Film Festivals | Rhode Island

Record Year in Rhode Island

1 Aug , 2000  

Written by Amy Souza | Posted by:

At Rhode Island International Film Festival 2000, you'll find over 175 films and programs for scriptwriters, filmmakers, even kids.

In the past few years, Providence has undergone an urban transformation. And come the second week of August, film lovers from all over New England can enjoy the city’s revitalization plus the chance to view first-rate films.

This is the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s fourth year, and by all accounts it’s shaping up to be its best. There are over 175 films–films ranging from documentaries to independent features to a number of shorts. There’s even a screening of the classic film "Key Largo"–a tribute to Edward G. Robinson that coincides with the release of a U.S. postage stamp bearing his likeness.

This year saw a record 544 films submitted to the Festival, up from around 370 last year. Each film is screened by three judges, who range from industry professionals to people who just love movies. The films take many formats–from 16mm and 35 mm, to video and digital video–and will be screened at six Providence venues, including the Columbus Theatre, the Avon Theater, and the Cable Car Cinema. And for those who can’t make it into the city, the Festival will be showing some films in community libraries around the state. The South County Courthouse Center for the Arts will show the Best of the Fest from last year’s Festival.

This year the RIIFF is doing something daring, something most festivals don’t do: it’s screening a documentary at is premiere. It’s a film by Sydney Sherman entitled "Amargosa," about Marta Becket–a former New York City dancer and artist who turned an abandoned Death Valley theater into a magnificent showcase for the arts.

Betty Galligan, the Festival’s managing director, says, "I think it will draw a lot of people. It’s a beautifully done documentary, and it will be appreciated by people who like all types of art."

Showing before "Amargosa" is a short film called "For the Love of May." Directed by Mary McDonough (best known as Erin from "The Waltons") the film portrays four generations of women looking for true love. The film stars Patricia Neal (who played Mrs. Walton in the TV movie that preceded the series); Ru Paul (out of drag); and Alexandra Paul, a former Baywatch babe. McDonough will be in attendance, and filmgoers will get to rub elbows with her at the Premeire Party being held at the state house rotunda.

Other film highlights include "Mr. Rice’s Secret," a children’s film starring David Bowie; "Last Chance," a film directed by Brian Cranston, known for his current role as the Nascar-loving, hairy-backed father in TV’s "Malcolm in the Middle"; and "Carlo’s Wake" starring Martin Landau as the dead Italian-American who’s being waked. "Carlo’s Wake" is showing on Saturday, August 12th and coincides with WaterFire, an art installation along Providence’s riverfront. WaterFire brings the river to life, illuminating it by wood-burning torches. It’s always a packed event, and Festival coordinators are hoping moviegoers will also enjoy it.

The closing night film is called "Poor White Trash," and stars Jason London, William Devane, and Sean Young (who’ll be in attendance). And the closing night party will honor the film’s theme. Yes, it’s a poor white trash gala.

But the RIIFF is not just about watching films; it’s about learning to make them. Three programs make this festival really stand out. The first is "Take One, Two, Three: Filmmaking With The Pros" and it takes place August 7-9, throughout Providence. All aspects of independent filmmaking will be covered, from fundraising to shooting to editing. Leading the shoot will be Llyod Kaufman, an independent director of campy horror films. Tom Ohanian, who created the Avid system, will give pointers on editing. Students will also get hands-on experience both shooting and editing on Avid systems around town.

Another program is called KidsEye—it’s a four-day summer camp for kids aged 8 to 16. During these four days, kids will learn to shoot and edit video. Cameras donated by the New England Institute of Technology will allow the kids to get a feel for being behind the camera. They’ll be shooting scenes from a script by local writer Christopher Rendein, who crafted a story just for KidsEye. The program is run by Eleyn Austin Sharp, former head of the now-defunct New England Screenwriters Conference, and will be taught by a number of industry professionals. Managing Director Galligan notes there are still a few slots left for any budding Spielbergs out there.

The third program is a one-day screenwriting seminar called ScriptBiz. It’s a jam-packed day of lectures, script consultations, pitching sessions, and a panel discussion on selling your film to Hollywood. ScriptBiz will be held at the Providence Marriott Courtyard on Saturday, August 12th.

The Marriott is also Festival Central, complete with a visitor hospitality desk and a filmmaker lounge—the perfect place to kick back or mingle in between showings. RIIFF Managing Director Galligan hopes this year’s festival will bring new visitors into Providence, to enjoy the city and also the films.

"We’re really impressed with the quality of films this year," she says. "We encourage people to come and see different genres of films all in one place."

The schedule, though subject to change, is available on the Festival’s website at It will also be printed as an insert in the August 3rd edition of the Providence Phoenix.

The schedule, though subject to change, is available on the Festival’s website at It will also be printed as an insert in the August 3rd edition of the Providence Phoenix.

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