By George T. Marshall, RIIFF Executive
Most people have no idea how long it takes
to plan and run an artistic event; whether it’s
a concert, stage play or even a film festival. It’s
not a cakewalk.
Filmmakers can definitely appreciate the work it takes
as running a film festival actually is a year round
proposition. The Rhode Island International Film Festival
(RIIFF), for which I play a bit of a role in developing,
began receiving entries within the first month after
the 2005 festival ended. As of this writing, the entries
total more than 1,800 and are expected to close at or
Entries have come
from all over the world: Finland, Iceland, South Africa,
New Zealand, Italy, Vietnam, Russia, and even Siberia.
This actually translates to 62 countries and 34 states
in the continental US. RIIFF is unique among fests in
New England in that about 90% of the event is made up
from these entries; and not culled from other festivals.
The balance of the festival comes from either films
that are curated, or from industry professionals who
contact our offices.
I like to say it began as a dream: to create in Rhode
Island an event that for the first time underscored
film as an art form. The first discussions began in
1994 and took place all over the state with arts and
business leaders to make this dream a reality. By 1996,
the first prototype was ready to launch - a series of
films from the archives of the Quebec Consulate General-Boston
and the former Union Saint Jean Baptiste. The location
was humble: the Woonsocket Library and two senior hi-rises.
It proved an exceptional test run and laid the foundation
for what was to come. In 1997, the Stadium Theatre Foundation
secured rights to acquire Woonsocket’s faded and
long-closed movie palace. After being approached by
former Mayor Francis Lanctot, the decision was made
to officially launch the Rhode Island International
Film Festival at the Stadium. The Festival was tied
to the Jubilé Franco Américain, an award-winning
cultural event that showcased the best of Franco-American
culture. The first Rhode Island International Film Festival
It is now ten years later and RIIFF has become one of
the leading film festivals in the United States. It
is also widely recognized as New England’s largest
annual film event. Out of over 2,500 film festivals
worldwide, RIIFF is one of only 47 that has an award
affiliation with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences (the Oscars). In nine years, 11 films that
had their premiere at the festival have been nominated
for Academy Awards and four have won. RIIFF is also
the only film festival in the United States that nominates
music score and composers for the National Academy of
Recording Arts and Sciences (aka - the Grammys). It
has been listed as one of the “Top 12 Film Festivals”
in the US by Travel Smart; cited as one of the “Best
Short and International Film Festivals,” by film
guru, Chris Gore; and called one of the “Top 20
Film Festivals Worth the Submission,” by Moviemaker
magazine - RIIFF has a solid international reputation
which could explain the record number of submissions.
In short, the Rhode Island International Film Festival
has become a world-class event.
This year’s Rhode Island International Film Festival™,
(RIIFF) will take place August 8-13, 2006. It features
screenings, filmmaking workshops, meet-and-greet industry
events and seminars.
Aiming to promote
Rhode Island as a filmmaking location and to celebrate
the independent filmmaking spirit, RIIFF also hosts
a number of high-profile premières and provides
a showcase for international features, documentaries,
and shorts. It accepts films of any type, in any genres.
Rhode Island native
Bobby Farrelly was so impressed with the festival's
debut that he held the world premiere of his next film
- There's Something About Mary - at the 1998 event.
But that’s another story for another article.
The festival is dedicated to the creation of opportunities
for "artistic interaction and exchange among independent
filmmakers, directors, producers, distributors, backers
and the film-going community". It is a safe haven
for all independent filmmakers - a place where they
can hide from all the MI3’s, overblown CGI effects
and high concept reinterpretations of classic films.
In 2005, RIIFF screened over 272 titles in six days
to appreciative crowds of over 21,000 people; rather
impressive numbers for any event; and there were eight
sell-outs. RIIFF showcased 45 World Premieres and 38
United States Premieres.
Plans for the Festival constantly evolve throughout
the year; then get locked in place by late June. This
allows for a bit more than a month to market the event
and additionally filmmakers have enough time to plan
their schedules to attend. Given past records, this
normally translates to over 200 filmmakers attending,
along with cast and crew.
For its Tenth Anniversary, the staff and Board of the
Festival wanted to do something special. This included
the introduction of new programming to build anticipation
for the main event in August. The “Roving Eye
Documentary Film Festival” was launched in April,
screening 25 films. These screenings were presented
across Rhode Island and were free to the general public.
What they illustrated was a clear demand and appreciative
audience for the films. Year-round screenings are now
being planned based on the success of the event. RIIFF
also created the “Vortex Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Film Festival” with plans for a launch in early
And there is more. Much more.
