Winston-Salem -- The RiverRun International Film Festival will hit silver screens across the Twin City starting Friday.
The festival, which was founded in 1998, will bring 142 movies and dozens of directors, film fans and a few stars to Winston-Salem from April 13-22.
Organizers say their goal for the festival is to "foster a greater appreciation of cinema and a deeper understanding of the many people, cultures and perspectives of our world through regular interaction with great films and filmmakers." But how can movies make that happen?
"I've seen films change people and their perceptions so many times," the festival's executive director, Andrew Rodgers, said. "It's an amazing thing that film can do."
Rodgers says there's something so humanizing about the humor and humbling about the heartbreak that we see on the silver screen.
"So often, we see people watch movies and suddenly a world of information or perspective opens up to them because it's something they hadn't considered before," Rodgers said. "The film enlightens them in a way that they just hadn't even know that they needed to be enlightened -- or we able to be enlightened on."
Movies on controversial topics like contaminated tap water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or gay leadership within the Christian faith will blend with lighthearted family films at this year's festival. Rodgers says there's no political or social agenda, just a hope that a few hours inside a theater will stop arguments and start conversations.
"When we present these films, audiences empathize with the people in them," Rodgers said. "[They] relate to them, understand who they are and where they're coming from. And I think you just can't put a price tag on that."
More than 14,000 tickets were sold for the parties, panels, screenings and events associated with last year's festival, organizers said. With more films in store this year, they're hoping for greater attendance and higher box office receipts.
You can look through the list of films and screenings offered at this year's festival by clicking here. A slideshow on this page also highlights a few of the movies you can watch, with images courtesy of the festival's website.
Tickets to regular screenings cost $10, while some matinee tickets will be available for $5.
It's not unusual to spot actors and directors around Winston-Salem during the festival. In fact, organizers expect more than 100 directors in town during the event's run. Legendary stuntman and director Hal Needham is participating in a panel discussion on April 15. And actor Paul Schneider will be honored with the festival's Emerging Master Award on April 21.
WFMY News 2