 2014, 16mm, optical)

INTERMISSION/ Q & A with guest filmmaker Jennifer Reeves

"Strawberries in the Summertime" (15 min., 2013, pro-res,stereo)

"Light Work Mood Disorder" (26 min., 2007,16 mm dual projection)

"Heart of a Dog" (dir: Laurie Anderson, 75 min., 2015) at 9:30 pm, Grace Street Theatre, Admission $7

Renowned multi-media artist and performer Laurie Anderson reflects on life, love, art and her relationship with her pet terrier. She palled around with William Burroughs, had a hit record with Home of the Brave, became the darling of the avant-garde and married rocker Lou Reed. In "Heart of a Dog," Anderson balances her wry observations and sometimes weighty themes with lyricism and grace. “A celebration of life, and how special it is to be part of it while we’re here.” SF Chronicle

Sunday, April 10

"Destination: Planet Negro!" (dir:Kevin Willmott, 100 min., 2015) w/ guest director/writer: Kevin Willmott at 1 pm, Byrd Theatre, Admission $7

Director Willmott scripted Spike Lee’s latest, Chi-Raq, and delivers here with a smart satire that sports a wicked sense of humor! Done in the spirit of a 1950’s low budget sci-fi, Destination Planet Negro invokes African-American icons W.E.B. DuBois and George Washington Carver, who, in an attempt to “solve the Negro problem” take a rocket ship to Mars, but because of a time-warp land in a present-day Midwest metropolis. With Kevin Willmott, Daniele Cooper, Tosin Morohunfola. “A truly charming film that makes some real and honest observations about the attitudes of Black Americans today” Indiewire. Q & A with guest director Kevin Willmott after the show.

Co-sponsored by Movie Club and Video Fan

The return of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" (dir: John Heyn, Jeff Krulik, 17 mins., 1986) 30th Anniversary!!! w/guest director John Heyn & HMPL subject/author Jalyn Graham Owens at 3 pm, Byrd Theatre, Admission $7

“Basically its rock & roll 101”--Dave Grohl

Who knew a film about a bunch of metal fans waiting for a Judas Priest concert in 1986 at Landover, Maryland’s Cap Center would become a cult phenomenon? HMPL is the genuine article, an American original, a verite time-capsule of the ‘80s, and presented here with Heavy Metal Alumni and other outakes from the Krulik-Heyn archive, inc-luding a preview of the upcoming Led Zeppelin Played Here. Also, guest and HMPL subject, Jalyn Graham Owens (he’s “Gram” in the movie), has a new book, Graham: The First 20, documenting, and coming to grips with, his turbulent first twenty years, and will do a signing in the Byrd lobby. TRT: 70 min.

Co-sponsored by Movie Club and Video Fan

David Bowie in "The Man Who Fell To Earth" (dir: Nicholas Roeg, 138 min., 1976) on 35 mm film! at 4:30 pm, Byrd Theatre, Admission $7

Advance tickets online

One of Bowie’s first acting forays was a kind of Ziggy Stardust role in this moody sci-fi/ psychological parable by director Roeg (Performance, Walkabout). When Bowie’s alien innocent crashes in the desert, he becomes embroiled in the dark machinations of human experience—greed, vice and love. An instant midnight cult favorite on its release, with Rip Torn and Candy Clark. Screened in its original format—widescreen 35 mm!


"Film" (dir: Alan Schneider, scr: Samuel Beckett, w/Buster Keaton, 22 min., 1964) 7:30 pm, Vis Arts Center, Admission $5 Cash bar available

A cinematic curio that united author/playwright Samuel Beckett (Endgame, Waiting for Godot) with aging silent comedy star Buster Keaton, a nameless protagonist who spends his time ambling about NY in a reflexive exercise on “seeing and being seen”. The result was mixed, according to director and writer, yet was one of Keaton’s last films, and the reason for Beckett’s sole trip to the U.S.


"One Soldier" (dir/scr: Steven Wright, 28 min., 1999)

Comedian Steven Wright has won an Oscar and an Emmy, and his wry humor and dead- pan reflections on life and death follow a soldier (played by Wright) returning North from the Civil War. Beautifully photographed, it’s Wright’s comedy with a touch of Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, and Fellini. D.P. Mark Wuerthner is an ex-VCU student.


"Industrial Soundtrack for Urban Decay"

(dir: Amelie Revelac, Travis Collins, 73 min., 2015)

9 pm, Visual Arts Center, Admission $7 Cash bar available

The first documentary to spotlight the hardcore industrial noise bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s—Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, D.A.F..—and their collaborations with European filmmakers of the era like Derek Jarman, Peter Carre and Eckhart Schmidt. Industrial music of that time was avant-garde, abrasive and featured a pulsating percussion, rejecting the romantic angst of punk for a grimness of seeming monotony. The filmmakers prod/shot/edit/distributed the film on their own, and it has a punchlist of impressive interviews and rare performances.


KILLING JOKE/ SKINNY PUPPY (Shorts by DJ Mont Sherar, TRT 55 mins, c. 1980s-90s)

Legendary DJ Mont Sherar was a prime shaker of post-punk dance at Miami’s Kitchen Club in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The two shorts feature drummer Big Paul Ferguson of Killing Joke, and a Skinny Puppy/ Killing Joke concert. He now resides in the Netherlands, runs Monster Film Works and writes books.

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