Audience awards go to Picture Day, Rising From Ashes and Remote Area Medical.

Francois Ozon’s In The House [pictured] won the narrative feature award and Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon’s I Am Breathing won the documentary feature prize as the 15th RiverRun International Film Festival came to a close Sunday night in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Andrew Rodgers, the festival’s executive director, told Screen: “We’ve seen phenomenal growth year on year. We’re proud of and excited about how this festival has grown.”

The festival screened 143 films and broke new records of ticket sales as well as number of sold-out screenings.

The audience awards went to Kate Melville’s Picture Day (narrative), TC Johnstone’s Rising From Ashes (documentary) and Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman’s Remote Area Medical (Best American indie).

The Peter Brunette Award for Best Director went to William Vega’s La Sirga, Best Actor was Aniello Arena in Reality, Best Actress was Suzanne Clement in Laurence Anyways, Best Cinematography was Sofia Oggioni for La Sirga, Best Screenplay was Ozon for In The House and a special jury prize went to Alain Gomis’ Tey.

Other documentary prizes were Best Director to Ilian Metev for Sofia’s Last Ambulance, the Human Rights Award to Kalyanee Mam’s A River Changes Course, Best Cinematography to Sebastián Hofmann, Pedro González Rubio and Fernanda Romandía for Canicula, and a special jury prize to Morgan Neville’s Twenty Feet From Stardom.

Best Narrative Short was Trois Secondes et Demie by Edouard Beaucamp, Best Documentary Short was Joshua Izenberg’s Slomo and Best Animated Short was Isaac King’s Second Hand.

Local connections, Pitchfest

The festival screened an impressive number of films with local connections – including showing the latest works from UNC School of the Arts alumni David Gordon Green (Prince Avalanche), Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner), Zach Clark (White Reindeer), and Jeff Nichols (Mud).

At the second-annual PitchFest for documentary shorts, the winner was Wake Forest University’s Andrew Austin for The Power of Glove, about the cult afterlife of Mattel’s 1980s invention The Power Glove, with the runner-up prize going to Melissa Willenborg from UNC-Greensboro for Tsunami Flotsam: Coast to Coast, about American beachcombers finding debris from Japan.

Young talent

The festival presented its second annual Spark Awards for young talent to actress Anna Margaret Hollyman (White Reindeer, Somebody Up There Likes Me), director Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), and actress Madeleine Martin (Californication, The Discoverers).

“A lot of young talents don’t get an opportunity for that kind of recognistion. We feel it’s important to single them out at the very beginnings of their careers,” Rodgers said.

Honorees and guests

The festival welcomed Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler as this year’s Master of Cinema honorees. The New York-based producers gave a masterclass (more here) on Sunday afternoon ahead of the closing-night screening of their production At Any Price, which is directed by acclaimed Winston-Salem native Ramin Bahrani.

Guests for the 10-day festival included directors Michiel Ten Horn, Jose Alvarez, Kevin Corrigan, David Fenster, Angela Snow, Jeff Reichert and more.

Jurors included filmmakers Martha Stephens, Megan Griffiths, Richie Mehta and Diana Reichenbach, Milwaukee Film Executive Jonathan Jackson, PBS Assistant Director Jen Ruppman, Criterion Collection associate editor Michael Koresky, and Cartoon Network Studios’ Brooke Keesling.

“The highlight for me is the connections between people — our audiences, guests, filmmakers and jurors,” Rodgers added.

RiverRun’s programme team includes programme manager Mary Dossinger and programme coordinator Christopher Holmes. The programme is also notable for its Altered States strand, devoted to “new directions in American cinema.”