If the Rhode Island International Film Festival were a monster movie, it would be something like The Blob That Engulfed Delaware. Like its dozen predecessors, the 13th annual event will be taking over the state. The main event is August 4-9, with 235 films and videos, mainly the 147 shorts but also 17 feature narratives and some longer films among the 71 documentaries. There will be 38 world premieres and 21 US or North American premieres. Screenings will be in a dozen locations in Providence, from the Cable Car Cinema to the Bell Street Chapel to hotels, plus sites in Woonsocket, Narragansett, and West Kingston.
Components are its nearly two dozen "sidebars," mini-festivals, such as the Providence Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, the Providence Jewish Film Festival, the Providence Underground Film Festival, the Flickers' Japanese Film Festival, the Jubilé Franco Américain (films from French Speaking Canada), the KidsEye International Film Festival, and the Vortex Sci Fi & Fantasy Film Festival. There are various discount rates, but most tickets are $10, with the opening night screening $20, for "Salute to the Art of the Short Film."
RIIFF, sponsored by the Phoenix among other organizations, is particularly proud of its shorts selections, being the only festival in New England whose films qualify for the Short Film Academy Award through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
A highlight this year will be the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award presented to actor Ernest Borgnine, following the August 7 premiere screening of Another Harvest Moon, his 199th film.
But wait, there's more. Don't forget the 10th annual RIIFF Horror Film Festival coming up (October 22-25), especially if you missed the RIIFF Roving Eye Documentary Film Festival that was held April 26-28.
Want to rest your eyes and exercise your listening skills, maybe ask a few questions about filmmaking? Then check out the two-day Rhode Island Film Forum (August 7 and 8), at which actor Dan Butler will be giving the keynote speech. Designed for both filmmakers and those dealing with them, such as city and town location coordinators, the how-to sessions cover such subjects as filming union or non-union, financing a film project, and how to provide the resources that filmmakers need.
If all that inspires you to put your fingertips to keyboard and bang out a movie idea of your own, there's ScriptBiz, a workshop on August 3 that covers both the creative and the business side of the film industry.
But the bottom line is the films themselves, of course. RIIFF has gained a reputation as a filmmaker-oriented festival, but it certainly is filmgoer-friendly as well, founded as it was by George T. Marshall, who started it as Flickers, the film-fan series in Newport. Unlike some other film festivals that just check out what's been popular at previous fests here and there, RIIFF selects exclusively from submissions — this year more than 3300 from 57 countries. See for yourself. You can sample more than two dozen trailers at film-festival.org.