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RIFF's Opening Night Gala Celebrates Legends

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By Linda Ong –

We love you! Keep going! Tell us! The audience couldn’t get enough of legendary actresses Ann Rutherford and Anne Jeffreys at the Riverside International Film Festival’s (RIFF) Opening Night Gala Champagne Reception recently.

To kick-off the ten-day festival, city officials, filmmakers, and movie fans alike, all gathered in the restored Orchestra Lobby of the Fox Theater to honor Rutherford and Jeffreys. Dr. Harkeerat Dhillon, President of the RIFF, spoke of the actresses’ momentous achievements in Hollywood, followed by announcing Rutherford as the first-ever recipient of RIFF’s Distinguished Artist Award and Jeffreys as the recipient of RIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I’m grateful to the people who love movies,” said Rutherford, who played the timid Careen O’Hara in the Oscar-winning 1939 film, Gone With the Wind. “I’m as happy as if I had good sense.”

Rutherford further expressed how everyone has to “make a pit stop at Riverside” and explained the transformation that Atlanta, Georgia had undergone as a result of the 1939 hit movie.

“People came to visit Atlanta,” said Rutherford. “It turned the city into the Chicago of the South. This, too, can happen to Riverside.”

And this is very true. From April 16-April 25, the UltraStar Cinemas at the University Village will enable the viewers to “experience the world in ten days.” The films shown will include features, shorts, and documentaries ranging from narratives of African Americans to that of Asians, to sports histories to zombies. Thus, the festival will not only tell different stories of diverse cultures and ideas, but it will also display the talents of many well-known and up-and-coming filmmakers of the century.

“We’ve had the idea for 10 years,” said Fred Fontana, writer and producer of Florida Road. The film focuses on the life of Shaan Sahay, whose family moved from India to South Africa, and how Sahay desires to choose an unconventional route for his career. “Our film shows the battle of a father and son.”

A dancer overwhelmed with problems and lost dreams, takes her own life. Instead of her soul going to the after world it travels into the body of other lost women on the edge of mortality.

While Florida Road brings together the East and West, other films, like Shadows of Sepulveda, display the emotional heartache resulting from trying to break into Hollywood.

“It’s an L.A. story,“ said David Michael Joseph. “It’s a story of reincarnation.” In the film, a struggling dancer commits suicide and her soul goes into another woman’s body who is a screenwriter. The film has been awarded the Silver Ace Award for the Las Vegas Film Festival in June 2010.

Other films seek to reveal the psychological complexity and imagination of the human mind.

“Phobia is a short film- a drama,” said Braide Keyland, producer and director of Keyland Productions. The film is about Dr. Kate Maitly, a child psychologist, who actually experienced childhood fears, herself. Keyland prides herself on her one-woman show work style. “I do all the casting, writing, sound, and marketing myself. And it’s all selftaught.”

The Riverside community, Inland Empire, and all of Southern California are invited to come and watch the 90 films showing at the RIFF. Tickets cost $8 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $100 for season passes (any day any movie) and can be purchased at UltraStar Cinemas in the University Village located at 1201 A. University Avenue.

“I hope you have all learned from past films,” said Anne Jeffreys, after playfully commenting on the increasingly risqué nude scenes in modern films. “But, keep on

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