The Rhode Island International Film Festival ended this past Sunday, August 15after having had over 240 filmmakers registered from 51 different countries and showcased over 200 cinematic works, including 35 World and 23 North American Premieres. These films were chosen from a record of over 4200 international submissions.
The festival kicked off last Tuesday with an exciting night of outstanding short films. RIIFF’s opening night short films have become a massive draw since the festival achieved accreditation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as an Oscar-qualifiying festival in the Short Film category.
This year’s top prizes went to the French short, Tout Ma Vie, directed by Pierre Ferriere, Norman, a feature directed by Jonathon Segal and the documentary Afghanistan: Defying Silence directed by Stacia Teele and Ed Robbins. Two films tied for Best Short Documentary: Jennifer Stoddart’s One Thousand Pictures: RFK’s Last Journey and Travis Senger’s White Lines and the Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug. The winner of Best Short Film is now eligible to receive an Academy Award nomination for the 2010-2011 season. The festival also presented a Creative Vision Award to comedic actor, Jonathan Katz, and screened his recent hilarious animated short, “Death Row Diet.” A full list of awards can be found on RIIFF’s website.
Films were shown mostly in Providence with some programs also being held in Newport. One of RIIFF’s many goals is to promote Rhode Island’s community of artists and filmmakers, therefore, there was an outdoor merchant fair featuring many artisans from the New England area and an H.P. Lovecraft Walking Tour highlighting some of the local areas mentioned in the well-known fantasy and horror author’s books.
RIIFF also held its annual ScriptBiz Workshop program for aspiring screenwriters. Writer/director Chris Sparling, author of Crazy Heart, Thomas Cobb, and Emmy Award winning director, screenwriter, producer and distributor, Michael Sergio participated in this year’s topic of “Make Your Own Success As a Writer.” Between Takes Coffee Talks, RIIFF’s morning gatherings for filmmakers were also well attended and informed many of the new forms of distribution, the process of making a personal documentary and the tricks of working with a RED camera.
Highlights of the film festival include locally made Sleather, which had a huge turnout. The film’s premiere filled most of the 1,900 seat theater at the VMA Arts and won the Audience Award Grand Prize. Waking Sleeping Beauty, a documentary about the turmoil during the 1980s at Disney Animation also played to packed audiences. The film’s writer, Patrick Pacheco, and RIIFF’s Programming Director, Ron Tippe, who had worked at Disney during the time that the film profiled, gave great insight on Roy Disney, Michael Eisner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg as well as what it was like to work at Disney.
Along with the movies playing in the main theatre, many great GLBT films were featured at the Bell Street Chapel, a Unitarian Universalist church. Jewish themed shorts and features were on view at the Brown/RISD Hillel.
For more information on the films screened at the festival and RIIFF’s upcoming horror film festival, make sure to check out their website. If you are interested in learning more about the other festivals in the New England area, check out our festivals page and let us know if there is a festival that you would like profiled.