26th Annual James River Film Fest event schedule

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



26th James River Film Festival RVA/2019

“Eclectic celluloid for the cinematic soul since 1994”


RVA Filmmakers of the ’70s, ’80s,’90s 

Visual Arts Center, 8 pm, donations accepted

A selection of 16 mm films from pre-digital Richmond filmmakers–from satire to the experimental—makers include David Williams, Tammy Kinsey, Michael Hensdill, F. T. Rea, Michael Jones.  TRT approx. 105 min.



Land without Bread (Bunuel,’32, 27 min.) & Detour (Ulmer, ’46, 67 min.)

Richmond Main Public Library, 2 pm, admission free

Luis Bunuel’s only documentary, an abject portrayal of isolated peasants in Spain, was banned on release. A unique work in cinema from the surrealist director of Un Chien Andalou.  The brilliance of Edgar Ulmer’s archetypal Detour is the distillation of the film noir form into sixty-seven gut-wrenching minutes! w Ann Savage, Tom Neal


The Very Best of Rural Route Films (curated by Alan Webber, TRT 82 min.)

VMFA, Leslie Cheek Theater, 6:30 pm, admission $8/ VMFA members $5

In the tradition of traveling festivals like Black Maria, we welcome the return to RVA of Rural Route Films. This international showcase of shorts ‘takes the road less traveled’ and features works from seven continents—this edition from UK, Hungary, Ethiopia, Austria, and the US includes an entry from Richmonder Sasha Waters Freyer (VCU).

These programs were festival favorites in 2016 and 2017!



Sunrise: A Story of Two Humans (Murnau, ’27, 97 min.)

Richmond Main Public Library, 2 pm, admission free

Director F. W. Murnau’s one-turn in Hollywood produced a silent hybrid—a German expressionist film made in America. A noir-fable of betrayal and forgiveness, lyrically filmed by Karl Struss & Charles Rosher. Janet Gaynor won an Oscar as the wife, George O’Brien plays the husband. Introduction by Ted Salins, film professor, and historian.


Public Reception

The Circuit Arcade Bar in Scott’s Addition, 5:30 pm-7 pm, open invite

3121 W Leigh St, Richmond, VA 23230

Enjoy hors-d’oeuvres, socialize, meet our guests, win a T-shirt, play pinball & other retro games–cash bar available provided by the Circuit featuring over 50 craft brews!




The Films of Betzy Bromberg: Exhibition I: Early Works  (in 16 mm!)

VCU’s Grace Street Theater, 8 pm, admission $5

with filmmaker Betzy Bromberg!

One of the most important voices in avant-garde cinema today is that of Betzy Bromberg, whose films have screened from MoMA to Ann Arbor to Sundance. A product of Cal Arts and former director of their Film and Video program, Ms. Bromberg brings a unique vision to experimental film perhaps because of her years working in optical effects on movies like The Terminator and Tron. An ability to weld ideas and images, through sumptuous photography and attention to sound mark her works. Recipient of a complete retrospective at NY’s Anthology Film Archives, Ms. Bromberg will screen a sampling of 16mm prints included in that program:  Ciao Bella, or F— Me Dead (1978, 13 min.), Marasmus (1981, 24 min., co-directed by Laura Ewig), & Divinity Gratis (1996, 59 min.), “explores time and space, starting at the beginning of the world and suggests… the infinite sweep of time”–LA WEEKLY TRT 96 min.


Gummo (Korine, ’97, 89 min.) w/ Chloe Sevigny, Linda Manz, Max Pehrlich

Byrd Theatre, midnight, admission $5

Korine’s debut film was hailed by none other than Werner Herzog, but Gummo elicited an array of critical responses, from revulsion to puzzlement.  Based in the fictional dystopian, vaguely Appalachian town of Xenia, Ohio, Korine exploits a number of fictional/nonfictional modes—professional, non-professional actors, talk television, verite—in order to create the kinds of images he says he’d like to see in cinema. Welcome to Korine’s world—surreal, disturbing and strangely beautiful.




BOOM for Real (Driver, 2018, 79 min.)

VMFA, Leslie Cheek Theater, 10:30 am, admission $8/VMFA members $5

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s formative years of the late ’70s-early ’80s were heady times—pre-Reagan, pre-AIDS and NY the hub of a burgeoning art and punk music scene. Director Sara Driver lived much of it herself, and her Basquiat bio-doc is a tribute not just to the artist, but the times that formed him and his art; with Jim Jarmusch, Kenny Scharf, Vivienne Dick, Fab Freddy 5 and more.



