Wright State grad’s indie film receives national attention

Wright State University graduate Nicole Riegel’s riveting debut film “Holler” is a Film Independent Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature and has been named one of the Top 10 Independent Films of 2021 by National Board of Review.

The recipients of Film Independent’s Best First Feature Award, which is given to the director and producer, will be revealed at the 37th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards on Sunday, March 6 in Santa Monica, California.

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Established in 1909, the National Board of Review awards excellence in filmmaking with choices often considered a significant precursor to the Academy Awards. In particular, over 220 films were viewed last year through a select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics and students. The full list of 2021 award recipients in categories ranging from Best Picture and Best Director to Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary will be honored Tuesday, Jan. 11 in New York City.

Written and directed by Riegel and based and filmed in Jackson, Ohio, Riegel’s hometown, the gritty “Holler” tells the story of Ruth Avery, a teenager who joins her brother in a dangerous scrap metal crew to pay for college. Ruth ultimately finds herself torn between a promising future and a family she would have to leave behind.

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“Holler” was an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, the South by Southwest Film Festival and the Deauville Film Festival in 2020. It was released in theaters and on-demand on June 11, 2021 by IFC Films, which acquired the film’s North American rights.

Credit: Richard Shotwell

Credit: Richard Shotwell

Riegel graduated from Wright State in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in motion pictures, particularly studying with Academy Award winners Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar. She also produced plays in Wright State’s Directing Lab.

In addition to serving in the Army National Guard prior to enrolling at Wright State, she is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts writing program at the University of California-Los Angeles. She was also listed by Variety as one of “10 Directors to Watch.”

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