RIIFF PROGRAMMING BY THE NUMBER:
• “Stars Under the Stars,” outdoor
screenings in downtown Providence at the Bank of America
Skating Rink; running July through August and presented
in collaboration with Providence’s acclaimed “Waterfire.”
• RIIFF will once again be honoring outstanding
filmmaking artists. Awards to be given at this year's
festival include: RIIFF HUMANITARIAN, CREATIVE VISION,
CRYSTAL IMAGE, LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT. Past recipients
include Kim Chan, Seymour Cassell, Blake Edwards, Patricia
Neal, Rosa von Praunheim, Elaine Lorillard, Michael
Showalter, Zach Braff, and Danny Trejo. (This year,
RIIFF will be giving two Lifetime Achievement Awards
to well-known industry legends.) Past attendees of the
festival include: Stephen Collins, Julie Andrews, Andrew
McCarthy, Billy Gilman, Steve Buscemi and the above
• 10th anniversary retrospectives featuring works
by Stu Pollard, Richard Schenkman, Eva Saks, Bo Mehrad
and Q. Allan Brocka; long-term RIIFF participants.
• Festival Partnership Screenings that showcase
films from New Zealand with DocNZ International and
the Pan-American Film Festival from Canada.
• Expansion of statewide screening locations:
Westerly (Westerly Public Library, Revival House Cinema),
Kingston (Courthouse Center for the Arts), Jamestown,
Newport (Jane Pickens Theater, Redwood Library), Bristol,
Barrington, (Barrington Public Library), Cranston (Black
Box Theater) & Pawtucket.
• Expanded Providence screening locations: Columbus
Theatre Arts Center, Cable Car Cinema, URI Feinstein
Campus Theatre, Providence Chamber of Commerce Theatre,
Feinstein IMAX, and the Bank of America Skating Rink.
• “DOUBLEFEATURE” a unique program
that combines live music with visual montages from classic
films. Local performers include Nancy Nicholson, piano
and Kara Lund, soprano.
• “Breakfast with the Stars;” a unique
power breakfast with visiting filmmakers and their cast
members providing audience members an up-close and personal
experience. This special program offers intimate gatherings
with industry professionals as they discuss behind-the-scenes
aspects of filmmaking. It all begins on Wednesday August
9th and runs consecutive mornings (starting daily at
9:30 am) through Saturday, August 11th. The price of
admission includes a continental or hot breakfast. Series
• The Opening Night Screening will be a collection
of short films representing different genres as a salute
to RIIFF’s affiliation with the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences.
• Salute to Rhode Island filmmaker, Michael Corrente
(Federal Hill, Outside Providence, American Buffalo)
with a retrospective of his work.
• Number of films to be screened: approximately
225 individual titles over six days.
• The 10th Anniversary Producers Awards to take
place July 20th saluting individuals and sponsors who
supported RIIFF over its first 10 years and made a difference
in its growth and evolution. They include: Hon. Lincoln
Almond, Former Governor, State of Rhode Island; Jon
& Betty Jane Berberian, Columbus Theatre Arts Center;
Bob Billington, Blackstone Valley Tourism Council; Eric
Bilodeau, Cable Car Cinema; Winifred Brownell, Dean
of Arts & Sciences, University of Rhode Island;
Louise Champigny, USJB/Catholic Family Life; Lisa Churchville,
CEO/President, NBC10; Hon. David Cicilline, Mayor of
Providence; Michel Coutu, President/CEO, Brooks Pharmacy;
Mark & Lynnette Daponte, Mirage Design; Michael
F. Drywa, Jr., Esq., Legal Counsel; Dr. and Mrs. Gerald
Lamoureux, Jubilé Franco-Américain; Hon.
Francis Lanctor, Former Mayor, City of Woonsocket; Michele
Palmieri Maker & Tim Gaulin, Clear Channel Communications;
Don Manley, Wiggleroom Design; John Palumbo, RI Monthly;
John Rule, Rule Broadcasting; Jim Vickers, Motif Magazine;
Cliff Wood & Lynne McCormack, Providence Department
of Arts, Culture & Tourism.
• A live performance by the Alloy Orchestra accompanying
the newly restored print of the 1926 swashbuckler, "The
Eagle" featuring Rudolph Valentino; to be presented
by the City of Providence and NBC 10.
