RiverRun honors late THR film critic

Peter Brunette to become namesake of fest's director award

Peter Brunette, the late film historian and THR film critic, will become the namesake of the RiverRun International Film Festival's best director award starting next year.

Brunette, who died June 16 while attending the Taormina Film Festival in Italy, had a lifelong passion for film that led him to write books about several influential directors and teach film studies at George Mason and Wake Forest universities.

"Peter introduced us to the greatest directors and showed us how films could open up new worlds of understanding for their viewers," said Brunette's sister, Rose Dean. "I can't think of a more fitting tribute to his legacy."

The award, to be selected by the narrative feature jury, will be called the Peter Brunette Award for Best Director. The next RiverRun fest runs April 8-17 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Brunette's job at Wake Forest put him in Winston-Salem, the home of RiverRun since 2003. He pitched in on everything from serving on juries and suggesting new films to getting the word out about the growing festival.

"His contributions helped shape RiverRun into what it is today," said RiverRun executive director Andrew Rodgers. "It seemed only fitting to name our top directing award after a man whose entire career was spent appreciating great films and filmmakers."

Brunette's love of foreign film and directors makes the award's name change all the more fitting since previous winners include Giorgos Lanthimos of Greece ("Dogtooth") and Paolo Sorrentino of Italy ("Il Divo").
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