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RiverRun Film Festival Presents Actor Paul Schneider With Emerging Master Award

Festival also recognizes rising talents Amy Seimetz, Brady Corbet and David Oyelowo.

Paul Schneider

The RiverRun International Film Festival, which runs through Sunday in Winston-Salem, N.C., celebrated a native son Saturday night as presented its 2012 Emerging Master Award to actor Paul Schneider.

A native of Ashville, N.C. and a 1998 graduate of UNC School of the Arts, which also is located in Winston-Salem, Schneider was feted after a screening of Bright Star, Jane Campion’s 2009 feature about the love affair between poet John Keats and dressmaker Fanny Brawne, in which Schneider plays the poet Charles Armitage Brown.

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“I was very happy to come back and accept this award,” said Scheider, who made his screen debut in fellow classmate’s David Gordon Green’s George Washington and who has since gone on to appear in such films as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Lars and the Real Girl and last year’s The Flowers of War.

Schneider recalled how, while in high school, before he’d even decided to pursue an acting career, he accompanied his parents to a screening of Campion’s The Piano in Ashville. “It really shook me,” he said. “It was the first time that I saw a movie that was entertainment and art.” When, 14 years later, Campion sought him out for the part in Bright Star, he brought along his ticket stub from that showing of The Piano to prove that he was a genuine fan. “It was really amazing to come full circle,” he said.

In a post-screening conversation conducted by UNCSA professor of filmmaking Dale Pollock, Schneider said of his career, “I’ve been trying hard to not take the money, but to work with good directors,” adding, “I read so few scripts that I really like, I’m sure that frustrates the hell out of my representation.”

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The previous evening, the festival also acknowledged several rising talents as it handed out its first-ever Spark Awards, recognizing promising artists.

The honorees were actress, producer and director Amy Seimetz, whose latest directorial effort Sun Don’t Shine premiered at the recent SXSW Film Festival; actor Brady Corbet, whose credits include Martha Marcy May Marlene and Melancholia as well as Simon Killer, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; and actor David Oyelowo, who’ll be seen alongside Tom Cruise in the upcoming One Shot as well as in Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln, and who also just got the good news that he’ll be heading to the Cannes Film Festival, which is screening Lee DanielsThe Paperboy, in which he also appears.