• ScriptBiz™ Scriptwriting & Pitch Seminar,
an annual RIIFF event, 8/7
• Three “Between Takes Afternoon Industry
• The Festival runs a number of sidebars, these
include the KidsEye™ International Film Festival,
expanded to four morning screenings; the New England
Student Film Festival; the Providence Gay & Lesbian
Film Festival, the Providence Film Festival, providing
a focus on local & regional filmmakers; The World
Panorama Festival of International Films; the Providence
Jewish Film Festival; and The Jubilé Franco-Americain,
focusing on films from Canada and France
RIIFF continues its efforts to make local audiences
aware of all the positive changes that have taken place
at the Columbus Theatre over the past several years.
RIIFF created the “Friends of the Columbus Theatre
Arts Center,” (this functions through the non-profit
arm of the Flickers Arts Collaborative, which produces
RIIFF), and is designed to raise needed grant funding
Since RIIFF has been at the Columbus, the theater has
blossomed into a neighborhood arts center. RIIFF has
played an important role in its transformation and will
continue to support the renovation of this beautiful
and unique cultural jewel. Please note that to date
RIIFF and its “Friends of the Columbus Theatre
Arts Center” have donated approximately $50,000
for improvements at the theater: from upgrading the
sound, projection and lighting systems, providing and
installing seating in the balcony, installing 35mm equipment
in the second floor Cinemathéque; restoring the
appearance of the second floor dance studio, to putting
rugs down in the upstairs lobby and even light bulbs
on the marquee.
SOME TITLES ALREADY SELECTED FOR SCREENING:
So what will be playing at the Festival? Here’s
a sampling; but it’s only a snapshot of all the
films that will be shown. Read on:
THE LITTLE MATCHGIRL (animation)
EAST COAST PREMIERE
Director Roger Allers, Walt Disney Animation
Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale about a
poor young girl whose burning desire to find comfort
and happiness comes to life through the magic of rich
hand-drawn Disney animation in this powerful and inventive
short film directed by Roger Allers (“The Lion
King”). Desperate to keep warm, the girl lights
the matches she sells, and envisions a very different
life for herself in the fiery flames filled with images
of loving relatives, bountiful food, and a place to
call home. Set to the music of composer Alexander Borodin’s
String Quartet No. 2 in D Major (Third Movement: Noturno
(Andante), in an exciting new recording by the six-time
Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet, the film
tells a captivating and emotional tale.
Director Jay Craven
"Disappearances" is a Prohibition-era whiskey-running
adventure, comedy and drama, based on the award-winning
novel by Howard Frank Mosher. It tells the story of
Quebec Bill Bonhomme, a hardy schemer and dreamer, who,
desperate to raise money to preserve his endangered
herd through an unusually long winter, resorts to whiskey-smuggling,
a traditional family occupation. Quebec Bill takes his
son, Wild Bill, on the journey. Also, Henry Coville,
an inscrutable whiskey smuggler and Rat Kinneson, Quebec
Bill's perpetually disconsolate hired man. Together,
they cross the border into vast reaches of Canadian
wilderness for an unforgettable four days 'full of terror,
full of wonder.'
BOY CULTURE, (Feature)
Director Q. Allan Brocka
X marks the spot where body, mind and heart meet in
Boy Culture, Q. Allan Brocka's bold, sexy and intelligent
follow-up to “Eating Out” (an audience favorite
at the RIIFF 2004 Festival).
A tale of lust and liberation among Seattle's young
and hip queer set, the film focuses on a trio of sexy
roommates headed by X (Derek Magyar), a high-end escort
who keeps his client list trimmed to a manageable 12
well-off gentlemen. He is a 'hooker with morals' who
has never had a sexual relationship without being financially
compensated for it.
Based on Matthew Rettenmund's critically acclaimed novel
of the same title, “Boy Culture” is a bold
step forward for Brocka (who is also a RIIFF Board member!)
and a refreshingly honest and insightful examination
of the process of breaking down the walls we build around
us so we can take the leap of faith that love demands.
Director Tim Disney, United Kingdom
( North American Premiere)
Featuring Paul Guilfoyle (LA Confidential, Crime Scene
Investigation), Rutger Hauer (Confessions of a Dangerous
Mind, Blade Runner), Malcolm McDowell (Hidalgo, I'll
Sleep When I'm Dead)
American art appraiser, Patrick Donovan, is sent to
Venice to authenticate three classical paintings belonging
to the famous Galleria dell’Accademia. Arriving
during heavy rains, he finds the Galleria besieged by
floods and closed to the public. With the floodwaters
rapidly rising, he examines two Bellinis and confirms
that they are indeed authentic but before he can get
to Giorgione’s The Tempest it is stolen. Police
and media interest is high and Donovan unwittingly finds
himself at the center of the investigation.
