The Artists’ Exchange on Rolfe Square in Cranston, Rhode Island successfully presented its first annual Short Film Festival on January 19 and 20, 2007 to capacity crowds. The six documentaries, one trailer, two animations and fifteen narrative films produced laughter, tears and cheers from the audience in the Black Box Theater, housed within the Artists’ Exchange.
A “Meet the Filmmakers Party” and Awards Ceremony was held prior to the first screening. Steven Feinberg, Director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office presented the first four awards. Feinberg works to bring not only Hollywood productions into Rhode Island to boost the economy, he also gives of his time and resources to support local filmmakers as well. Feinberg stated “the award decisions were difficult to make because all of the films submitted were of very high quality. In fact, I’d like to congratulate all of the filmmakers tonight.”
The black and white short, “Bairstow and Miller” won an impressive three awards: Best Screenplay – J.P. Disciscio (who also directed), Best Actor – Waldo Fielding, and Best Short Film – Lisa Larachelle, Producer. “Bairstow and Miller” tells the entertaining and existential story of an aged writer and his overly animated cat as the author struggles to write “one true sentence” before he dies.
Chris Sparling of Scarredheel Productions won Honorable Mention (Director’s Award) for his film “Balance”. This story is about a difficult decision a mother and father grapple with as their son lies dying in the hospital.
Elaine McKenna Yeaw, Director of The Artist’s Exchange, presented the Artists’ Exchange Choice Awards, which were judged by the directors on staff: Best Comedy – “The Pee Pee Dance” – Jamie Benti: a hapless salesman is forced to make his presentation with growing pressure on his bladder. Best Documentary went to “Translate” – Rachel Ferro, Rocco Michaluk: a look at the many issues facing transgendered people. Best Student Film was awarded to – “Alive and Breathing” – Steve Davis: a visual interpretation of how a young man’s life is affected by his abusive father.
Immediately after the screening a Q & A session was held with all of the festival filmmakers. In addition to fielding questions from the audience, the artists shared their plans for their next projects. Three entries in the festival were award winners from other events: “The Tradition of My Family” – Todd David; “Mask of the Ninja” – Kevin Anderton; “Daydream” – Kal Almkhaaf, Mike Ryan.
Local sponsor NBC10 News gave permission to screen T.J. Paolino’s bid to play former Providence Mayor “Buddy” Cianci in Michael Corrente’s film, “The Prince of Providence”. Concord Brewery provided refreshments at the pre-screening party, also representing Boston Barrel & Tap. The other sponsors were Motif Magazine, New England Film and Video Association (NEFVA), The Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House, The Rhode Island Film Collaborative (RIFC), Windmill Studio and The Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF).
Toni-Ann Baker, Film Festival and Promotions Manager for the Artists’ Exchange, and a local filmmaker as well, was thrilled at the success of the event. “We were extremely pleased with the turnout at the opening night of our Short Film Festival”, said Baker. “The Artists’ Exchange was honored to have the opportunity to showcase New England Filmmakers, and we are grateful to the filmmakers for making last night such a huge success.”
Yeaw, who also oversees the day program at the Artists’ Exchange, was happiest about the successful integration of this event into the local community. “This is such a great event”, enthused Yeaw. “I hope that this energy spreads out further into the [larger] community as well. We not only want to help energize Rolfe Square by being a part of this community, but we also want to provide an opportunity for artists of all kinds to display their work and become part of a greater community.”
In addition to Steven Feinberg, judges for the main awards were: Don Farias, Programming Director of the RI International Film Festival, Rich Morra, Artistic Director of the Back Box Theater, Mike Fink, Professor of Film at RI School of Design, and Mark Foggarty, President of The Rhode Island Film Collaborative.
The Artists’ Exchange Choice Awards were judged by Karen Bouchard, Visual Arts Director of the Artists’ Exchange, Elaine McKenna Yeaw, Director of the Artists’ Exchange, and Rich Morra, Artistic Director of the Black Box Theater.
The programs at the Artists’ Exchange present an innovative model for integrating artists within the community, the public, and people with disabilities into an enriching environment to serve both business and artistic endeavors. The Artists’ Exchange is made possible through Gateways To Change, Inc. Yeaw states that “Cathy McGillivary, Executive Director of Gateways To Change, gives The Artists’ Exchange her continued, unwavering support.”