April 17, 2016
With just under 230,000 people in Winston Salem, North Carolina, the River Run International Film Festival April 8th, 2016 made the city look and feel like a metropolis. From the red carpet to the wine and appetizers, the enticing dessert table and the Blackberry Moonshine, the grand opening gala of the River Run International Film Festival was truly a successful top-notch event.
As I ventured out solo, without one of my wingmen, I wasn’t sure what I would find. To my surprise, the evening was full of friendly, witty and inviting people who were ready to talk to anyone about almost anything.
From the moment I parked my car, to looking ahead from across the street, I could see the red carpet going up the stairs with the velvet ropes along both sides and a handsome security guard at the bottom of the staircase. At the top of the staircase was a River Run sign that shone onto the red carpet. Once entering the building, the high vaulted archway ceilings lit up the hallways of the colonial style building.
A coat check was made available for those who felt the chill outside, and two separate rows of appetizers awaited the guests. The theme was the 1920s. So, those who dressed accordingly received a free drink ticket to use at either of the two cash bars. As I threw an outfit together at the last minute, I was complimented multiple times on dressing for the occasion, which landed me two free drink tickets.
I meandered through the crowd and spoke to several people along the way as the fine sounds of live jazz played in the background. I was graced to bump into the director and writer-actor of what seemed to be one of the most-talked-about movies of the River Run Festival, “Driving While Black.” As I had gone to the executive offices earlier that day to get the programs and check out the setup, I was engrossed in a conversation that led to how wonderfully funny “Driving While Black” was.
Then during the evening, several people told me the film was unexpected, real and hilarious. The L.A. director, Paul Sapiano, along with actor Dominique Purdy, who were co-writers of the film, were enjoying the festivities while each enjoying a Stella Artois beer, the sponsoring brand.
As we stood next to the table lavished with deserts, laughing and discussing the possibilities of finding fun and nightlife in Winston Salem, Purdy shed some light on the River Run Gala that we were in the midst of. He said this was one of the best film festivals of the many he had attended. “They even have a private car for us that takes us wherever. This has really been great” said Purdy. Purdy had been to festivals in California, Virginia, New York as well as in other states, and he put Winston Salem’s River Run International Festival on the top of his list.
As the event began at 9 p.m., the evening concluded with a DJ, on the one’s and two’s, which got the party pumping. The mood of the event encountered a smooth transition from an ambiance of networking to a let-loose and dance-it-off party atmosphere. The timing was appropriate as it was about 11:30 in the evening and the event was scheduled to end at 1 a.m.
The River Run International Festival is enjoying its 18th year.
Check out River Run’s website (http://riverrunfilm.com).