Film takes over town for 11th annual festival

By Kellen MacGregor, copy editor, and Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor

The Riverside Saginaw Film Festival took the city of Saginaw by storm for its 11th year in a row from November 9 to 12.

Spanning five different venues scattered throughout downtown and Old Town Saginaw, the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival brought four days’ worth of independent, foreign, classic and documentary films to the area. The screening locations for the 2017 year were the Saginaw Club, Pit and Balcony Community Theatre, Hoyt Library, First Congregational Church and the Castle Museum.

Established in 2007 as a grassroots movement, the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival is an effort to bring different, unconventional and contemporary movies to the Saginaw area. That doesn’t mean just obscure films, but notable ones that are deserving to be screened as well. The 2017 Riverside Saginaw Film Festival saw movies featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Nicholas Hoult, Anne Hathaway and Kristen Stewart, among others. The films screened this year also boast accolades of winning awards from other festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival and the Austin Fantastic Festival.

“We spend nearly a year researching and selecting our films. The majority have won others at other film festivals or created Oscar buzz, but are not likely to play in our commercial theaters,” says Irene Hensinger, chairperson of the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival Committee.

One such film, “The Square,” was presented at the Hoyt Library. This Palme d’Or-winning film by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund satirizes the modern art world and its myriad, orotund quirks. From a performance art piece involving an ape-like man harassing dinnergoers to an advertisement for the museum featuring the literal explosion of a blond beggar child, “The Square” shows how self-obsessed, and sometimes even preposterous, the art world is. Funny, provocative and philosophical, this Östlund mockumentary-style movie is bound to make you laugh, think and perhaps shed a tear (from laughing at the ridiculous pseudo-problems certain curators deal with on a daily basis).

The Riverside Saginaw Film Festival aims to be an economic boost for the center of Saginaw, providing support to local establishments and other non-profit groups while also being a platform for emerging filmmakers. In 2014 the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival was recognized by the Saginaw Arts and Enrichment Commission for their contribution to the city and was given the All Area Arts Award.

“The festival has developed a loyal following throughout its years for showing great films and hosting interesting speakers and associated activities. Festival attendees reflect all ages and come from throughout the Great Lakes Bay area,” says Hensinger.

For more information find the festival online at

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