2019 Festival Guests

Guests of the Festival

Join the Festival Q&A sessions and Coffee Talks with these special guests!

2019 Festival Guests • James Portolese

James Portolese

Writer + Producer

From South Bend by way of Chicago, James Portolese has more than 40 producing credits to his name.

In 1997, he joined Signature Pictures on the Sony Lot, where he worked as a screenwriter, developing scripts and producing a slate of films for 15 years. These included The Black Dahlia with Scarlett Johansson, Imaginary Heroes with Sigourney Weaver, and Universal Soldier: Regeneration with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Additionally, Portolese wrote the screenplays for It’s Alive, Until Death, Feardotcom, Circadian Rhythm, Boxes, and The Decade. He recently produced Spare Room, starring Skyler Samuels and Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen and featuring the music of Billy Bob Thornton.

Portolese has a B.A. in film, television, and radio and a minor in history and art history from Indiana University. He works at Solstice Studios in Hollywood as vice president of physical production.

RBFF Appearances

Coffee Talk: Filmmakers Panel | Indiana: The State of Filmmaking
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 10 a.m.
Ignition Music Garage
Free

Spare Room | Screening + Q&A
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 6:30 p.m.
Art House
$12 or Festival Pass

2019 Festival Guests • Nikhil Melnechuk

Nikhil Melnechuk

Writer + Director

Nikhil Melnechuk is an award-winning filmmaker, actor, and poet in New York City, and a graduate of Wesleyan University. He was executive director of Bowery Poetry from 2013 to 2018, founded Bowery Poetry Studios, and co-founded and runs Mystic Entertainment.

His feature documentary production Don’t Be Nice from Juno Films is being screened at the River Bend Film Festival. His short films Jerome’s Bouquet, Something Happened, Jack and Jill, and Fevah have played and won awards at festivals internationally.

As an actor, Melnechuk most recently played in Netflix’s The Kindergarten Teacher and Proxy Films’ Twice At Once, and his poetry was recently published in Editorial Galaxia’s bilingual anthology, Latexo (Heart) Beat.

RBFF Appearances

Don’t Be Nice | Screening + Q&A
THURSDAY, MAY 2, 7:30 p.m.
The Goshen Theater
$12 or Festival Pass

Coffee Talk: Developing the Doc
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 10 a.m.
Goshen Brewing Company
Free

2019 Festival Guests • Shawn Rhodes

Shawn Rhodes

Producer

Shawn Rhodes grew up in Hesston, Kansas, and eventually majored in communication at Goshen College – twice. Rhodes cut his teeth in radio at Goshen College’s WGCS radio station and later worked in commercial radio before making the switch to network television. He is one of the masterminds behind the impromptu/sketch/music variety show Heavy Pork.

This Is Love, a “funkumentary” about the life and career of Rudy Love & The Love Family, is Rhodes’ fourth venture in film. This Is Love had its world premiere in London at Raindance, where it won the Raindance Spirit Award Film of the Festival.

RBFF Appearances

This is Love | Screening + Q&A
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 7:30 p.m.
The Goshen Theater
$12 or Festival Pass

Coffee Talk: Developing the Doc
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 10 a.m.
Goshen Brewing Company
Free

Listening Party: A Conversation with Rudy Love
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2 P.m.
Ignition Music
$12 or Festival Pass

2019 Festival Guests • Rudy Love and the Love Family

Rudy Love and The Love Family

Musicians

Rudy Love developed a love for singing and performing from his gospel musician father, Robert. Through his father, Rudy met many top performers in the music business when they passed through Wichita, Kansas. He formed his first group in grade school and was part of many more before settling on Rudy Love & the Love Family while in college.

Rudy became a demo vocalist for Motown West and South, working under producers Clayton Ivey and Terry Woodford. He later worked with Sly Stone as a bandleader and manager, but eventually returned home to Wichita where his mother runs the soul food restaurant Mama Love’s. He performs in events and functions in the Wichita area, including the annual A Family Affair Celebration, and has written words and lyrics for and helped with the production of local plays.

