2018 SPECIAL GUESTS
This year's Opening Night film is Nona, a narrative feature that stars Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, Superman Returns, Still Alice, Heist), and written and directed by prominent filmmaker and husband, Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, The Astronaut Farmer). Bosworth, an actress, activist and producer will be awarded with the festival’s 2018 Founder’s Award. Together Bosworth and Polish will present the film on opening night Tuesday, April 24th at 7:15 p.m. at the historic Byrd Theatre with a panel to follow made up of Polish, Bosworth and leading experts on human trafficking. The 2018 Closing Night film is Buckout Road starring Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Dreamgirls, Beyond the Lights) with a special discussion to take place with Mr. Glover directly following the film on Sunday, April 29th at 5pm at the Byrd Theatre. Mr. Glover will also be presented with the 2018 Legacy Award.
Prolific television writer and series creator Lee Aronsohn (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) will present his feature documentary, 40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Band on Thursday, April 26th at 6:30pm at Bow Tie Movieland followed by a discussion with Aronsohn about his experience making the film, his music influences & television background, and discuss how the film and television industry has evolved into what it is today. Another top influencer in television and film that will be a 2018 special guest is Rene Balcer. Balcer will present his feature documentary, Above the Drowning Sea with co-executive Producer, Carolyn & Hsu-Balcer on Thursday, April 26th at 8pm at the Byrd Theatre with an extensive Q&A to follow.
Bosworth made her feature film debut in Robert Redford’s film, The Horse Whisperer at the age of 14, and since has made the seamless transition from a young Hollywood starlet to one of today’s leading ladies, both onscreen and behind the lens. On the big screen, Bosworth played the iconic ‘Lois Lane’ in Warner Bros. Superman Returns and ‘Sandra Dee’ in Beyond the Sea, receiving rave reviews from critics and Dee herself for her portrayal as the ultimate golden girl.
Bosworth’s other film credits include critically acclaimed drama, Still Alice with Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart; Heist with Robert DeNiro; Michael Polish’s Big Sur with Josh Lucas; the Sylvester Stallone-penned action-thriller Homefront with Jason Statham and James Franco; Polish’s faith-based film 90 Minutes in Heaven; and more.
Michael Polish is one today's most critically acclaimed directors. His first feature film "Twin Falls Idaho" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and was hailed by respected critic, Roger Ebert as "one of the best films of 1999." Roger Ebert included "Twin Falls Idaho" in his Top 10 Selects of 1999. Michael went on to write and direct 10 more feature films, including "The Astronaut Farmer" starring Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen. This Warner Brothers produced picture is to date one of the highest grossing family films for the studio. Michael also wrote and directed "Northfork," starring Nick Nolte and James Woods. This film is beloved in the world of cinema and is often referenced for it's visionary merit. Michael's latest release is "Big Sur," an adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel. This has film garnered much critical acclaim and The New York Times gave a major stamp of approval, "Big Sur Cracks The Code" - how to adapt a novel to screen.
Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 30 years. As an actor, his film credits range from the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise to smaller independent features, some of which Glover also produced. In recent years he has starred in an array of motion pictures including the critically-acclaimed Dreamgirls directed by Bill Condon and in the futuristic 2012 for director Roland Emmerich. In addition to his film work, Glover is highly sought after as a public speaker, delivering inspirational addresses and moving performances in such diverse venues as college campuses, union rallies and business conventions.
Glover recently starred in Almost Christmas for Universal Studios. He was also seen was seen in Rage co-starring Nicolas Cage, Beyond the Lights and the independent Complete Unknown. He will soon be completing roles in Come Sunday opposite Chewitel Ejiofor, Old Man & The Gun with Robert Redford and Proud Mary opposite Taraji P. Henson.
Lee Aronsohn is one of America’s most successful television writers and producers. Aronsohn co-created the sitcom Two and a Half Men, and also wrote the original music for the series. He also served as an executive producer, writer, and director for The Bang Theory. Aronsohn has written for many other beloved notable television shows including The Love Boat, Who’s the Boss?, Murphy Brown, Grace Under Fire, and Cybill.
René Balcer is well known as the showrunner, head writer and executive producer of the iconic television series Law & Order, and as the co-creator and showrunner of its hit spin-off series Law & Order Criminal Intent. His latest production is Law & Order True Crime - The Menendez Murders, an eight-part limited series for NBC starring Edie Falco.
René has also written and produced award-winning documentaries on art and China, and has recently completed Above the Drowning Sea, a documentary about Jewish refugees in China.
He has won an Emmy, the Peabody Award, a Writers Guild of America Award and four Edgar Awards for his television work.
His writing on social issues has been recognized with awards from Planned Parenthood, the Alliance for Justice, the American Bar Association and other organizations.
Samuel Roukin is best known for his role as the villainous John Graves Simcoe on AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies.
His directorial debut ‘The Break’ inspired by his work as a DJ, is playing at RIFF this year and his second short film ‘Demus' is currently in post production.
Roukin began his career as an actor in British theater including roles in Trevor Nunn’s Hamlet at The Old Vic; Padraic in The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Leicester Curve; For the National Theatre, Bijan Sheibani’s The Kitchen ; Sir Nicholas Hytner’s His Dark Materials and Henry IV Parts 1 & 2. Roukin also spent a season at The Royal Shakespeare Company in the lead role of Pip in Declan Donnellan’s adaptation of Great Expectations. Most recently on Broadway, Roukin played Valvert in The Roundabout’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac.
On TV he can be seen in Agents of Shield, The Librarians, The Magicians, Salem, Housewife 49, Appropriate Adult, and Richard II, produced by Sam Mendes. Roukin’s feature film debut was in the Oscar®-nominated Happy-Go-Lucky, directed by Mike Leigh. Other films include Jane Campion’s Bright Star, David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Equity. He is about to begin principal photography on Miss Atkins’ Army, a film about female spies in World War II.
As a DJ and Producer under the name ROUKIN, he plays at clubs and festivals around the US and beyond, specialising in Deep House and Tech House. His pop-up nightclub VOLTAGE tours the US promoting emerging electronic talent and is taking over The Hofheimer Building for RIFF on 4/26.
Roukin is a native of Southport, England, was trained at The University of Hull, and earned a distinction from Bristol Old Vic. He now lives in Los Angeles.
Carolyn Hsu-Balcer is a designer, philanthropist and art collector based in Los Angeles and New York.
As a philanthropist, Carolyn has worked to foster Sino-American understanding through education and culture. Her interest in cross-cultural exchanges has led her to organize ground-breaking exhibits of Chinese art including “Xu Bing Tobacco Project Virginia” (2011 VMFA), “Light Before Dawn” (2013 Asia Society Hong Kong), “Blooming in the Shadows” (2011 China Institute NY), “Ming Cho Lee: A Retrospective” (2011 Ningbo Museum), and “Oil and Water: Re-Interpreting Ink” (2014 MOCA NY).
Carolyn has produced award-winning documentaries on Chinese art, including “The No Name Painting Association” and “Xu Bing Tobacco Project Virginia”. In publishing, she has sponsored the publication of a 13-volume catalogue of the works of the Wuming group of Chinese artists, and the publication of “Ai Wei Wei: New York Photographs 1983-1993”.