The smart and dogged little indie film festival that could, the James River Film Festival, is pulling out the stops for its 25th anniversary, held March 13-18 at various locations around Richmond.
The headlining guest will be acclaimed director Kelly Reichardt ("Old Joy," "Wendy and Lucy") who will be presenting her films "River of Grass," "Wendy and Lucy," "Certain Women" and "Night Moves."
There's also a tribute to recently departed actor, Harry Dean Stanton, with a screening of his heartwarming last movie, "Lucky," at the Byrd with special guest, art desginer Almitra Corey. Also, there will be a midnight showing of cult classic "Repo Man" sponsored by Movie Club Richmond.
Canadian-American award-winning producer, writer and director Rene Balcer will present "Above the Drowning Sea." And this year's festival also includes a familiar returning musical guest, innovative guitarist Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, Nick Cave, Lou Reed) who will be performing a live soundtrack to the silent German classic "Der Golem: How We Came Into the World" as well as other special appearances listed below.
Of course, local filmmakers are also involved: Rick Alverson ("The Comedy") will be presenting the Robert Bresson classic, "Pickpocket," and filmmaker David Williams will present his docudrama, "Thirteen." Alverson is currently in postproduction on his new film, "The Mountain," starring Jeff Goldblum (who's been in town recently) and Udo Kier.
James River Film All-Festival Passes that are good for all shows are available for $40. Go here for more info.
Here is the complete schedule
25TH JAMES RIVER FILM FESTIVAL, MARCH 13-18, 2018
TUESDAY, MARCH 13
8 p.m., VISUAL ARTS CENTER Admission $5
"RIVER OF GRASS" (’96, 77 min.)—dir: Kelly Reichardt, w/ Lisa Bowman, Larry Fessenden. Guest director Kelly Reichardt’s first feature is a variation on rural-bandit films in the tradition of Gun Crazy and Badlands. When Cozy, a bored housewife, meets Lee in a backwater Florida bar, sparks fly and the thrill-seekers are on the lam.
Winner of three Spirit awards and nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. With selected shorts. Intro by Michael Jones, JRFS member, VCU & RMC Film Studies.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14
8 p.m., VISUAL ARTS CENTER Admission $5
"PICKPOCKET" (’59, 78 min.)—dir: Robert Bresson, w/Martin LaSalle, Marika Green
In the midst of the French New Wave, master stylist Robert Bresson distills story-telling to its spiritual essence. Michel, our Dostoyevskyian hero, rejects his intellectual life for one of petty crime, and through his ultimate emotional isolation, achieves salvation.
Intro by Richmond filmmaker Rick Alverson ("The Builder," "New Jerusalem," "The Comedy," "Entertainment.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15
1 p.m., RICHMOND MAIN PUBLIC LIBRARY Free
"THIRTEEN" (’97,83 min.)—dir: David Williams w/ Lillian Folley, Nina Dickens
With Richmond filmmaker David Williams
A thirteen year old African-American girl yearns for a car and later takes a solo trip to the mountains she’s never seen. Shot in RVA by native-son Williams with non-professionals, this docudrama achieves a reality rarely captured on screen. Championed by critic Roger Ebert, and an award-winner at the Berlin and Sundance festivals. Also, a short by Williams, Waving (1987, 4 min., poem by Dave Smith))
3 p.m., RICHMOND MAIN PUBLIC LIBRARY Free MOVIE GRAB BAG: “Found” films—mostly discarded home movies—from the personal collection of Coleman Jennings, who amassed his collection over the years in an effort to preserve these lost moments in time. Join us for a glimpse into the past of strangers. Coleman Jennings is a member of the JRFS committee.
