With so many film festivals happening around the world, it is hard to know which ones deserve your time or effort. New Englanders are in luck, however, and need to look no further than their own state for some of the best festivals. Recently rebranded, FLICKERS: The Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), is one of those that should not to be missed.
Known for discovering new filmmakers and having a strong shorts program, RIIFF takes place in venues around the Rhode Island area and is the only United States Festival that is truly statewide in its presentation. Created in 1997 by a non-profit film society in Newport, Rhode Island, RIIFF was put on the map in 1998 when it premiered previous honorary chair, Bobby Farrelly’s, hit, There’s Something About Mary. Although that movie guaranteed years of comedy submissions, the festival is one of only a few in New England that accepts works of any type. RIIFF is also one of 65 festivals around the world where featured shorts can qualify for an Academy Award nomination.
Since its inception, the festival has become well known for discovering new talent and screening films that you would not necessarily see at other festivals.
When we interviewed Executive Director and CEO of the festival, George T. Marshall, he told us that the “mission [of the festival] is to get new filmmakers noticed.” Unlike many other festivals that screen some solicited films, RIIFF is built entirely on submissions that come directly from filmmakers. Last year, the festival received 3400 submissions and this year, Marshall is expecting that number to be even higher.
Mr. Marshall also explained that the festival is so dedicated to filmmakers, that once someone submits their film, they receive regular updates and have access to numerous resources on the RIIFF website. There is even an “Adopt-a-Filmmaker” program offered for strapped for cash filmmakers. This program is supported by generous RIIFF patrons who host filmmakers at their home during the festival.
During our interview, Marshall repeatedly emphasized the importance of the New England film community to “work in cohesion” instead of competing against each other. These and other programs prove that RIIFF is clearly dedicated to supporting its filmmakers and the greater film community in Rhode Island and New England.
Along with the annual festival in August, RIIFF hosts a yearly Film Forum and a variety of other events for the New England community. Some upcoming events include their Providence Oscar Night America Celebration (one of 50 in the U.S. sanctioned by the Academy), a GLBT Expo and their Annual First Look Screening, which previews some of the short films set to premiere at this year’s festival.
RIIFF also provides many other opportunities to get involved for those who have more time. Throughout the year, RIIFF hosts a series of “You Be the Judge” nights, where the audience is left to determine whether certain films make the cut to screen at the annual festival. If you have more time to dedicate, you can also intern or volunteer at the festival. RIIFF is driven by interns and volunteers who help out with many aspects of the festival including programming, community outreach, and development/fundraising.
For those interested in submitting to the festival, you can print out a submission form through their website or submit through Withoutabox.com. The regular deadline for submissions is May 15, while June 1 is the late deadline and the extended deadline is June 15. For more information on interning, volunteering or attending any of RIIFF’s upcoming events, be sure to check out their website.