40 flicks featured in Rainier Independent Film Festival

Rainier Independent Film Festival returns for its 11th year May 19-21 with a lineup of 40 films spanning a variety of genres and topics.

Organizers said audiences at the film venues in Ashford over the three days can expect new faces, as well as several fesitival (RIFF) returnees.

Filmmakers Gary Lundgren, Elias Plagianos, and the Adams family are all former RIFF award winners and have new films playing this year.

The Adams, in attendance for a Q&A, will open Friday night with “Halfway to Zen,” described as a quirky film about a fractured family pulling together against the odds.

Saturday night’s feature, “Heart, Baby,” written and directed by Angela Shelton, tells the true story of best friends from reform school and the road to an ill-fated turn landing in prison. Up-and-coming lead actor Shawn-Caulin Young, who has appeared in such television series as “Grey’s Anatomy,” will be in attendance.

The closing-night film on Sunday, “The Dunning Man,” directed by Michael Clayton, also in attendance, wraps the weekend. The comedy is about a landlord who engages in creative efforts to build up his life.

All of the primetime features are winning multiple awards on the festival circuit, according to RIFF organizers.

RIFF this year is launching its student movie challenge. Students in sixth through 12th grades in the Eatonville, Morton and Bethel school districts were invited to make films of four minutes or less on the question of “Nature or culture?” The top 10 student films will be screened on May 20, with the winning entry receiving $1,441.10 in production services awards. The dollar amount is a salute to the height of Mount Rainier (14,410 feet).

In addition to bringing choice films to RIFF, guest film curator Warren Etheredge will lead a workshop for screenwriters on Saturday.

Information on movie schdules and workshop tickets is available at rainier.film and at Whittaker’s Motel in Ashford.


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