The Love FamilyThe Love Family
Natives of Wichita, Kansas, Rudy Love & The Love Family have been playing their signature soulful music to audiences in the Midwest and around the world for the last four decades. The family members were influenced by their father Robert Love, who made a career touring the country as a musician with gospel and R&B artists. During the 1960s and ’70s, Rudy Love & The Love Family worked with an array of Motown artists. As a solo artist, Rudy Love earned accolades touring in Europe and Asia.

A documentary about the family, This Is Love, will be screened during the River Bend Film Festival. The “funkumentary” recounts the ups and downs of Rudy Love & The Love Family’s music career.

RBFF Appearances

This is Love | Screening + Q&A
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 7:30 p.m.
The Goshen Theater
$12 or Festival Pass

Listening Party: A Conversation with Rudy Love
SATURDAY, MAY 4,  2 p.m.
Ignition Music
$12 or Pass

Concert: Rudy Love & The Love Family
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 8:30 p.m.
The Goshen Theater
$20 Concert Pass or VIP Pass

2019 Festival Guests • John Hancock

John Hancock

Director

John Hancock’s success on the New York stage led to his being appointed artistic director of the San Francisco Actors Workshop. Hancock later directed at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and the New Repertory Theatre Company in New York. He worked closely on several occasions with Tennessee Williams, who says in his autobiography that of all the directors he ever worked with, Hancock was “the most gifted for cuts and transpositions.”

Hancock’s feature film credits include Bang The Drum Slowly (Paramount), California Dreaming (AIP), Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (Paramount), and the Christmas classic Prancer (Orion), starring Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, and Rebecca Harrell, which he shot on his family’s fruit farm in LaPorte County, Indiana. In the summer of 2018, he was back on set filming his latest feature, The Girls of Summer, which is in post-production and slated to be complete this summer.

RBFF Appearance

The Art of Filmmaking: A Conversation with John Hancock
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 4 P.M.
Art House
Festival Pass required

2019 Festival Guests • Robert Townsend

Robert Townsend

Artist

The artist Robert Townsend was born in Downey, California, in 1974. His aesthetic draws heavily from his California upbringing and life in Los Angeles. His work is a mixture of pop, photo-realism, surrealism, and representational interpretations of largely mid-century subject matter.

In 2014, Townsend began a series of large-scale paintings that would later become the focus of the 2018 documentary film My Indiana Muse, which is being screened at the River Bend Film Festival at 4:30 p.m. Saturday following his talk. After purchasing more than 2,500 Kodachrome slides from a single collection, he discovered his muse: Helen Conley. Townsend began creating large-scale paintings chronicling the story of husband and wife Helen and Roy, and their life and travels, as told through their slide collection.

RBFF Appearance

A Conversation with Artist Robert Townsend
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 3 P.M.
Art House
Free

2019 Festival Guests • Sarah Elizabeth

Sarah Elizabeth

Makeup Artist

A Goshen native residing in Vancouver, Canada, Sarah Elizabeth is an award-winning makeup artist for television, theater, and film. She graduated from Goshen College with a B.A. in visual art and minor in theater design.

In 2012, she was a contestant on the third season of the SyFy Channel’s reality television series Face Off, appearing in nine of the 11 episodes and assisting on the winning team. Elizabeth worked on the third and fourth seasons of iZombie and the second season of Travelers. She has worked on and built prosthetics for Van Helsing and Wu Assassins and has a new Netflix series set to come out in August. Elizabeth is currently working on season four of Van Helsing.

Festival Appearance

Workshop: Make Up for Film
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2 p.m.
Art House
Festival Pass required

Other guests of the Festival include:

John Armstrong, COO, Pigasus Pictures

Nathan Bechtold, President, Indiana Filmmakers Network

Kelly Daisy, Producer, Girls of Summer

Elizabeth Derstine, Filmmaker, Honeysuckle Whiskey

Amy Howell, Director, Film Indiana

Kyle Hufford, Filmmaker, Deep Dive

Riley Mills, Filmmaker, Honeysuckle Whiskey

Sam Mirpoorian, Filmmaker

Adam Howell, Director of Production & Events, Heartland Film Festival

Zach Spicer, CEO, Pigasus Pictures

Robert Townsend, Artist and subject of My Indiana Muse

2020 River Bend Film Festival Sponsors

2020 River Bend Film Festival Sponsors

This project is made possible by the support of the Indiana Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.