On Wednesday June 8, “Today” host and East Providence, RI native, Meredith Vieria held her last show on the famed morning program. Vieria announced last moth that she would leave the program, but remain at NBC in an as-of-yet, undisclosed role.
When Katie Couric left “Today” in 2006, Vieira stepped into the role, alongside Matt Lauer. During her five-year run on the show, Vieira has reported on such events as both the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics and Barack Obama’s election and inauguration.
Vieria has strong New England roots. Born and raised in East Providence, Rhode Island, she graduated from the Lincoln School, an all-girls Quaker school in Providence. Vieira eventually graduated magna cum laude with an English degree from Tufts University and started her journalism career as a radio news announcer in Worcester, MA and then a local TV reporter and anchor in Providence.
Vieira has stated she is leaving the show to spend more time with her family, which includes her husband, journalist Richard M. Cohen, their three children and dog, Jasper.
Whole Foods Market is not normally synonymous with film, but this April the food retailer’s “Do Something Reel” film festival spans seventy cities and features six films about making a difference in our world. You can check for screenings at the festival’s site, as well as read synopses and view trailers of all the films.
Planeat, a documentary examining Western culture’s obsession with meat and dairy, is screening at Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre this Monday, April 25. The following evening, Bag It, a film chronicling America’s dependence on plastic, is showing at Coolidge Corner. The last showing in Brookline is Wednesday, April 27. The festival concludes with Urban Roots, the story of “urban farmers” in Detroit struggling to find locally grown foods in an environment full of processed foods. All showings at Coolidge Corner Theater are at 7:30 PM and cost $9.
Urban Roots will also be showing Wednesday night at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Tickets at Hope Artiste Village are free and a Wintertime Farmer’s Market will be held before the 7:30 PM screening.
Rhode Island’s boys are back. The Farrelly Brothers‘ latest film, Hall Pass topped the box office last week, grossing $13,535,374 in its first weekend. The film upset predicted box office topper, Gnomeo and Juliet, putting the Farrelly directed comedy in first.
Hall Pass, starring Owen Wilson and “Saturday Night Live’s” Jason Sudekis as two men granted a week off from their marriages by their wives, is Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s first film since 2007′s Heartbreak Kid. The film boasts other big names like Christina Applegate and “The Office” star Jenna Fischer as the men’s restless wives, as well as appearances by Joy Behar and Alyssa Milano.
Like most of the brothers’ films, Hall Pass is set in New England, although it was shot in Georgia. The Rhode Island natvies’ next film is a Three Stooges reboot, rumored to star Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio del Toro as the goofy trio.
Two local Rhode Island boys, Brett Leigh and Michael West, who certainly aren’t new to the biz just wrapped up their first 90 minute mockumentary, Festival the movie. This is Leigh’s directorial debut.
The feature comedy begins in a small town office, located somewhere in America where they decide to put on their first film festival. “The script is based on of real people that both Brett and Mike have met,” Rachel Violanto, the publicist tells HEC. “The scenes are loosely based off of shorts, features, and other films that the directors have seen as well. The scenarios are either scripted or also based off of events.”
This office doesn’t lack in personality for sure and decides to make a documentary of their first annual film festival and the top five winners of the fest. Through some swindling, the office convinces Margaret, an “unbeknownst and inexperienced web designer” to be the face of the documentary and travel across the coast interviewing the people behind the submissions.
“Festival is not only about film festivals but a festival of characters. It brings you on journey to meet people of all walks of life that come together through one medium: film,” the Festival Team shares.
Not only is the flick’s talent comprised of mostly New Englanders, “The filming took place primarily in New England,” the Festival Team tells us. “Rhode Island served as our main filming grounds. All locations were film friendly and Rhode Island serves as a wonderful backdrop for many different scenes. The diversity of Newport, Providence, and Cranston helped the film makers create locations that look like different states in America. This was incredibly useful saving time and money,” the Festival team adds.
The movie idea came about when Leigh was in Europe attending a film festival. At this particular fest, Brett Leigh was celebrating a world premiere of a film in which he starred in. After meeting a lot of different artistic and creative people while learning the ins and outs of a film festival, he thought “Why has no one made a movie about this?” When Brett returned to the states, he met with Mike West and they started pre-production.
Today, Festival is currently at a world premiere status. The producers are waiting to hear back from film festivals that are interested in the film. Because of this, Festival can’t premiere until early spring. And we can’t wait! “If you have ever made a film, worked or attended a festival, or love movie history, this film is for you! Also, veteran composer, Sean Hathaway has created an original score that upholds the films integrity and is wonderful to listen to,” the Festival team shares.
“The cast and crew excite everyone who watches the film. The cast is extremely witty and versatile, never afraid to do anything the directors asked and always on target with interpretation of the script,” the Festival team tells us. “The crew was also essential. Because it was an indie film, the crew was much smaller than the cast. But with the help of Barbara Newman, Seamus Donahoe, Amber Tharp, and Bryce Dion this film came together,” the team adds.
