The annual River Bend Film Festival has moved its roots to the city of Goshen. The three-day independent cinema celebration has been held in South Bend for the past 14 years, but the festival now finds its home in the heart of downtown Goshen, celebrating its inaugural year with thousands of attendees.
In collaboration with Eyedart Creative Studio, Goshen Theater, Art House and many other local businesses, the festival was a huge success, fueled by the community’s support for the arts.
“Moving the River Bend Film Festival from South Bend to Goshen is a really big deal,” said Jesse Bontreger, a junior and FiveCore Media employee. “I think it speaks volumes about the support for the arts here in Goshen. There’s a real culture of creativity here. Goshen has such a vibrant arts scene and the community really embraced and supported the film festival. It really shows how much this city cares about the arts.”
Bontreger was one of many Goshen College students involved with the festival. Organizers reached out to students with opportunities for social media internships, conducting video interviews, and more. David Kendall, associate professor of communication, was also one of many faces prominent throughout the festival. Kendall participated as an interviewer and discussion facilitator throughout all of the public Q&A sessions with the visiting film directors.
Students who weren’t producing live coverage of the event at 91.1 The Globe or conducting personal interviews with FiveCore Media were enjoying the many film showings and various other events.
One festival event called on the talents of several GC affiliates, including Jessica Baldanzi, associate professor of English, and Regina Shands-Stoltzfus, assistant professor of PJCS, and students, as they were cast in the live reading of Jim Strouse’s
Strouse, a Goshen College graduate, also had his film “People Places Things” featured at the festival, along with others including “The Flying Dutchmen,” “The Looking Glass” and “Sand Castles.” Of more than 200 entries, 47 films were chosen to be featured at the River Bend Film Festival.
In fact, many of the filmmakers of these movies had Goshen ties. While both Jim Strouse and Jon Helmuth attended Goshen College, Jordan Hodges, a Goshen native, was also present as a writer, director and actor at the festival, featuring his film
“It’s really inspiring to see filmmakers come out of Goshen and make a name for themselves in New York, Los Angeles, and other big cities,” said Bontreger.
ThE festival did more than just show the films; a final award ceremony was held, celebrating not only awards for best picture, but also giving awards for best actor/actress, best screenplay, best picture, etc. And while the festival’s feature films brought many to Goshen Theater, festival-goers also viewed short films, bumpers, student short films and more all throughout the weekend.
Paul Zehr and Christina Hofer, seniors, presented their work, “Gender Parity in GC Theater.” The two conducted research to find out the ratio of male to female actors and playwrights of the GC mainstage productions in the last 10 years. They also talked with students and faculty in the theater department about their perceptions of gender parity in GC theater.
“The most valuable part was getting our research out there,” Zehr said, “especially since it directly pertains to issues on campus.”
Students that participate can gain experience with presenting, but students and faculty members in the audience have the opportunity to learn a lot.
“The presentations are short and packed with deep information,” Leinbach said. “So if you have an interest outside your major, the symposium is a good way to learn about it.”
Baer also found the presentations to be insightful.
“Students are doing really good work to fix actual problems,” she said. “We [students] need to listen to each other. There were multiple presentations about gender disparities on this campus, and I learned a lot.”