By Indiewire | Indiewire June 2, 2005 at 2:00AM
Newport Fest Opens Next Week With Douglas Keeve's "Seamless," Closes With Hans Petter Moland's "The Beautiful Country"
by Vanessa Romo
The Newport International Film Festival, showcasing the best independent film by emerging filmmakers and masters of the silver screen, kicks off June 7 through 12 in Rhode Island. It willl open with Douglas Keeve's "Seamless" and close with Hans Petter Moland's "The Beautiful Country." The eighth annual festival will screen 141 films, host opening and closing night film galas, and juried film competitions for narrative, documentary and short films. The six day event will also include three panel discussions on the craft and business of filmmaking, a Master class with cinematographer Ellen Kuras ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") and the Nortek-NIFF golf classic.
This year's festival will honor Michael McKean with the Claiborne Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement for his work as a writer, director, producer, actor and musician in the television and film industries. McKean, whose credits span nearly five decades including six years as "Lavern & Shirley"'s Lenny and starring roles in cult classics such as, "This Is Spinal Tap" and "A Mighty Wind" will be accompanied by longtime friends and collaborators Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer ("This Is Spinal Tap," "Waiting For Guffman," "A Mighty wind") along with Senator and Mrs. Claiborne Pell at the awards brunch on June 11. McKean will also participate in a "conversation" with festival attendees and play an acoustic performance with Guest and Shearer as MSG. Retrospective screenings of the "The Big Picture," "Best in Show" and "This Is Spinal Tap" will play throughout the week.
The 2005 NIFF Classic golf tournament will be held on June 7 at the Carnegie golf Club followed by the opening night film and gala. The Music on Film program starts on June 8 with a panel discussion and includes films about Townes Van Zandt, pedal steel player Robert Randolph, and Texas music legend Roky Erickson.
Douglas Keeve's "Seamless," financed by the Council of Fashion Designers of Amercia and Vogue, Keeves' film follows the careers of four struggling designers as they attempt to break into the competitive world of fashion. Hans Petter Moland's, "The Beautiful Country," about the 17-year-old son of an American G.I. and a Vietnamese mother is slated as the closing night film and will be attended by featured actor, Damien Nguyen.
Among the narrative competition submissions are Sebastian Cordero's "Cronicas," starring John Leguizamo, shot in Mexico and Ecuador. It is a dramatic commentary on America's foriegn policy in Latin America. "Le Grand Voyage," directed by Ismael Ferroukhi, is about the journey of a Morrocon father and son who set out on a religious road trip from France to Mecca, testing their relationship with every mile. A German woman from a rural town becomes a high school science teacher in a big city in Maren Ade's "The Forest for the Trees." Multimedia artist, Miranda July's debut feature film, "Me and You and Everyone We Know," is an observation of people struggling to connect with another, acting on secret desires and speaking their innermost thoughts.
The documentary competition films include Jessica Sanders' "After Innocence" which takes a look at the lives of wrongfully imprisoned men and women once they have been exonerated due to improved forensic science and DNA evidence; Directors Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani's, "The Devil's Miner," exposes the child-employment practices in the silver mines of Bolivia as experienced by 14-year-old Basilio Vargas; Set in Medillin, Colombia, "La Sierra" reveals what life is like for three teenagers growing up in a war-torn city ruled by gangs of illegal paramilitary armies; "Same Sex America," weaves the stories of seven gay and lesbian couples on their way to the altar with a climactic showdown at the Massachusetts constitutional convention. Rhode Island based filmmakers are invited to participate in an open screening for artists working in film and video. Submissions will be infomrally presented to an audience of peers and the general public on Sunday, June 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theatre.
[ For a full line-up and more festival details, please visit http://www.newportfilmfestival.com. ]