Fraggle Rock with puppet creator Tim Clarke

Byrd Theatre, 1:00 pm, admission $5

All you fans of Fraggle Rock are going to love this—puppet designer/builder Tim Clarke (Muppets, Dark Crystal) will be on hand to screen episodes and discuss the challenges he encountered working on the popular series, and specifically, the characters he created—Uncle Traveling Matt and the remote-controlled singing Fraggles!  Mr. Clarke will be selling Boglins and other puppets after the screening.  TRT approx. 105 min.


The Films of Betzy Bromberg: Exhibition II: Later Works

Byrd Theatre, 3:30 pm, Admission $5

with filmmaker Betzy Bromberg

Our festival mission has been to advocate for all indie film, with a special affection for a branch of that tree known as “experimental”.  Special guest Betzy Bromberg’s works have been described as “experimental”, “avant-garde” and “dazzling”. She’s been making films for forty years, screening from LA to Montreal to the Pompidou. Films beyond the bounds of fiction and documentary, films, as the late Jonas Mekas described them, as being a “cinema of light”.  This second program contains A Darkness Swallowed (2005, 78 min.), “Bromberg’s most abstract and intimate work, and maybe her most beautiful, in a list of films that have already shattered and expanded the viewer’s conception of beauty.” REDCAT, and Temptation (’87, 4 min., Tom Waits video)



The Green Fog (Maddin, Johnson, Johnson, 2018, 63 min.)

VCU’s Grace Street Theater, 8 pm, admission $5


Director Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, Forbidden Room ) (2017 JRFF guest) teams with Evan and Galen Johnson (Tales of Gimli Hospital) in a de/reconstruction of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece, Vertigo. Using clips from Hollywood’s B & W noir era and ’60s and ’70s television, they reproduce San Francisco and the essence of Hitchcock’s film, a “parallel-universe version” according to the directors. “Witty, eerie, and unexpectedly moving”, Boston Globe, and on many critics’ best lists for 2018.



A Tribute to Jonas Mekas: Lost, Lost, Lost (’77) and Walden (’69) (excerpts)

If Maya Deren was the mother of the American avant-garde movement, then Mekas was the father—advocate, critic, organizer, filmmaker.  As a founder of the New American Cinema Group and publisher of Film Culture, Mekas manifestoed a new kind of cinema, more closely related to poetry, music, and life. In 2002 he attended the JRFF for a day-long screening of his films at the VMFA.  Mekas was noted for his compilation-diary films, shot over a duration of months/years, often running for hours—films that capture the essential zeitgeist of his life and times. Double feature TRT approx. 3 hrs.


Santa, Sangre (Jodorowsky, co-scr: Claudio Argento, 1990, 121 min.)

Byrd Theatre, midnight, admission $5

One of the strangest cult films is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa, Sangre, but what would you expect from the Mexican director of El Topo and The Holy Mountain?  An ode to Mexican and Italian horror films (think Dario Argento, the co-writers brother, or even Bava), the bizarre plot has the hero, a famous circus performer, escaping from a mental hospital to become his mother’s arms. The Mom, arm-less herself, is now the head of a religious sect and she wills him to commit a series of murders, his arms acting as hers.

Stylish and surreal, back on the Byrd’s giant screen where it originally played in 1990!



The Dark Crystal (Henson & Oz, 1982, 93 min.)

with puppet-maker/designer Tim Clarke (Fraggle Rock, Boglins)

Byrd Theatre, 1:30 pm, admission $5

Revered by successive generations, a fantastic trippy film from directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz.  The Dark Crystal was years in production at a cost of $15 million—a whopping budget for that time—but it was worth it!  Now a cult item for all ages!

JRFF guest Tim Clarke worked on the film as a puppet-maker and designer (Mystics, Crystal Bats, Landstriders, and some environmental puppets); he will intro the film and participate in a Q & A after, and sell his Boglin creations in the lobby.



