Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Rhode Island International Film Festival (August 8-13) has developed quite a reputation as a particularly filmmaker-friendly festival. Chris Gore, author of The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, three years ago stated that “the RIIFF provides the kind of intimate festival experience that will change your life” and to rate it one of the top 10 short-film festivals in the country.
“The issue for us has been growth, how you manage growth and deal with people in a fair, equitable fashion,” said George T. Marshall, the festival’s founder and executive director. “We had more than 500 extra films [submitted] this year.”
Ten years after it began, RIIFF is all over the place. Nine venues from Woonsocket to Westerly make it the statewide event its name suggests rather than strictly Providence-centric.
Crowds totaling more than 21,000 came last year, and 2006 is likely to draw at least as many film lovers to the festival that has the highest attendance in New England.
Screenings will take place in Cranston, Newport, Bristol, Barrington, and Kingston, as well as Providence. Most tickets are $10, excluding those for special events. (For details about all films and activities, go to www.RIFilmFest.org.)
The opening night gala will present 10 short films, including three animations, that salute the festival’s connection with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Eleven RIFF premieres have received Oscar nominations, and three have won. The film festival is the only one in the country eligible for both Oscar and Grammy award consideration.
The RIIFF week will include programs organized around specific themes and focuses, such as the Providence Film Festival, the Providence Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, the Providence Jewish Film Festival, and the World Panorama Festival of International Films. Also, the New England Student Film Festival will take place August 12, and the Jubilé Franco-Americain will be held throughout the week, with films from Canada and France. RIFF’s RI Horror Film Festival will be held October 5-8. In July the Japanese Film Festival took place during the Black Ships Festival in Newport.
In opening night ceremonies, Rhode Island filmmaker Michael Corrente will receive the festival’s annual Creative Vision Award. The RIIFF Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to actress Cicely Tyson, whose latest film, Fat Rose & Squeaky, will have its world premiere during the festival.
In addition to the current doings, the RIIFF held the Roving Eye Documentary Film Festival in April, premiering 25 films, and has been presenting the Stars Under the Stars outdoor screenings in downtown Providence.
For those interested in the film industry, the festival is offering a Breakfast with the Stars series of discussions, plus three workshops on filmmaking. ScriptBiz, a day-long workshop on screenwriting, will be held August 7. KidsEye, the annual summer camp for young filmmakers, is held each July, as is the Japanese Film Festival, co-sponsored by RIIFF.