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Cinemania

The 11th annual Rhode Island International Film Festival
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  July 31, 2007
"Eyes on the Ocean State: Spotlight on local documentaries." By Bill Rodriguez.
It may be in Little Rhody, but the 11th Annual Rhode Island International Film Festival (August 7 through 12) is the biggest film festival in New England, with 321 films chosen from 2491 submissions from more than 70 countries and 34 states.
 
Most are shorts, but 41 are narrative features and 11 are documentary features. They include previously released films such as Cherry Arnold’s Buddy and the documentary Italian Americans and Federal Hill by Jonathan D. Raben. But there are 140 world premieres and 32 US premieres, including opening night directorial debuts by actors Ursula Burton, Jennifer Aniston, Joseph Mazzello, and Bryce Dallas Howard (more than filmmakers are expected to attend the festival).
 
The four debuts will be screened on opening night at 7 pm at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $15 to $10 for other screenings and $35 for a post-premiere party in the theater lobby. Tickets to the pre-opening reception are $100.
 
Celebrating the “Art of the Short Film,” the four films on the kickoff evening will include the world premiere of Happiest Day of His Life, by Ursula Burton (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood). Humorously challenging gender roles, her film depicts a traditional wedding juxtaposed with scenes from classic Hollywood movies such as Father of the Bride. The cast includes Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, and Louise Fletcher.
 
Jennifer Aniston’s entry, starring Robin Wright Penn and Kris Kristofferson, is Room 10. It tells the story of Frannie, a veteran nurse hardened by her experiences until events force her to reassess her choices.
 
Bryce Dallas Howard’s Orchids depicts an unexpected love growing between a reticent amateur photographer and an eccentric middle-aged man whose classified ad she answers. It stars Alfred Molina and Katherine Waterston.
 
The fourth film was written and directed by Joseph Mazello, a child actor in Simon Birch and Jurassic Park. Matters of Life and Death examines the impact of 9/11 on one family, portrayed by David Strathairn, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Mazzello.
 
Venues in Providence include the Columbus, the Cable Car, the IMAX and Showcase at Providence Place, the Providence Public Library, and Providence Black Repertory Company. Outside of Providence, a few films will be shown at the Old Slater Mill Museum in Pawtucket, the Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston, and the Shorebreak theater in Narragansett.
 
Free weekly forums will be taking place on Tuesdays at 7 pm at Borders at Providence Place, with such topics as “Making a Film With a New England Flavor” (August 14).
 
For details about the festival, go to www.film-festival.org.
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