What follows is a highly stylized and complex web of
mystery, intrigue and betrayal which unfolds against
the ghostly backdrop of the Venetian waterways. Donovan
determines to uncover the truth behind the disappearing
painting but soon finds himself at the mercy of a corrupt
art collector, a petty thief and, ultimately, a deadly
FLYING DOWNHILL: BODE MILLER (Feature
Director W.C. Rogers, USA
Bode Miller is among the world's fastest skiers and
is arguably the very best American to hit the slopes
and a challenge to the great legends of the sport. His
style is wild and untamed, as was his childhood on a
450-acre homestead near Fanconia, New Hampshire. This
film chronicles Miller's meteoric rise in the realm
of the Alpine ski race – a path beset with major
injuries and alternative training methods – en
route to the top of World Championship and Olympic competition.
A LIFE AMONG WHALES (Feature Doc)
Director Bill Haney, U S A, Netherlands
Weaving together natural history and biography, 'A Life
Among Whales' is a fascinating exploration into the
life and work of whale biologist and activist Roger
Payne. Payne’s controversial discovery in the
early 1970s that whales sing “songs” helped
ignite the modern day environmental movement. His pioneering
spirit has consistently advanced the boundaries of science
and activism over the last four decades.
With beautiful and haunting images, 'A Life Among Whales'
follows one scientist’s dedication to saving the
whales and forces us to question our stewardship of
the Earth and our co-existence with some of its most
JOURNEY TO JUSTICE (Feature Doc)
Director Steve Palackdharry, Germany, France, U S A
JOURNEY TO JUSTICE tells the story of Howard Triest,
a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 when he was
16 years old, returned as an American soldier and then
served as an interpreter during the Nuremberg Trial.
He came face-to-face with imprisoned Nazi leaders who
were co-responsible for the death of six million Jews,
including Howard’s parents at Auschwitz. At Nuremberg,
Howard felt transformed, from victim to victor, and
was able to reclaim parts of his German identity. The
documentary also tells the story of how Margot, Howard's
younger sister, was rescued from a detention camp in
southern France just before her parents' deportation.
Margot then saved ten other children from the Nazis
in her subsequent escape to Switzerland.
DUTCH BIRD (Live Action Short)
Director Kirk Weddell, United Kingdom
A touching comedy starring David Kelly (Charlie and
the Chocolate Factory) about an Irish pigeon racer who
gets involved in an international drug trafficking plot.
The story with a twist in its tale looks at ethics and
the nature of friendship.
THE SHOVEL (Live Action Short)
Director Nick Childs, USA
Featuring David Strathairn and Tim Guinee
When weekender Paul Mullin discovers his neighbor digging
a hole in the middle of the night, he writes it off
simply as a bizarre encounter... until the neighbor
and his cheating wife both disappear. Worried he's stumbled
onto more than he bargained for Paul calls on the local
sheriff to help unearth the truth. And finds out that,
in this small town, some secrets are better left buried.
FOSTER (Live Action Short)
Director Jonathan Newman, United Kingdom
(Official Opening Night & North American Premiere)
The film begins as 7 yr old Zachary walks us through
his daily routine. He shows us his room, the foster
home, and talks us through, in a very adult way, the
ins and outs of being a ‘man’. “Everyman,”
he tells us, “must have one nice outfit”.
Simultaneously, a story unravels with an older man,
though at this stage we do not know who this man is.
His daily routine does, indeed, seem to reflect young
Zach’s daily routine. Could this be Zach as an
adult? Or is it the man that will become Zach’s
LITTLE VICTIIM (Live Action Short)
Director Dean Ronalds, USA
Featuring Robert Wagner and Lori Singer
When a suave Howard and his dumb founded girlfriend
Tracy meets Duane and his mother Irene in a Parking
Garage, they have no idea how good the good news is
and the dark surprise Duane and Irene brought back with
them in the trunk.
Intrigued? Then mark your calendar!
The Rhode Island International Film Festival
runs Aug. 8 to 13th; most tickets, other than
special events, are $10. The Festival Web site is www.rifilmfest.org
and the phone is (401) 861-4445. The Festival is based
at the historic Columbus Theatre Arts Center, 270 Broadway,
About the Author:
George T. Marshall is the Producing Director of
the Rhode Island-based Flickers Arts Collaborative,
the creators of the annual Rhode Island International
Film Festival for which he also serves as Executive
Director. He teaches film and communications at Rhode
Island College and speech communications and documentary
film at Roger Williams University. He is a director,
writer, producer of commercials and industrials for
numerous business clients in the region and will be
presenting his current research paper “Teaching
and the Blogosphere” at the Annual Conference
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication (AEJMC) in August. He can be reached at