6:30 p.m., VMFA, Leslie Cheek Theatre Admission $8/$5 VMFA members
"ABOVE THE DROWNING SEA" (2016, 92 min.)—dir/prod: Rene Balcer and Nicole Zavaglia w/ narration by Juliana Margulies With special guest Rene Balcer (scr/prod TV’s Law and Order, Law and Order II)
The stirring story of 20,000 Jewish refugees making their way from Vienna, Austria to Shanghai, China fleeing the Nazi menace at the advent of WWII, told through interviews with survivors and descendants. Though packed with history—did you know the Jewish presence in China dates to the 9th century—the stories of the subjects is what resonates here—a testament of compassion and humanity.
FRIDAY, MARCH 16
1 p.m., RICHMOND MAIN PUBLIC LIBRARY Free
Film Blasts from the Past—Experimental and animated selections from JRFF’s previous guest artists 1994-2017 including William Wegman, Stan Brakhage, Richard Myers, Les Blank, Karen Aqua, Bros. Quay, Jodie Mack and more! (approx. 100 min.)
3 p.m., RICHMOND MAIN PUBLIC LIBRARY Free
"Nothing but a Man" (’64, 95 min.)—dir: Michael Roemer, w/ Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln
An overlooked indie African-American classic produced in the thick of the Civil Rights movement. Duff, a RR worker is forced to confront racism and his own self-denial when he falls for school-teacher Josie; starring Ivan Dixon of Broadway Porgy & Bess fame, and jazz singer Abbey Lincoln. “One of the Top 10 Black Films of all Time”-Ebony
7:30 p.m., VCU’s GRACE STREET THEATER Admission $10 advance/ $15 at door "Der Golem: How He Came Into the World" (’20, 68 min.)—dir: Paul Wegener & Carl Boese w/ Wegener, Steinruck With special return guest guitarist Gary Lucas live! And Zgomot!
Renowned guitar wizard Gary Lucas brings the silent German classic to life—first presented as an inaugural event at Richmond’s Jewish Holocaust Museum in 2003.Under the tyranny of the Emperor in 16th century Prague, a rabbi creates a powerful monster of clay to protect his people, but in the hands of his devious assistant, the Golem goes on a rampage. An inspiration to Universal’s monsters of the 30s, photographed by famed cinematographer Karl Freund. After the movie Lucas jams with RVA quartet Zgomot and experimental shorts!
9 p.m. to midnight, GARDEN GROVE BREWING No Cover/Donations Accepted
SILENT/MUSIC REVIVAL AVANT-AFTER PARTY
With live soundtrack by OlNuBi and avant-garde films!
SATURDAY, MARCH 17
10:30 a.m., VMFA, Leslie Cheek Theatre Admission $8/ $5 VMFA members
"DAWSON CITY—FROZEN TIME" (2016, 120 min .)—dir: Bill Morrison
During the silent years, gold-boom town Dawson City, Alaska was the end of the movie circuit, and decades later hundreds of previously lost nitrate titles were discovered preserved under the permafrost. This is the story of a lost town as well—that in its brief glory sported several movie palaces, dozens of saloons, a couple of bordellos (one operated by the grandfather of our sitting president!) and a library. Less a movie than a time-machine!
10:30 a.m., ERIC SCHINDLER GALLERY $35 participant reserved/ $10 observer
GUITAR WORKSHOP with GARY LUCAS
Ask, watch, listen and learn with internationally-renowned guitarist Gary Lucas. Lucas has collaborated with Jeff Buckley, John Cale and John Zorn among others. Each participant gets a short one-on-one session; must provide own axe! Max.16 participants; gallery available for observers only.
1:30 PM, BYRD THEATRE Admission $8
"LET’S GET LOST" (’89, 119 min.)—dir: Bruce Weber
Introduction by Peter Solomon, WCVE jazz host
The hard life and times of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker achieves a cool sublimity as handled by filmmaker Weber (Broken Noses), with vintage outtakes and intimate interviews from fellow musicians, friends and ex-wives. Let’s Get Lost premiered Richmond at the Byrd in 1994—our first Festival!
