PADUCAH — The 18th annual River’s Edge International Film Festival (REIFF), one of the longest-running film festivals in Kentucky, returns to Paducah this week to spotlight around 25 independent films from filmmakers in western Kentucky, across the nation and around the world.
The four-day festival kicks off Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Maiden Alley Cinema in downtown Paducah with a Regional Showcase spotlighting four films created in western Kentucky and southern Illinois. REIFF concludes on Nov. 13 at MAC at 4 p.m. with a screening of whichever film wins the “Best of the Fest” award.
Block screenings will be held at both MAC and the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah. An awards ceremony will take place Nov. 12 at MAC at 7 p.m. where prizes will be awarded in several categories, including Best Short Narrative, Best Feature Narrative, Best Short Documentary, Best Feature Documentary, Best Animated and the overall Best of the Festival.
Overall, MAC Executive Director Rebecca Madding said around 25 films from the United States, Spain, Hong Kong, Germany and Israel would be showing at REIFF throughout the four days of activities. REIFF fits squarely into MAC’s mission to promote filmmaking as an art form and support independent filmmakers, she added.
“These are people who are putting their lives, their hearts and their souls to these films and to make them happen, and it’s part of Maiden Alley’s mission to be a champion of independent filmmakers and to put their works on a screen where it belongs, in the theater,” Madding said.
This year, REIFF will start out with a block featuring films created locally. These films include “They Won’t Let Us Be Angels,” a hip-hop musical short that was the Best Film Winner at the 2022 Paducah 48 Hour Film Project; “Paleface,” a narrative short made in Hopkinsville about an outlaw who comes face-to-face with a supernatural vigilante; “Shawnee Showdown,” a documentary about activists’ fight to stop clearcutting, oil and gas drilling, and ATV use in the Shawnee National Forest; and “165 Miles: Catastrophe in Kentucky,” a documentary sharing stories of survivors of the tornadoes that hit western Kentucky in December 2021.
Jonathan Petramala, “165 Miles” writer and one of its producers, said after the film premiered in Louisville last month at Louisville’s International Festival of Film and won the “Virtual Festival Favorite” award there, REIFF provides an opportunity for the “165 Miles” storytellers to share these stories closer to the areas directly impacted by the natural disaster.
“We believe in the ability for people to share their experience about a storm. Instead of making a disaster movie about a disaster, we make a disaster movie of the people who were most impacted,” Petramala said.
REIFF gives independent filmmakers the chance to showcase their work and share the stories these creators have invested their time and money into sharing, Petramala added.
The “165 Miles” creators are also hoping to connect with groups in places directly impacted by the tornado in western Kentucky to set up additional screenings of the documentary leading up to the one-year anniversary of the Dec. 10, 2021 EF-4 tornado.
Several filmmakers will also have Q & A sessions at some of the screening blocks for audience members to ask filmmakers about their works, Madding said. Petramala said he plans to be at the screening of “165 Miles” screening Thursday, just a month shy of the one-year anniversary of the tornado, along with the film’s director Andy Coates.
Madding said one block, Block E showing on Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. at MAC, has been designated as a family-friendly block for those who would like to take the younger film buffs in the family to the festival to support independent filmmakers.
The complete schedule, along with the complete lineup of films in this year’s festival, can be found at riversedgefilmfestival.com. On that website, tickets can also be purchased for $10 per block, or $50 for an all-access pass for the whole festival. Students can attend the festival for free, Madding said.
People can also sign up to volunteer at the festival on REIFF’s website. Volunteers will receive free movie passes, along with access to an afterparty with REIFF jurors, sponsors, organizers and filmmakers.