Lights, camera, action! Film festival returns

Published 10:05 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jordon Hodges’ “Sand Castles” will make its Indiana debut at the River Bend Film Festival. (Submitted photo)

Jordon Hodges’ “Sand Castles” will make its Indiana debut at the River Bend Film Festival. (Submitted photo)

SOUTH BEND — There is no question that American’s love affair with motion pictures is alive and well. Nearly 250 million movie tickets have been sold so far this year, according to By the Numbers, a company that collects data on the film industry.

However, as Tim Richardson notes, many of those movie-goers never take advantage of local film festivals where they could see a wide variety of movies that will never make it to the big cinema chains.

“Some people think that a film festival is not for them — even though they love to go see movies,” said Richardson. “But, you don’t get the chance to see these kinds of films in theaters.”

Richardson, who teaches theater at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB), has been involved with the River Bend Film Festival for many years. It will be returning to South Bend for its sixth year, beginning on April 3 and running through April 5.

“This is our thirteenth year of running the festival, but it is our sixth year as ‘River Bend.’ It began on the campus of IUSB, but we moved it off campus, and we wanted to change the name to reflect that,” Richardson explained. “Plus, it’s not just about South Bend. It’s a festival for the entire region.”

Richardson explained that there are many filmmakers in this region, but there are not many opportunities for them to show their work to audiences.

“Films are made by filmmakers, but they need an audience,” Richardson said. “You can see films you’re not going to see anywhere else. You can also meet the filmmakers and ask them questions and learn more about filmmaking.”

While many of the films that will be shown have a connection to the region around South Bend, filmmakers from all over are welcome to enter their films in the various competitions at River Bend.

“We wanted to create a venue for people to show the films they were making,” Richardson said. “We highlight local films, but we also leave it open to people from outside the area. It’s a great opportunity to mix that altogether.”

One of the high points of the festival will be the Indiana premier of “Sand Castles,” a film written by and starring Goshen native Jordon Hodges. That will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 3 at Showplace 16. Hollywood actor Clint Howard, well-known for roles in more than 200 films, including “Apollo 13” and “Star Trek” will be present at a Q&A session along with Hodges.

“Hodges was able to get Clint Howard to play a role in the film. The screening has provided us with a great opportunity to bring Clint out,” Richardson said. “We hope to bring out a well-known actor or director every year, and this is really going to be special.”

Film-lovers who appreciate different styles of film-making will have the opportunity to view a variety of genres that are rarely shown in commercial cinemas.

“We’ll show a number of documentary films on Saturday,” Richardson said. “We’ll have a documentary called ‘Without Charity.’ That’s a local story. Last year we had a documentary about the Kankakee River that won various awards.”

Other documentaries include a pair of films that present different perspectives on 9/11.

“We’ll have a post-9/11 documentary and a movie ‘American Arab,’ paired together as very different viewpoints on that topic,” Richardson said.

Besides screening nearly 40 independent films, the film festival will also include a variety of panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and workshops. IUSB New Media students will also have a display of video art, and Mid America Filmmakers is hosting movie swag giveaways to attendees. Venues include Showplace 16, the lower level of South Bend’s Century Center and the State Theater.

A full schedule of events can be found at Tickets can also be purchased there, including weekend-long passes. The festival’s Facebook and Twitter pages are also places where updates can be obtained. They can be easily accessed via links on the festival’s website.

“People don’t often get a chance to see some of these great films,” said Richardson, hoping that film-lovers from around the region will make the festival a part of their plans for the weekend.