4:00 p.m., BYRD THEATRE Admission $8 A Harry Dean Stanton Tribute!
"LUCKY" (2017, 88 min.)—dir: John Carroll Lynch (TV’s Turn) w/ Harry Dean Stanton, Ed Begley, Jr., Tom Skerritt With special guest Almitra Corey, Art Designer for "Lucky," "Night Moves!"
The late, great Harry Dean Stanton stars in this quirky spiritual journey of a 90 yr. old atheist facing the sum of his life amidst a motley group of odd-ball acquaintances. Stanton’s career spanned six decades with memorable roles in "Ride in the Whirlwind," "Rancho Deluxe," "Paris, Texas," "Pretty in Pink," "Wild at Heart," "Wise Blood," and "Repo Man," part of the Harry Dean Tribute screening Saturday at midnight at the Byrd ! Ms. Corey will be available for a Q & A after the screening.
7:30 p.m., VCU’s GRACE ST. THEATER Admission $10/advance available or at door
WENDY & LUCY (2008, 80 min.)—dir: Kelly Reichardt, scr: Jonathan Raymond, w/ Michelle Williams, Will Oldham, Will Patton, Walter Dalton, and Lucy
With special guest director Kelly Reichardt!
An indie classic practically since its release, Reichardt’s variation on the “boy and his dog” story leaves out all sentiment in a tale reminiscent of Dreiser or Norris. Wendy (Michelle Williams) is on her way to Alaska to look for a job with dog Lucy in tow when her car breaks down in Oregon. Then she’s faced with some tough choices. Ms. Reichardt will be available for a Q & A after the screening.
9 p.m., VCU’s GRACE ST. THEATER Admission $10/advance available or at door
"NIGHT MOVES" (2013, 110 min.)—dir: Kelly Reichardt, scr: Jonathan Raymond, w/ Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
With special guest director Kelly Reichardt!
A radical environmentalist plot to explode a dam on a river to facilitate spawning fish in the Pacific NW goes awry when a fisherman drowns. What was once an act of activism becomes a capital crime--as the stakes get higher, paranoia and suspicion result in another moral consequence. A moody thriller by guest director Kelly Reichardt who will answer questions after the screening.
9 p.m.—midnight, GARDEN GROVE BREWING No Cover/Donations Accepted
SILENT/MUSIC REVIVAL presents AVANT-AFTER PARTY! With live soundtrack by the Harry Patch Appreciation Society and avant-garde films!
MIDNIGHT SCREENING, BYRD THEATRE Admission $8
"REPO MAN" (’84, 92 min.)—dir: Alex Cox, w/ Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez,
The Harry Dean Tribute continues when teen punk Otto (Estevez) meets car repo man Stanton—a cult favorite complete with aliens, CIA, a ‘64 Chevy and some very weird canned food. Directed by Alex Cox ("Sid and Nancy," "Walker," "Straight to Hell"); sponsored by Movie Club in memory of the beloved Video Fan!
SUNDAY, MARCH 18
1:30 p.m., BYRD THEATRE Admission $10 advance/ $15 at door
GARY LUCAS plays the FLESICHER BROS.! With vocals by Caroline Scruggs
Guest guitarist Gary Lucas performs to a selection of Fleischer Brothers cartoons: “Swing You Sinners”, a surreal Halloween spook-tacular, “Snow White” w/ Betty Boop, one of the most inventive cartoons ever, “Sinbad the Sailor” w/ Popeye, Olive and Wimpy in Planar 3-D, “Ain’t She Sweet”, a Talkartoon w/ Lillian Roth & more! Fun for young, old, and in-between! With vocal accompaniment by Richmonder Caroline Scruggs! .
4:00 p.m., BYRD THEATRE - Admission $10/advance available or at door
"CERTAIN WOMEN" (2016, 107 min.)—dir/scr: Kelly Reichardt, w/ Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, James LeGros (from stories by Maile Maloy)
With guest director Kelly Reichardt!
