JWU College of Arts & Sciences

JWU Hosts International Film Festival

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There’s always something going on at JWU — even in the summer.

From August 7-10, JWU hosted screenings for the world-renowned Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), a film festival that has taken place in Providence for the last 23 years. RIIFF brings filmmakers from all over the world to Rhode Island in celebration of independent filmmaking. It’s a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards in three categories (Live Action Short, Animation Short and Documentary Short), meaning their grand prize selections in these categories are considered for Oscar nominations. In other words, they’re kind of a big deal in the filmmaking world.

So, it seemed only fitting that with a brand-new Center for Media Production where students can hone their filmmaking skills, JWU should join forces with RIIFF to bring international films and the people who make them to campus.

“We were thrilled to have been able to host RIIFF screenings in JWU’s brand new Center for Media Production and to offer our students the opportunity to see first-hand the realities of independent filmmaking,” said Michael Fein, Ph.D., the dean of the John Hazen White College of Arts & Sciences. “What better way to prepare them for their own roles in the media industry?”

q and a bestL TO R: FILMMAKERS BRYAN BURTON (“PUSH THE POINT”), SANDRA WINTHER (“LOWLAND KIDS”), JEREMY MERRIFIELD (“BALLOON”) AND TODD MARTIN (“LOWLAND KIDS”) ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR FILMS.

There was certainly an opportunity to learn from independent filmmakers, as many were present to see their film screened and field questions from the audience afterwards. RIIFF reported that 347 filmmakers and many of their cast and crew members traveled to Providence to attend the festival. They came from countries all over the globe, including Taiwan, India, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Peru, Canada, Spain and France.

In total, 321 films from 51 countries and 34 states in the U.S. were screened across 17 venues. JWU had the opportunity to screen two world premieres and also screened a large number of films that ultimately won awards — the most prominent being “A La Deriva,” which is now RIIFF’s official Academy nomination for Best Short Documentary.

Overall, the week was a success and provided the chance to have a trial run for the Center for Media Production before its official ribbon cutting ceremony in October. Associate Professor Evan Villari, who has been instrumental in bringing the center from conception to reality, was excited to see the space in action. “The use of our new space for this event marked the first of many opportunities to come, and allows JWU to connect with the community — both locally and internationally.”

a la deriva audienceA LARGE AUDIENCE WATCHES “A LA DERIVA,” RIIFF’S OFFICIAL ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION FOR BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY.

Notable winners screened at JWU:

  • Best Short Documentary, Grand Prize (RIIFF’s Official Academy Nomination)
    “A La Deriva” (Adrift) | Directed by: Paula Cury Melo | Dominican Republic, 2019
  • Best Comedy Short
    Grand Prize: “Clam Dog” | Directed by: Jeannie Nguyen | United States, 2019
    First Prize (tie): “A Sari For Pallavi” |Directed by: Kate Chamuris | United States, 2018
  • Best Actress, First Prize
    Chloe Berk, “Summer Fridays” | Directed by: Blair Baker | United States, 2019
  • Best Screenplay, First Prize
    “Sometimes I Think About Dying” | Written By: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, and Kevin Armento, Directed by: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, United States, 2018
  • Best Music Video, First Prize
    “Push the Point” | Directed by: Bryan Burton, United States, 2019
  • Best Director, First Prize
    Matthieu Maunier-Rossi | “Three Blades” | France/Haiti, 2019
  • The Marlyn Mason Award, First Prize
    New voices, new perspectives by women in film
    Melanie Charbonneau | “Lunar Orbit Rendezvous” | Canada, 2018
  • Filmmaker of The Future Award
    Presented to a filmmaker whose vision excites audiences and judges alike about the potential to produce compelling and successful films in the future.
    Sandra Winther | “Lowland Kids” | United States, 2018

Note: “Grand Prizes” are considered the primary winner, and “First Prizes” are the secondary winner. RIIFF does this purposely to allow filmmakers to promote their films as a “First Prize winner” instead of a “second place winner.”

For a full list of this year’s winners, visit the RIIFF Awards page.

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Topics: Providence Media & Communication Studies