Building on classroom learning

How do you increase attendance at an international film festival for the most difficult demographic to attract — young adults in the 18-to-21 age range? Ask junior communication major Mandi Yohn. She took on the challenge when she accepted an internship position with RiverRun International Film Festival.

As part of her internship, Yohn helps supervise nine students from local colleges and universities who are ambassadors for the film festival. She has been focusing their efforts on peer-to-peer advertising and marketing — working with local coffee shops and restaurants frequented by the younger crowd to publicize the festival, which has been an annual spring event in Winston-Salem for 13 years. Facebook and Twitter have also been key components in her outreach to encourage young people to get out and see the films.

“I’m not sure what my plans will be long-term, but I know that my internship with RiverRun has helped sharpened my skills,” says Yohn, who is earning minors in psychology and film studies. “I’ve learned the importance of teamwork. From the staff to the volunteers, everyone has to work together to make sure things runs smoothly.”

RiverRun International Film Festival, whose mission is to foster a greater understanding of cultures and perspectives through film, runs through April 17. The festival presents over 100 films from over 30 countries. RiverRun issued more than 13,500 tickets in 2010.

“At RiverRun, movie-goers have an opportunity to see things from a different cultural perspective and to look at issues facing the world with an open mind,” says Yohn. “It takes a lot of work and attention to detail to pull off a large-scale event such as RiverRun, but it’s been rewarding because it’s unlikely there will be another chance for people my age to see these movies.”

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