Stay in contact with Festival the movie on FB, Twitter and the dot com where you can find out all about the hot cast and crew and other cool features they have on the site. And watch the trailer below, it’s wildly funny!
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.
With the first event being held in Rhode Island, the success of the national 7DayPSA competition has found a new home at The Maine Studios in Portland, ME. Taking place this May, entrants can be anyone who is interested in video. It doesn’t matter if they are students, journalists, producers or filmmakers – it’s an excellent way for those breaking into the field to get their name out.
Just like in Rhode Island – where a New Hampshire resident won an award – the teams of filmmakers will be given their information packets between May 13th and May 15th, with only seven days to create their Public Service Announcements (also known as PSAs) for a local charity. Within that tight time frame the groups, called “Agencies,” will have to write, shoot and edit their videos.
The Maine Film Collaborative is hosting the Portland competition at The Maine Studios, and one local charity is chosen for every four of the Agencies that register to participate. Each of the charities will have been selected by a committee provided by the organization’s host. The names of the charities will only be announced after all of the Agencies have begun filming. When the Public Service Announcements have been completed at the end of those seven days, they will be judged for quality, there will be an awards ceremony, and some will have the potential to be submitted for national recognition. We’re talking possible Emmy or Telly awards here. The television stations WCSH-6 and Fox Maine News 23 are some of the sponsors for the event, and both stations have agreed to air the winning entries.
Following the success of the event in Rhode Island, Maine is only one of a number of states to have this competition. “I am very excited to see what the teams from Maine can put together for this amazing project,” says Krystal Kenville, local competition organizer. “We’re hoping this expands to more venues. Competitions in Boston, as well as New Hampshire and Connecticut are in the works.”
Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to benefit a charity and get your name out there by producing a great Public Service Announcement. Anyone with a passion and an interest who’s willing to put in the work has the potential to make something fantastic. “We are encouraging everyone including student filmmakers, producers, and filmmakers to get involved with this amazing project. I am so impressed from what I have seen at the Rhode Island 7DayPSA awards, that I know we can make Maine’s just as wonderful!” Kenville told us.
Just in time to make their way into everybody’s Easter baskets, newly released on DVD this month, Hachiko: A Dog’s Story, starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen. The heartwarming film follows a chance encounter between a college professor and an Akito puppy at a train station. The professor adopts the pup, and form an everlasting bond that surpasses even death. Based on the true story of a dog and his owner in Japan, the canine reached legendary status when Hachiko continued to meet the train his master would arrive on everyday for years after he passed away.
While the story’s roots are grounded in the foreign lands of Japan, the movie was actually filmed in Rhode Island in the winter of 2008, including the towns of Bristol, Woonsocket, Kingston, and Providence. A few scenes were in fact shot on location in Japan. The film was released in Japan in August of 2009, and had a showing at the Seattle International Film Festival last June. Sony Pictures Entertainment decided against a stateside theatrical release, however, and was instead released on DVD on March 9, 2010.
A new television pilot for ABC is set to start filming in Rhode Island this month, according to the R.I. Film and TV Office. Starring Dana Delany, “Body of Evidence” will follow the story of a former neurosurgeon turned medical examiner who uses her knowledge to help solve crimes, while often stepping on the toes (and even butting heads) with other the authorities involved in the investigations. Christopher Murphey, who also serves as co-executive producer with Matt Gross, is the writer of the series, while Gross originated the idea.
Providence is only one of a number of cities across the state that will be utilized for filming locations. Shooting is expected to last through early April, as network fall line-ups are announced in mid-May. At that time, ABC will determine whether or not they would like to launch the pilot as a series, though it is possible that it could be picked up for less than a full season from the offset. If the show is successful it could mean hundreds of jobs for the Rhode Island area.
Delany is a TV veteran, having made appearances on such notable series as “Moonlighting”, “thirtysomething”, “Magnum, P.I.”, and “Boston Legal”. She is perhaps most well known for her role on the 80s series, “China Beach” and was most recently on another ABC hit, “Desperate Housewives”. Her “Body of Evidence” costars will include Jeri Ryan, of “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Boston Public” fame.
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 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.
This past June, at the Seattle International Film Festival, a new Richard Gere movie debuted, set to land in US theaters nationwide this December. The movie, entitled Hachi, is based on a Japanese film from 1987. The story, which is set in 1924, is about a dog who is so loyal to his master, a professor, that he waits for him to arrive at a train station, not realizing that he suffered a stroke and died. The dog returns to the train station every day for 10 years in hopes of seeing his departed friend, whom he had accompanied every day to the train station for years, until he himself also passes on.
The true story which inspired the film is often told among the Japanese people, and the train station where Hachiko died features a statue of him in tribute. Despite the Japanese basis and setting for the story, the film was actually made in Rhode Island. Locations included Edwards Hall at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, tracks on the Providence and Worcester Railroad, the Columbus Theatre Arts Center in Providence, Bristol, and Woonsocket. The movie also costars Joan Allen and Jason Alexander and is being released in Japan this month.
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