The Rome International Film Festival returns with big names on big screens.


Ashley Hall

The DeSoto Theater is a central location for the festival with screenings ranging from short film blocks to feature films.

Ashley Hall, Editor-in-Chief

The 18th Annual Rome International Film Festival took place Nov. 11 to 14. Figures in the film industry such as producers, writers, actors and directors were present for the duration of the event to see their films featured in one of the biggest film festivals in Georgia.

The film festival proceedings are handled by GHC’s very own Division Chair of Film and Theater, Seth Ingram. He has been the Executive Producer of RIFF since 2015 and has turned it into a high-profile event.

The inside of the Rome City Auditorium is prepared for attendees to view the films the festival has to offer. (Photo by Ashley Hall)

The film viewing locations for the festival were the DeSoto Theater and the Rome City Auditorium. Both are located on Broad Street, the downtown Rome area filled with restaurants and shops.

This year, the event was visited by the Consulate General of Israel. Filmmaker Dovi Keich met with the Consulate to showcase his short film, “Gruf & Me,” which is mixed media, featuring live action and animation.

The film festival gives filmmakers like Keich a chance to showcase their films to a wider audience and get their names out into the film industry. The festival is full of networking opportunities with directors and producers being on the lookout for possible talent and writers bouncing story ideas between each other.

Dan Mirvish brought his independent film “18 ½,” a “Watergate thriller/comedy,” to RIFF upon invitation to screen it. Mirvish is also the co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival.

The film “18 1/2” is centered around the conspiracy of the eighteen-and-a-half gap in the Nixon Watergate tapes. (Photo by Ashley Hall)

“As the filmmaker, I love going to festivals and seeing the film with an audience, which is so rare with COVID . . . ” said Mirvish, “I’ll do a long Q and A too until they drag me off the stage and I really love that.”

Mirvish’s film has had three other audience screenings at film festivals. A wider release of the film is planned for June 2022. It was awarded the RIFF 2021 Special Jury Award for Creative Vision.

The RIFF has the advantage of reaching out to an audience that would not normally engage in certain genres. The festival featured genres such as documentaries, animation, narratives and horror. It also reaches across different demographics with some of the festival’s short film block categories being LGBT, female leads and foreign films.

“The Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre,” a film sponsored by Fangoria and co-written and starred in by Chris Margetis, was able to do just that by reaching an audience that would not normally flock towards horror films.

The “Coffee with the Producers” panel was an opportunity for film industry workers and students to mingle and bounce around visions and ideas. (Photo by Ashley Hall)

“To get people to see a movie that they otherwise wouldn’t normally see, I think that’s one of the coolest things about festivals,” said Margetis. 

Margetis said that the audience exposure to multiple genres at the film festival can “broaden the horizons” for people that wouldn’t typically go for certain genres.

Margetis added, “One of the exciting things about going to a film festival is you’re not pigeonholed into any particular genre and you get to see very creative things that are probably never going to work their way through the Hollywood system.”

Students can take advantage of the networking and Q and A panels the RIFF offers.

“Being able to meet people and talk to people, and see how they did what they did, and what their inspiration was, and how they did this and just being able to ask a bunch of questions that you don’t often have the opportunity to ask, I think is good,” said Katie Weatherford, a film major at GHC who attends the Rome campus.

The RIFF will be returning next fall with more opportunities for filmmakers and students.