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Global cinema, local flavor

Get ready for the Rhode Island International Film Festival
By TOM MEEK  |  August 8, 2013

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ROCK DREAMS Wilker in 'Death Metal Angola.'

 

The dog days of summer are upon us, which usually means it’s a good time to be inside and soaking up a movie with a cold beverage and a bucket full off popcorn. But since this summer’s blockbuster crop has been a bunch of dogs themselves, it comes as a particular relief that the 17th annual incarnation of the FLICKERS: Rhode Island International Film Festival begins its weeklong run on August 6. The festival, which boasts more than 200 films (shorts, features, and documentaries) from 65 countries, is a celebration of the cinematic arts with a campus feel and a focus on all things Rhode Island.

The RIIFF is distinguished by its affiliation with Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as a venue for qualification for Academy Award consideration. Of the more than 7000 film festivals worldwide, only 75 share this distinction, and RIIFF is the only such festival in New England. In 2012, three shorts that premiered at RIIFF received Academy Award nominations.

Twelve-plus venues, scattered in and around Providence, underscore the communal/festival feel that the RIIFF organizers seek, ranging from the small and quaint (Brown/RISD Hillel, Bell Street Chapel) to larger exhibition halls (the Metcalf Auditorium, the RISD Museum and the Vets).

The festival’s diverse programing includes a LGBTQ segment; a collaborative “festival sidebar” of French language films co-presented with the Quebec Film Festival; the three-day Kids-eye, “a festival within a festival” which offers films and activities for children and families; and the Providence Underground Film Festival, showcasing experimental new voices. There will also be a “Providence Film Location Walking Tour” to illuminate to filmmakers the rich locations the area has to offer and promote Providence as a “backlot.”

FLICKERS, the Newport Film Society & Arts Collaborative, which puts on the RIIFF, is now in its 31st year and works year-round to create a crucible of collaboration between filmmakers and local resources.

The opening night slate will offer a taut list of shorts, most notably Sundae, a romantic drama by longtime festival sensation Joseph Procopio, who debuted his first film at RIFF at the age of nine. He’s now 19 and still at it.

Here are a few best bets:

Forget Us Not | The story of the other five million victims of the Holocaust who were not Jewish but also persecuted by the Aryan Nation for religious beliefs, nationality, physical appearance, and sexual orientation. Heather E. Connell directs this harrowing historical documentary about voices often forgotten.

The Legacy of Claiborne Pell | A documentary about the life of the Rhode Island senator whose legacy became the Pell Grants, which helped enable students of limited means to continue onto institutions of higher education. A world premiere followed by a panel discussion.

Creating Order out of Chaos | An animated shorts package weaving tales of the fantastic.

Torn | Jeremiah Birnbaum’s film looks at a Pakistani immigrant family and a working-class single mother who both lose sons in a mall bombing in suburban California. The two are drawn together in the wake of the tragedy, then the Pakistani son becomes the prime suspect.

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