The Rome International Film Festival has continued its tradition of attracting renowned entertainers right here to Rome, Georgia.
Actor, filmmaker, and musician Billy Bob Thornton was on hand Sunday for a 25th anniversary screening of his acclaimed 1996 film ‘Sling Blade’. Prior to that screening, he was bestowed RIFF’s inaugural Flannery O’Connor Award for Greatness in Storytelling. He was also gifted a key to the city by Sammy Rich, Rome’s City Manager. A proclamation was read in Thornton’s honor by Mayor Craig McDaniel. Thornton also engaged ‘In Conversation’ with actor, director, producer, and writer Michael Dunaway, during which the Academy Award winner remarked that he’s always been inspired by music and novels, as well as history.
Saturday highlights at RIFF included the presentation of the inaugural Melvin Van Peebles Award to the late filmmaker’s son Mario, who is also well known in the industry for films such as 1991’s ‘New Jack City’. Actress Jasmine Guy (best known for the role of Whitley Gilbert-Wayne in the sitcom ‘A Different World’) was on hand for that presentation. Guy congratulated Van Peebles on the award and stated that he is a ‘joy to work with’.
Van Peebles said that his father would have been impressed with the diversity of people in attendance at RIFF.
A key to the city of Rome was additionally presented by Rich to Van Peebles, for whom a proclamation was read by McDaniel. Van Peebles also engaged ‘In Conversation’ with Dunaway.
Van Peebles’ film ‘Baadasssss!’ from 2003, in which he played his late father, was screened on Saturday.