RiverRun 2023 is pleased and honored to announce the Jury Awards for the Festival, which ran April 13-22 this year, celebrating our 25th Anniversary.

“I was thrilled with our film lineup this year, one of the best we have ever offered,” said Rob Davis, RiverRun Executive Director. “It was wonderful to welcome so many faces – both old and new – and host award ceremonies, wonderful panels, and of course so many film screenings. As always, RiverRun is grateful to all of the incredible people who make the Festival happen – our staff, volunteers, filmmakers, and, most importantly, all that come out to attend our screenings and events. We had a wonderful time celebrating our Silver Anniversary!”

2023 Awards:

Master of Cinema Awards:

  • Karen Allen
  • Tom Schulman

Spark Award:

  • Emily Harrold


Re:Vision Independent Narrative Feature Competition:

  • Best Narrative Feature: Trapped Balloon directed by Hiroyuki Miyagawa
  • Peter Brunette Award for Best Director: Zia Mohajerjasbi for Know Your Place
  • Best Screenplay: Hiroyuki Miyagawa for Trapped Balloon
  • Best Cinematography: Kamei Yoshinori for Trapped Balloon
  • Best Performance in a Feature Film: Masahiro Higashide for Trapped Balloon
  • Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble: Know Your Place
  • Special Jury Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance: Jacky Jung in B-Side: For Taylor

Documentary Features:

  • Best Documentary Feature: Bad Press directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker & Joe Peeler
  • Best Director of a Documentary Feature: Jesse Rudoy, Dusty & Stones
  • Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Curren Sheldon, King Coal

Narrative Shorts:

  • Best Narrative Short: Cousins directed by Karina Dandashi
  • Best Student Narrative Short: Swim Captain directed by Christa Haley
  • Special Jury Award for Social Impact: Thursday directed by Bren Cukier
  • Special Jury Award for Best International Short Film: Three Grains of Salt directed by Ingrid Chikhaoui

Documentary Shorts (RiverRun is an Academy Award qualifying Festival for Documentary Shorts):

  • Best Documentary Short: Oasis directed by Justine Martin
  • Honorable Mention for Innovative Storytelling: Everything Wrong and Nowhere to Go directed by Sindha Agha
  • Special Jury Award: Breaking Silence directed by Amy Bench and Annie Silverstein

Animated Shorts (RiverRun is an Academy Award qualifying Festival for Animated Shorts):

  • Best Animated Short: The Record directed by Jonathan Laskar
  • Special Jury Award for Documentary Animation: Europe by Bidon directed by Samuel Albaric & Thomas Trichet
  • Special Jury Award for Experimental Animation: Ecce directed by Margherita Premuroso

Kilpatrick Townsend Audience Choice Award:

  • Go On, Be Brave directed by Brian Beckman & Miriam McSpadden


Reel South Award:

RiverRun is pleased to be affiliated with Reel South. Reel South SHORTS, the digital hive of the PBS series Reel South, showcases the best in Southern short-form and is built on partnerships with the South’s regional film festivals. This year’s Reel South Winner was I’m the Girl – The Story of a Photograph, directed by Thomas Southerland.


Pitch Fest Awards:

The 12th annual RiverRun Pitch Fest was held with college students from four colleges from North Carolina pitching their documentary film projects to a panel of judges in hopes of winning cash prizes. First place was awarded to Types directed by Taylor Rogers from Wake Forest University. Second place was awarded to Print is Dead: A Documentary About the Decline of the Publishing Industry directed by Aiden Winter-Deely from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.