April 21 – 30, 2022

RiverRun Announces 2021 Awards: Fires in the Dark and Sapelo Take Top Feature Honors

The RiverRun International Film Festival today announced the Jury Awards for the 2021 Festival. This year’s festival ran May 6-16 and was a hybrid festival of virtual screenings and safe, outdoor and drive-in screenings. The festival this year presented 134 films representing 24 countries.

“We had an impressive slate of films this year, from both emerging and established directors. It was not easy for the juries to make their final decisions,” said Rob Davis, RiverRun Executive Director. “This year’s festival was of course a bit different than in traditional years, but we were just so grateful to be able to be back in a creative fashion. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this year – from filmmakers and directors to patrons and staff. Being a part of this community is such a gift to RiverRun.”

RiverRun 2021 Jury Awards:

Re: Vision Independent Feature Competition: 
Best Film: Fires in the Dark, directed by Dominique Lienhard
Peter Brunette Award for Best Director: Dominique Lienhard for Fires in the Dark
Best Cinematography: Philippe Kress for A Beautiful Curse
Best Screenplay: Dominique Lienhard for Fires in the Dark
Best Editing: Marco Perez for A Beautiful Curse
Best Actress: Shein Mompremier in Ludi
Best Ensemble: The cast of Events Transpiring Before, During and After a High School Basketball Game

Documentary Features Competition:
Best Documentary Feature: Sapelo directed by Nick Brandestini
Best Director of a Documentary Feature: Jeff Daniels for Television Event
Human Rights Award: Missing in Brooks County

Narrative Shorts Competition:
Best Narrative Short: White Eye, directed by Tomer Shushan
Best Student Narrative Short: The Washing Machine, directed by Dominik Hartl
Honorable Mention for Student Narrative Short: Must Love Pie, directed by Patrick Clement

Documentary Shorts Competition (Academy Award qualifying category):
Best Documentary Short: A Broken House, directed Jimmy Goldblum
Honorable Mention: Atomic Café: The Noisiest Corner in J-Town, directed by Akira Boch and Tadashi Nakamura

Animated Shorts Competition (Academy Award qualifying category):
Best Animated Short: The Source of the Mountains, directed by Adrien Communier, Camille Di Dio, Benjamin Francois, Pierre Gorichon, Briag Mallat and Marianne Moisy
Special Jury Award for Student Film: The Winter, directed by Xin Li

Reel South Award:
RiverRun is pleased to be affiliated with Reel South. Reel South SHORTS, the digital hive of the PBS series Reel South, showcases the best in Southern short-form and is built on partnerships with the South’s regional film festivals. The Reel South SHORT Award honors the best in Southern short-form. The winning documentary short receives a cash prize and distribution in Reel South’s digital platforms. The winner of this year’s Reel South Award from RiverRun is Bug Farm, directed by Lydia Cornett. The film is about four distinct women in Central Florida who bond over working with crickets, superworms, and roaches on an insect farm in the small town of LaBelle.

Pitch Fest Awards:
The 10th annual RiverRun Pitch Fest was held with college students from six colleges from North Carolina and Virginia pitching their documentary film projects to a panel of judges in hopes of winning cash prizes. First place was awarded for America vs. Herself, directed by Kiersten Houser from UNC Wilmington. Second place was awarded to The Subway, directed by Gannon La Croix of James Madison University.

Master of Cinema Awards:
Alan Cumming
Lee Grant

Emerging Master Award:
Finnerty Steeves