Fans of aristocracy and Newport, Rhode Island history can now rejoice as the critically acclaimed documentary Behind the Hedgerow: Eileen Slocum and the Meaning of Newport Society makes its broadcast debut at 8PM this Wednesday, April 6, 2011, on WSBE/Rhode Island PBS.
The feature length film tells the history of aristocratic Newport through the focus of one of Newport’s last grand dames, Eileen Gillespie Slocum. You can expect the documentary, which was last year’s opening night feature at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, to cover not only Slocum’s long life and stature, but the Gilded Age when the Vanderbilts and Astors reigned.
Director David Bettencourt and producer/writer G. Wayne Miller had unprecedented access to Slocum’s extensive personal archive of photographs, books, belongings and papers – notably the diaries she kept for sixty years to tell Slocum’s story. Rare footage and still photographs from a multitude of sources and on-camera interviews of people in Eileen Slocum’s set and Slocum’s family help give this documentary a complete picture of life as a New England aristocrat.
Behind the Hedgerow is the second title from Eagle Peak Media, the production company founded in 2008 by the film’s writer and director. The company’s first documentary, On the Lake, was nominated for an Emmy by the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and has been broadcast in PBS markets across America.
You can now buy the director’s cut DVD with bonus footage of Behind the Hedgerow online or at gift shops of The Preservation Society of Newport County, which operates The Breakers, Marble House and other Newport mansions and sites. Details on other air dates for Behind the Hedgerow can be found on PBS. To learn more about Behind the Hedgerow or Eagle Peak Media, make sure to check out their website.
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.
The Eagle Peak Media production company is hosting a free screening this Thursday that will feature a teaser-trailer on their new exclusive documentary, Behind the Hedgerow: Eileen Slocum and the Meaning of Newport Society.
The documentary is a look into the private world of the aristocracy of the gilded age, with a significant part of it dedicated to relating the story of the late Eileen Gillespie Slocum, who died in 2008. With exclusive access to Slocum’s numerous archives, director David Bettencourt and writer/producer G. Wayne Miller use 20th century footage and photographs in compilation with modern images to re-tell the story of a dying age ruled by Vanderbilts and Astors. The film will be released in the summer of next year, followed by national broadcasts on PBS.
In addition to the Behind the Hedgerow trailer, Eagle Peak Media will show On The Lake: Life and Love in a Distant Place, which was featured in the 2009 Rhode Island International Film Festival, for the first time in the first time in Newport. On The Lake is a feature-length documentary about the tuberculosis epidemic that affected America in the early 1900s as well as its impact on the world today. The film, which was written and directed by the same filmmakers of Behind the Hedgerow, was nationally broadcast on PBS earlier this year, where it earned critical acclaims.
The event will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 13, at the Redwood Library and Athenaeum at 50 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. It will include a discussion with Bettencourt and Miller and will be attended by the family of the late Slocum. The event is free and open to the public.
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