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Hollywood, RI-style

The 18th Annual Rhode island International Film Festival
By TOM MEEK  |  July 30, 2014

A ROMANTIC 'DREAM' Kasia Smutniak and Dreyfuss in 'Caserta Palace Dream.'

August is upon us and that means the annual FLICKERS: Rhode Island International Film Festival is here. Now in its 18th season, RIIFF begins its run on August 5 and wraps on the 10th. The 2014 edition will premiere more than 240 films (features, shorts and documentaries) from 62 countries and 34 US states. Last year, more than 200 of the filmmakers attended the festival, with points of origin ranging from Cuba to New Zealand to India and the UK.

The popularity of RIIFF with filmmakers stems from its unique relationship with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival for shorts and documentary shorts. Of the more than 7000 film festivals that take place globally, RIIFF is one of only 19 to share such a distinguished dual credential. In its history, RIFF boasts 33 Academy Award nominations and seven wins. In 2013, three films that premiered at RIIFF received Academy Award nominations — pretty impressive for the smallest state on the opposite seaboard from Hollywood. And given that he’s set up shop here and is shooting as RIIFF gears up, the renowned comedian, nebbish, and director Woody Allen might agree.

Employing a wide array of local venues, from community screening rooms to art complexes and collegiate visual arts centers (RISD) in Providence and throughout the state, RIIFF works to build a community-based, festival feel with an international flavor. RIIFF’s ongoing goal is to promote new and emerging voices and spark a conversation about content and subject between the filmmaker and the filmgoer.

RIIFF’s incredibly diverse programing includes a strong LGBTQ segment; a collaborative “sidebar” of French language films co-presented with the Quebec Film Festival; the expanded Kids-eye festival, which offers four mornings of film screenings and activities for children and families; and the Providence Underground Film Festival which, true to its moniker and mission, showcases experimental new voices. There’s also the “Providence Film Location Walking Tour” to illuminate to filmmakers the rich locations the area has to utilize and promote Providence as a “backlot.” New this year is “Transcending Prejudice Through Storytelling,” a symposium on media literacy.

Also, Theodore “Theo” Bikel, who made his debut in The African Queen and received a Supporting Actor Oscar nod for his turn as Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones, will receive the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the closing night culminates with a block party at the fabulous Dark Lady.

Here are some best bet picks:

Tom In America | A short starring Burt Young (Paulie in the Rocky films) as a long-married man with a closeted past that through recent triggers comes to light. Sally Kirkland plays his confused wife. Young will be in attendance at the screening.

Caserta Palace Dream | An opening night short about Maria, the future queen of Spain and wife of Charles King of Naples and Sicily, and her romantic dalliance with renowned architect Luigi Vanvitelli. Richard Dreyfus plays Vanvitelli and James Mc Teigue (V for Vendetta) directs.

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  •   HOLLYWOOD, RI-STYLE  |  July 30, 2014
    The 2014 edition will premiere more than 240 films (features, shorts and documentaries) from 62 countries and 34 US states.
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 See all articles by: TOM MEEK