The stories of three women’s lives in a small Montana town intersect in subtle ways, and as usual in a Reichardt film, landscape and moral complexities loom large. One of the Best Pictures of the Year! “…An indelible portrait of independent women!” The Guardian Ms. Reichardt will be available for a Q & A after the screening.
6:30 p.m., GALLERY 5 Admission $8
"EVERY, EVERYTHING: THE MUSIC, LIFE AND TIMES OF GRANT HART" (2013, 97 min.)—dir/scr: Gorman Bechard w/ Grant Hart, Husker Du, et al.
The late Grant Hart’s (Husker Du, Nova Mob) life from birth in South St. Paul to release of his 2013 album The Argument is well-covered in filmmaker Bechard’s (Color Me Obsessed) rockumentary. Stylistically reminiscent of Errol Morris’ The Fog of War, as eloquent conversationalist Hart is the only interviewee in the film, yet plenty of locations and clips for all the Husker fans! Intro by Chris Bopst.
8:30 p.m., GALLERY 5 No Cover/ Donations Encouraged SILENT/MUSIC REVIVAL presents BUNUEL’S surreal classic "L’AGE D’OR" with live soundtrack by Houdan the Mystic! When director Luis Bunuel’s cryptic satire of Church and State was released in 1930 it was attacked by forces of Catholicism, Fascism, and deemed blasphemous ultimately by its producer, Vicomte de Noailles.
ABOUT THE GUESTS:
Rene Balcer is a Canadian-American award-winning writer/producer/director who once studied under Jean Luc Godard, and worked for John Huston. He later worked as a journalist, editor and film critic and made documentaries for Canada’s NFB. In the U.S., he collaborated with cult director Monte Hellman, Francis Ford Coppola and Steve Tisch, and wrote and produced the long running television series, Law and Order and currently, Law and Order II.
Almitra Corey is an ex-Richmonder and VCU alum, with a long list of credits in art production/design/direction in television and film, including Life on Mars, Rabbit Hole, Taking of Pelham, The Invitation, and as Art Director on Lucky and Night Moves.
Gary Lucas is a four-time JRFF guest, a NY-based guitarist and composer who once played with Capt. Beefheart’s Magic Band and later formed Gods and Monsters. He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, John Cale, Nick Cave, Jeff Buckley, Lou Reed and John Zorn among others. On January 27, 2017 he performed before the United Nations General Assembly on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Kelly Reichardt is a critically-acclaimed American indie writer-director whose credits include River of Grass, Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, Night Moves and last year’s Certain Women, chosen by many critics as one of the Best Films of 2016. She studied at Tufts, and her films have won awards at the Venice, Rotterdam, Sundance and New York Film Festivals. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009 and is a Filmmaker-in-Residence at Bard College.
Caroline Scruggs is a soprano vocalist based in Richmond. She is a classically trained singer specializing in opera and jazz.
David Williams is a native Richmonder and filmmaker best known for his award-winning films, Lillian and Thirteen. Both films were championed by late critic Roger Ebert, and Thirteen won the Quixote Award at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.
Zgomot is Pippin Barnett-drums, Vlad Cuiujuclu-guitar and voice, Tim Harding-bass, & Gary Kalar-guitar. Both Barnett with Ululating Mummies and the Gourd Orchestra, Harding with Hotel X are past collaborators with the James River Film Festival.
Byrd Theatre, 2908 West Cary St.
Eric Schindler Gallery, 2305 East Broad St.
Gallery 5, 200 West Marshall St.
Garden Grove Brewing Co., 3445 West Cary St.
Grace Street Theater, 934 West Grace St.
Visual Arts Center, 1812 West Main St.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 North Boulevard FESTIVAL COMMITTEE: Dakotah Coates, Ken Hopson, Coleman Jennings, Michael Jones, Jameson Price, Meaghan Riley, Jeff Roll, Steven Warrick & the 2018 festival volunteers!