Amateur on Plastic  (Robinson, 2019, 83 min.)

with director/musician/label founder Mark Robinson (Teen-Beat Records)

Byrd Theatre, 4 pm, admission $5

DC legend Butch Willis and his band, The Rocks, is the subject of director/musician Mark Robinson’s brand-new rock-doc!  Willis, rooming with icon Root Boy

Slim, was inspired to form his own band in 1985—the music has been compared to other “outsider” music like Daniel Johnston and Roxy Erikson.  Robinson heard the band in ’85 and began working with Willis in ’89. The film mixes archival footage with interviews and performances of Willis’ hits: Drugs, The Garden’s Outside, TV’s from Outer Space.  A labor of love, begun in 2007 and just released! Mr. Robinson, founder of Teen Beat Records, will participate in a Q & A after the screening.


Puppet-Making Workshop with guest Tim Clarke!

Gallery 5, 5 pm, admission $20 (limited to 15 participants)/ $10 observer

Learn how the pros do it!  Basic puppet-making head-to-head with master puppet-maker Tim Clarke, who worked with Jim Henson and created the Boglins. Materials included.


Silent/Music Revival: THE WIMPS live with Jean Vigo’s Zero de Conduite (’33)

Gallery 5, 8 pm, donations accepted, approx. 43 min

Vigo gave us the first teen-school-rebellion film with Zero for Conduct—perhaps not so unusual for the son of an anarchist.  One of the last silent classics, softly surreal and warmly human.  With live accompaniment by The Wimps who perform back-screen!


Strange Projections: The Leprechaun (Jones,’93, 93 min.)

So you think clowns are scary?  From the vaults of less-than-classic videos, The Leprechaun will make you think twice about feeling lucky. On VHS baby!




Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St.

The Circuit Arcade Bar, 3121 W. Leigh St.

Gallery 5, 200 W. Marshall St.

Grace Street Theater, VCU, 934 W. Grace St.

Richmond Public Library Main Branch, 101 E. Franklin St.

Visual Arts Center, 1812 W. Main St.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard


FESTIVAL COMMITTEE: Dakotah Coates, Coleman Jennings, Michael Jones,

Teddy Leinbach, Taylor Noffsinger, Jameson Price, Sam Taylor, Steven Warrick &

the festival volunteers


SPECIAL THANKS: Richmond Public Library Main Branch,VCU Dept. of Photo & Film, VCU Dept. of Kinetic Imaging, Visual Arts Center, The Circuit, Plan 9, Chop Suey Books, Byrd Theatre, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, VCU Dept. of Art History, Gallery 5, VCU’s Grace Street Theater, Style Weekly, WRIR, Sifter, Richmond Magazine, Ted Salins, John Venable, Jeff Roll, Uptown Color, Zooom Printing, Linden Row Inn, Le Lew, Alan Webber & Rural Route Films, Adventures in T-Shirt Land, Magnolia Pictures, Balcony Booking, VA Film Office, VA Tourism Corp., our advertisers and donors!



Betzy Bromberg is the former director of Film and Video Program at Cal Arts and has been making experimental film since ’76.  Her recent film, Glide of Transparency, the third in her abstract trilogy, premiered at the Redcat in LA, and she was included in critic Scott MacDonald’s new book, Avant-Doc: Intersections in Documentary and Avant-Garde Cinema. Bromberg’s Voluptuous Sleep was named one of the Best Films of 2011 by NY Times and IndieWire.  She’s screened at festivals and museums worldwide: Athens, Montreal, London, Czech Republic, Centre Pompidou, Sundance, MoMA and a retrospective at NY’s Anthology Film Archives in 2018. Previously she supervised optical effects on movies like The Terminator, Wolfen, and Tron. She resides in CA.


Tim Clarke is a master puppet-builder who worked for Jim Henson in the ’80s and was the designer-fabricator for The Mystics and Crystal Bats in cult classic The Dark Crystal, as well as the character of Uncle Traveling Matt and other environmental puppets of the Fraggle Rock series. Clarke has been inventing, building and sculpting some of the most unusual toys and puppets for over thirty years, including the popular Boglins and Sectaurs, Warriors of Symbion.  Mr. Clarke resides in CT.


Mark Robinson is a filmmaker, musician, and founder of Teen-Beat Records, which he started in high school. His new film, Amateur on Plastic, captures   DC-legend Butch Willis and his band, The Rocks, whom he first saw perform in ’85.  He has been singer/guitarist for bands Unrest, Air Miami, Flin Flon and currently performs with Evelyn Hurley in Cotton Candy. Robinson is currently shooting a series of shorts, STO, on well-worn retail spaces. He lives in MA.







Filed Under: JRFS News

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.