The Rhode Island International Film Festival will open its festival tonight in Providence with its traditional focus on shorts. Among the films slated for the opening night program is Alec Asten's "Billy Gilman: Making of the Videos," which will have its world premiere. Gilman will be among the attendees walking the red carpet as will many filmmakers from the other seven films slated to kick off the ninth annual event. RIIFF is one of 47 festivals qualifying festivals in the world recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the short film category in the Oscar race.
Self-styled as New England's largest film festival, the RIIFF will host 221 films from 62 countries, including 45 world premieres. Among the world debuts is local filmmaker Cherry Arnold's doc, "Buddy," which takes a look at controversial former Providence mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci. Other festival highlights include Joe Eckardt's "Champion," which chronicles the tumultuous life of Danny Trejo, who will receive the festival's RIFF Humanitarian Award. the film includes interviews with Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi and Robert Rodriguez.
Also slated is Stu Pollard's "Keep Your Distance," about a talk show host whose "perfect life crumbles," and Mary Healey-Conlon's doc on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, "Holy Water Gate." Michael Showalter's debut feature "The Baxter," will screen in the festival. Showalter, who stars in the film, and is this year's recipient of the Crystal Image Award, is a comedy about the "travails of a young man two weeks away from his wedding." The comedy also stars Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Peter Dinklage and Paul Rudd. Portuguese-language U.S. doc "Favela Rising" (by Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist) follows the man who came from the slums of Rio de Janeiro and lead a nonviolent cultural movement knows as Afro-reggae. Closing the festival will be 1926 silent feature "The Black Pirate," starring Douglas Fairbanks. The film will be accompanied by a live original score composed by the Alloy Orchestra.
"This year, we are pleased to be presenting a brave, risk-taking slate of films," said RIIFF executive director George T. Marshall in a statement. "We are both gratified and buoyed by the quality and quantity of submissions received from throughout the world. I am particularly excited that we will continue to celebrate the art of the short film with an opening-night selection of some great shorts followed by a fantastic opening-night party at the Villa Toscano on Federal Hill."
[ For more information, please visit http://www.film-festival.org ]