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By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  July 31, 2007
PRESERVATION SOCIETY: A scene from Old House Soul.

"Cinemania: The 11th annual Rhode Island International Film Festival." By Bill Rodriguez.
Local documentary filmmakers are busy at work this year, with RIIFF screenings on subjects as diverse as Lyme disease and literary writer Andre Dubus.
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, directed by South Kingstown filmmaker Andrew D. Cooke, makes the case for Eisner being the godfather of the American comic book, since he inspired many other artists through stretching the boundaries of visual storytelling and devising fresh methods of production and publishing. The film presents interview footage with Eisner, who died in 2005, as well as interviews with comic book and graphic novel artists whom he influenced. Columbus Theatre | August 8 | 2:30 pm
The Times Were Never So Bad: The Life of Andre Dubus, directed by Edward J. Delaney, is about a writer whose stories have been made into films such as Meditations from a Movable Chair and We Don’t Live Here Anymore. His freewheeling life included nearly shooting a man in a drunken bar fight and suffering years of recovery after an auto accident, which caused him to re-examine his life and writings. Director Delaney, a short story writer himself, is a professor of communications at Roger Williams University. World premiere. URI Providence campus | August 11 | 2 pm
Three documentary works-in-progress by local filmmakers will be screened along with the Dubus film on Saturday, August 11 at 2 pm.
Red Terror On the Amber Coast, directed by Kenneth Gumbert, is an account of Stalin’s 1939-’40 rise to power in a country where, according to a recent survey, most still consider him to be the heroic founder of modern-day Russia. The film focuses on the struggle of Lithuanians to remain independent and includes interviews with former resistance fighters and laborers forced to work in the mines and forests of Siberia. Gumbert heads the filmmaking program at Providence College.
Hidden In the Leaves, directed by Mary Healey Jamiel, takes a look at the work of URI scientist Tom Mather and his research team’s work on preventing Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Mather will be on hand after the screening to answer questions. Holy-Water Gate, Jamiel’s documentary about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, also will be screened at the festival. It won the Best Documentary award at the 2005 RIIFF.
Old House Soul, directed by Don Manley and Michel Schtakleff, centers on Rhode Island architectural preservationist Steve Tyson, an advocate of adaptive reuse who cautions against abuses of thoughtless urban renewal. (A seven-minute clip is on ifilm and youtube.) In addition to making videos, Manley is a graphic artist and Schtakleff is a multi-media artist and playwright.

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