Six Nuggets of Wisdom Mined from Ten Days of MoviesI woke up on Monday morning with sadness in my heart. After ten days of movies, celebrity sightings, creative conversations with filmmakers, panel discussions, and general downtown merriment, RiverRun International Film Festival 2012 is over. Sunday night after dinner I walked down 4th Street in the rain, a/perture theater dark, RiverRun headquarters empty for the first time in ten days.
What I’m going to write next may sound a little dramatic, but stay with me: RiverRun changed my life. Just as every significant experience in my life changes me, even just a little, the experience of immersing myself in RiverRun caused a shift in me. The creative impact of all that talent and passion in our small city awakened me to my own unfulfilled dreams. Like most people, I want to have a voice in the world. Spending time with filmmakers and actors reminded me of the importance of the arts. As a writer, that reminder is no small gift.
RiverRun ended with a bang. Saturday night I attended the screening of Bright Star (directed by Jane Campion), starring Paul Schneider, (pictured above avec moi!) an Asheville native and UNCSA graduate. Paul was in attendance as he also received the RiverRun Emerging Master Award for his growing film career. I rolled in fairly late to the movie, spotted a seat about a third of the way down the aisle, and climbed over a very nice couple before sitting down. As I sank into my seat I realized Paul Schneider himself sat directly in front of me, surrounded by his whole family. Luck? Kismet? I don’t question these things. I just go with the flow.
After the movie, I met Paul and spent quite a bit of time chatting with Paul’s mom and dad, and petting his dog Leroy. It’s no small overstatement to say they were about the nicest people (and dog) I’ve ever met. The moment was a clear reminder that we are all just human beings, from the least of us to the most. We all start out people with dreams, filled with hope and self-doubt. The fulfillment of dreams arrives via hard work, a little luck, and a lot of risk-taking. During the Q&A, Paul remembered his first inspiration to become a filmmaker: Jane Campion’s earlier movie The Piano. When Jane Campion called Paul to audition for the role of Mr. Brown in Bright Star, his sense of overwhelm at the strangeness of fate struck a chord with me. It is a startling thing to experience the fulfillment of a vision, and always a small, welcome surprise when those we admire, admire us as well.
Meeting the filmmaker and star of the small indie film Pilgrim Song was no less affecting. The writer/director Martha Stephens (pictured above) is a whip-smart woman, another UNCSA grad, who’s chosen to live in West Virginia and make small films, passion projects. Her heart for filmmaking is apparent. Her decision to be an artist, and not an industry hack, inspiring. And her movie is tremendous. Affecting, funny, and real, it’s a coming of age story for a nearly middle-aged guy. Without a pat Hollywood ending, I was left wondering how his life and relationships turned out. Over dinner after the film, my friend and I discussed again and again what might have happened to the main character. Our imaginations sparked (thanks, Martha).
Here on the rainy Monday morning after the RiverRun finale, I reflect on what I’m taking away from these ten days of movie-going madness. There are several nuggets of wisdom gleaned from the conversations with the creative giants I met this week. These resonate with me the most:
Say what you have to say in your own unique voice. Don’t try to be anyone else.
Don’t isolate yourself. Connect with others and create community dreams. Make friends wherever you go.
Give up the hustle. Make space for life to unfold. Engage in the practice of allowing. Letting life unfold naturally results in the most amazing surprises.
With a strong vision, the work (though difficult) unfolds naturally. Trust your vision.
Don’t be desperate (true for creative work and relationships). Always have other irons on the fire. Cultivate many options and pick those that seem the best fit.
Creativity is a symphony of talents and voices. Lend your voice to that symphony. Be a part of the music.
So with this wisdom in my heart, I say goodbye to RiverRun for another year. Truly inspired and very tired, I return to my normal life. Until next April, when we’ll do it all again.
The MyBridges Crew (Cyndi & Cheryl) want to say a HUGE thank you to RiverRun International Film Festival for sponsoring our attendance at the festival. We had a great time blogging, taking pictures and posting on our Facebook and Twitter pages! You all do good work. And we’d also like to acknowledge the filmmakers of all the amazing movies we watched this year: One Night Stand, Detropia, See Girl Run, Found Memories, Queens of Country, The Fairy, Crazy Horse, Chasing Ice, Green, Wuthering Heights, The Art of Love, Bright Star, and Pilgrim Song. Thank you all for gracing our city with your talent.
For complete Bridges’ Coverage and Photos of 2012 RiverRun fun, click here.
This Bridges’ Blog Post was written by Dr. Cyndi Briggs a writer, educator, and consultant who lives and works in Winston-Salem, NC. You can read more of her writing on her blog, The Sophia Project and in Skirt! Magazine. When she’s not watching movies or writing, you can find Cyndi out salsa dancing.