Celebrating its 22nd year, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival (Aug. 7-22) has an impressive track record for its acclaimed short film programs. The festival is a qualifying event in all three short film categories for the Academy Awards, one of only 26 film festivals worldwide with that distinction, and the only one in New England. The world premiere of Chris Overton’s “The Silent Child” took place at last year’s RIIFF, where it received the festival’s grand prize and went on to win the Oscar for short film (live action). It was the 10th short film to win an Oscar after screening at RIIFF; another 40 shorts have been nominated.
Ten short films kick off RIIFF’s opening ceremony, at the Providence Performing Arts Center. There are many other shorts programs during the RIIFF, with the festival screening some 290 films at venues around Providence. Highlights include “Orchard House: Home of Little Women” (Aug. 8, at the Providence Chamber of Commerce), a 30-minute documentary by Orchard House Executive Director Jan Turnquist that details the history of the Alcott family house, in Concord. Maya Hawke, who played Jo March in “Little Women” earlier this year, on “Masterpiece,” is among the notables in the film.
Two feature documentaries were shot in Rhode Island. “Tre Maison Dasan” (Aug. 11, Rhode Island School of Design), from director and RISD instructor Denali Tiller, explores parental incarceration through the eyes of three young boys. Directed by Amy S. Hart and Jeffrey M. Smith, “Secret Ingredients” (Aug. 11, Woodman Center/Moses Brown School) features local families in a story about people who regain their health and transform their lives after making a commitment to avoid certain foods.
Scripted features include “The Etruscan Smile” (Aug. 9, Veterans Memorial Auditorium), from Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun, stars Brian Cox as a codger who reluctantly leaves Scotland to seek medical treatment in San Francisco and moves in with his estranged son. Miranda Bailey’s “You Can Choose Your Family” (Aug. 10, Veterans Memorial Auditorium) is about a 17-year-old boy who blackmails his father after discovering his secret second family. Jen McGowan’s “Rust Creek” (Aug. 11, Veterans Memorial Auditorium) focuses on a college senior whose wrong turn on a road trip puts her in a life-changing fight for survival in the wilds of eastern Kentucky.
Go to rifilmfest.org.
Another notable out-of-town event, the 16th annual Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, presented by Run & Shoot Filmworks, runs Aug. 6-11 at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center. Highlights include an opening-night conversation with director Spike Lee about his new film, “BlacKkKlansman.” It’s based on Ron Stallworth’s book, “Black Klansman.” Stallworth will be in attendance. It’s the true story of an African-American police officer who went undercover to investigate the Ku Klux Klan. On Aug. 9, director George Tillman Jr. will screen clips from his new film, “The Hate U Give.” Based on the novel by Angie Thomas about the aftermath of a fatal police shooting, the film stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae, Common, and Anthony Mackie.
Barry Jenkins, who directed and co-wrote the 2017 best picture Oscar winner, “Moonlight,” will close the festival on Aug. 11, with clips and a discussion about his much-anticipated new film, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a love story set in 1970s Harlem and adapted from James Baldwin’s 1974 novel.
Go to mvaaff.com.
When comedy was king
The Silents Please series at the Somerville Theatre, in Davis Square, usually offers features from the silent era. But four rare early silent shorts starring the legendary comic duo Laurel and Hardy will unspool on the big screen in 35mm prints from the Library of Congress on Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. Jeff Rapsis provides live music to accompany the shorts: “Big Business,” “Call of the Cuckoos,” “The Finishing Touch,” and “You’re Darn Tootin.”Loren King can be reached at email@example.com.