Maiden Alley Cinema preps for first in-person River’s Edge International Film Festival since 2018
Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah is gearing up this week to host the first in-person River’s Edge International Film Festival (REIFF) since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival will run from Nov. 11-14 at the arthouse cinema and the Yeiser Art Center.
For the festival’s 17th year, independent filmmakers from Kentucky, Nashville, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and more will coalesce in Paducah to see each other’s work throughout the weekend and connect during a brunch on Nov. 13.
REIFF opted for an all-virtual approach in December 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. After skipping putting on the 2019 festival amid leadership changes, this coming festival will mark the first to be held in-person in about three years.
“When you’re an independent filmmaker, it’s so much more special to see your film on a big screen,” said Rebecca Madding, executive director of Maiden Alley Cinema. “It’s not a project that you put on YouTube or Facebook. It’s in its home, which is in a theater. It’s like going from your mom’s fridge to an actual art gallery.”
One such independent filmmaker is Kiel Thorlton, who wrote and directed “A Place Called Home” — showing Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. CST at Maiden Alley — entirely in Logan County where he grew up. Thorlton said western Kentucky was particularly conducive to his “southern, American gothic” tale, despite not being a major film market.
“I don’t have to live in Atlanta for three years to get one project made,” Thorlton said. “I can live wherever I want, work with the people that I know are in those areas, get the projects made and plant them where we feel like the projects would be best suited, which is what I’m doing right now.”
This year’s lineup of 26 films, clocking in at 18 hours, ranges from contemplative documentaries to surreal animation and everything in between. Madding said narrowing down an initial 102 submissions, consisting of 66 hours of video, was a challenge.
“Sometimes, we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to play this film, but I also want to play that film,’” Madding said. “We take into consideration our Paducah audience, what’s important to them and what we think they would want to come see. We also try to bring in things that maybe they wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else.”
Attendees can purchase online or at the Maiden Alley box office a $50 all-access pass for the entire weekend or a $10 pass for a two-hour block of films. Those who purchased a pass but missed a film will be able to view it online. Madding said the online option will be advertised closer to the festival.
Additionally, Madding said festivals benefit not only Maiden Alley Cinema but also other downtown businesses. She plans to host other film festivals at Maiden Alley in the future, focusing in particular on providing opportunities for young people to share their work.
“Arts and culture is what [Paducah] is known for,” Madding said. “We are incredibly lucky to have such wonderful business partners to help prop us up. I mean, we kind of help each other. What’s better than dinner and a movie? That’s a big reason why so many arts nonprofits are located right downtown, right near those businesses. We’re like a little ecosystem.”