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Billy Bob Thornton among the guests for RIFF

October 26, 2021–6:30 p.m.


In its 18th year, RIFF 2021 returns from the limits of a virtual year with a long list of quality films, a star-studded guest lineup, and after-parties that keep the proverbial red carpet rolling into the night.

As the schedule of films settles into place, RIFF has announced marquee film screenings for 2021, as well as the guests that will accompany them.

On opening night, RIFF will raise a glass as the festival kicks off with the documentary “One Pint at a Time.” The film follows the trials and triumphs of black brewers as they navigate the craft beer industry in which they invest their passion, but find themselves underrepresented.

Keeping the pints tipped, RIFF will present the docu-style reality series “40 Akerz and a Brew,” featuring hip-hop group Nappy Roots as they visit craft breweries across the country, gathering inspiration for their own brewery. Skinny Deville and Scales of Nappy Roots will be in attendance to mingle with fans. The series has been a project in partnership between Nappy Roots and PAM Studios in Rome. RIFF attendees will be the first audience to see the show’s pilot. 

Notable films screening on Friday will include “Old Henry,” an action western starring Tim Blake Nelson and “The Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre,” directed by RIFF alum Max Martini. “Old Henry” Producer Mike Hagerty and Director Potsy Ponciroli will be in attendance.

Audiences can join in the family friendly fun of animated short films, explore imaginative sci-fi shorts, or indulge in all things sinister and strange during the horror film blocks on Friday and Saturday night. RIFF 2021 leaves no genre unscreened.

Mario Van Peebles, will be in attendance as his film “Baadasssss!” will be screened Saturday. “Baadasssss!” is part documentary, part tribute to his father’s (the late actor, filmmaker, playwright, novelist, and composer, Melvin Van Peebles) 1971 film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” Van Peebles will receive the inaugural Melvin Van Peebles award at the festival, named after his father, the Godfather of African American film.

Noteworthy feature films include “Clean Slate,” a drama in which two friends struggle to come to terms with their drug addiction and mental illness by creating a short film about the pain they inflicted on their families; and “18 ½,” a drama/thriller set in 1974, surrounding the Watergate scandal and the 18 ½ minute gap in Nixon’s tapes; Director Dan Mirvish (co-founder of Slamdance) will be in attendance.

Billy Bob Thornton will attend this year as RIFF celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Oscar Award winning film, “Sling Blade.” The film will be screened on Sunday. Thornton will receive The inaugural Flannery O’Connor Award for Storytelling at the festival.

For closing night, RIFF will take audiences on a tour through the Irish rock past of the intelligent and insubordinate frontman for Irish band, The Pogues, Shane MacGowan, with a screening of “Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan.” The film was produced by Johnny Depp and directed by Julien Temple. MacGowan’s wife, Irish journalist, writer and producer, Victoria Marie Clarke, will be in attendance.

Following the screening, the fierce, unscrupulous art of MacGowan will be exhibited for the first time ever in the U.S., at the Kingfisher Art Co. in downtown Rome, Ga.

“Our 2021 mix of submissions and guests contain more star talent than we’ve ever had at one festival, and there is still more to come.” RIFF Executive Director, Seth Ingram, said.

Capping off each evening, exclusive after-parties held in the best venues downtown Rome has to offer, will be open to all VIP (Patron) pass holders.

RIFF passes can be purchased at Pass options include all access Patron passes, day passes, as well as individual tickets for films.

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