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.
If you’ve been reading any of our coverage of the FLICKERS: Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), one thing you can gather by now is that RIIFF loves to support its local communities and independent filmmakers. Sleather, is another example of RIIFF supporting its local filmmakers and will enjoy its world premiere this Saturday at 7PM. A comedic adventure for the whole family, Sleather, follows three friends who are determined to make one of the members of their group famous.
A movie made by people from Rhode Island and that takes place in the great Ocean State, Sleather is a triumph in DIY filmmaking and proves that filmmakers do not necessarily have to go to film school to be successful in the entertainment industry. Sleather’s director, Anthony Ambrosino, and writer-producer, Nick Delmenico were gracious enough to sit down with Hollyywood East Connection and tell us how their film that was seven years in the making ended up premiering at one of the top festivals in the United States.
Both Rhode Island natives, Ambrosino and Delmenico are not film school grads and in fact had never worked in the entertainment industry until they decided to make Sleather because it seemed like a fun thing to do. Their naivety ended up helping them in the end because now Ambrosino and Delmenico are full fledged New England filmmakers who have worked on everything from friends’ shorts to blockbuster films.
Armed with lots of humility, Ambrosino and Delmenico enlisted the help of the Rhode Island filmmaking community and learned how to produce on the spot. They traded services with other artists and have insisted that because of all of this help, Sleather is truly a “community made film.” When asked about how receptive the state of Rhode Island was to making Sleather, both agreed that the State Film Office was very cooperative and that communities were excited to see films being made in their state. They also cited the film tax credit as another helpful factor in completing Sleather.
To gain more experience, Ambrosino and Delmenico worked on as many projects as they could because it gave them a better understanding of the filmmaking process. In fact, Ambrosino states that over the years, he has worked in all of the departments to get a better understanding of what goes into making a film. He encourages others to do the same and cites that as an extremely important factor of being a great director.
As for advice for other budding filmmakers, Ambrosino cannot emphasize enough to anyone who is considering making a movie to “just go out and do it.” Just attempting to make a film will make you a better filmmaker. Ambrosino encourages others to have “blind faith in what you try and accomplish” and to “go create” because “eventually you will get what you want.” In fact, he said that all of his lessons on filmmaking have been learned by “screwing up.” Ambrosino also wanted to remind others that “when you’re trying to improve, focus on the negative” because sometimes criticism can be extremely helpful in improving your film or your style.
After their premiere this Saturday, Ambrosino and Delmenico are hoping to find distribution for Sleather and are gearing up to release six short films from other amazing New England filmmakers like Kris Avedisian, Dave Trodella, Mark Fogarty, Nick Beaubien and Eric Weindel.
Make sure to check out the world premiere of Sleather on Saturday, August 14 at 7PM at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, RI. It is a great opportunity to support local filmmakers and meet Ambrosino and Delmenico in person. Tickets can be purchased online or at the theater’s box office. More information on Sleather can be found on the film’s website.
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