Shorts can make a big splash starting in the Ocean State

“Death Metal Angola.”
Rhode Island International Film Festival
“Death Metal Angola.”

With a break in film festival action in Boston and Cape Cod this month, there’s no excuse to miss the 17th annual Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), which runs Tuesday through Aug. 11 at various locations across the state. Known as Flickers, the six-day festival screens more than 200 feature-length dramas, documentaries, and short films. Since 2002, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized RIIFF as a qualifying festival (one of only 75 worldwide) for shorts. Last year, three shorts that premiered here (“Asad,” “Buzkashi Boys,” and “Henry”) went on to receive Oscar nominations.

The festival’s opening-night program (7 p.m. at The Vets in Providence) features nine shorts and awards presentations that will include New Hampshire resident Alfred Thomas Catalfo’s feature film script, “Betrayed,” which took top honors in the screenplay competition. (Catalfo’s short, “Rocketship,” screens Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m.) Rhode Island native Rachel Smith will get the Spotlight on Rhode Island Screenplay Award for her script “Fix You Up.”

The many strong documentaries in the festival include “Life According to Sam” (Aug. 11, 1 p.m.) about Sam Berns, a Foxborough High School sophomore with the rare, rapid-aging syndrome progeria, and his parents, Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns, both physicians, who care for him as they search for a cure. “Hungry in the West End” (Saturday, 6 p.m.) tells the stories of low-income seniors in Providence’s West End community. It’s directed by John Martin, former television critic and media writer at the Providence Journal and now communications director at AARP Rhode Island. Tony D’Annunzio’s “Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story” (Thursday, 9 p.m.) offers first-hand accounts by rock ’n’ roll legends who played the historic Detroit Grande Ballroom. Music is also the focus of Jeremy Xido’s “Death Metal Angola” (Aug. 11, 3:15 p.m.), which goes inside an orphanage in the city of Huambo, where a guitarist uses headbanging rock to help kids cope.


RIIFF also hosts a sidebar event, “Flickers: Quebec Film Festival” (Thursday, 7 p.m.) at the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket. This satellite venue will showcase the best French-language entries.

For a complete schedule, go to

“Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde.”

Great outdoors

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Another film event in the Ocean State is the outdoor screening of “Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde” presented by newportFILM on Thursday at dusk at the Newport International Polo Grounds in Middletown. The documentary examines the life of cowboy, conservationist, and writer Hyde, who is preserving 500 wild mustangs on the 12,000-acre Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs, S.D. Director Suzanne Mitchell will host a post-screening Q&A. On Aug. 15, newportFILM presents “The Summit,” about the 2008 deadly trek by 24 climbers up “the most dangerous mountain on earth.” It will be shown, drive-in style, at Newport’s First Beach parking lot (175 Memorial Blvd.). There’s a suggested donation of $5 per person for each screening.

For more information, go to

Bob Feller from rare films from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Early New Wave

Jacques Rivette was at the forefront of the French New Wave, though the director isn’t as well known as many of his counterparts. From Friday through Aug. 16, the Harvard Film Archive will spotlight Rivette by screening his 1981 film, “Le Pont du Nord,” which is only now receiving its first theatrical release in the United States. According to the HFA, this was considered Rivette’s “comeback” film, a standard-length feature revisiting the style and themes of his best-known work, “Celine and Julie Go Boating” (1974). “Le Pont du Nord” follows Marie and Baptiste (played by real-life mother and daughter, Bulle and Pascale Ogier) on what the HFA calls “a sort of dream quest through Paris, the city re-imagined by Rivette’s camera as a surreal landscape of mystery and danger.”

For more information, go to

Take me out

With the Red Sox in the middle of a pennant race, what better time to revisit rare films from the Baseball Hall of Fame? On Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m., the Amherst Cinema presents David Filipi, film and video director at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts, who has compiled a 90-minute program of rare shorts and footage from the Hall of Fame’s vaults. Included is footage from a 1945 Look magazine photo shoot of Jackie Robinson shortly after he signed with the Dodgers, early baseball films shot by the Edison company in 1898, a film on Cleveland great Bob Feller, and vintage commercials featuring Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Pete Rose.

For more information, go to

Loren King can be reached at