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It Will Be Movie Madness

Ridgefield joins the festival circuit



A scene from "The Girl in the Chair," a submission to the first-ever Ridgefield Independent Film Festival, May 20-22.

Grab your vintage reading glasses and your leather messenger bag, Ridgefield just got too hip to quit. The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival—or RIFF—the next big thing to hit the Ridgefield art scene, opens May 20. With six venues and 72 films from 24 different countries, the three-day festival promises to be packed with creativity and culture.

Joanne Hudson, founder and director of the festival and a resident since 2009, felt Ridgefield would be a suitable place for a film festival. “Our mission is to make the world a more compassionate place through the sharing of stories through cinema,” says Hudson. With a background in theater and a passion for film, Hudson developed the idea for the festival and put it into action. After “mentioning” to the arts council that a film festival would be a great addition to Ridgefield, the plan began to come together, with funding by sponsors and grants, as well as donations from local businesses. “It’s been a real collaborative effort,” says Hudson.

The film selections fall into six categories: Narrative Features, Documentary Features, Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Animated Shorts, and Student Films. Of the 200 films originally submitted, 72 were selected by a group of volunteers and staff. Each film received multiple views before the selection process, and final views by the programming team. Hudson says, “You can’t have too many similar films. We want it to be interesting for the audience as well as the highest-quality selection of films.”

The festival attracted submissions from all over the world and from filmmakers of all ages and backgrounds. “There are even a few local connections,” says Hudson. Among the selections are films made by former and current Ridgefield students, as well as one about Bedford, filmed in the town, and a documentary about the Sandy Hook tragedy, which Hudson calls “uplifting.” The selections will present a variety of subjects and points of view. “The filmmakers are really dedicated to communicating their stories,” Hudson adds.

The films will be distributed between six participating venues: the Ridgefield Playhouse, the Prospector Theater, the Aldrich Museum, Keeler Tavern, the Ridgefield Library, and the Garden of Ideas. The films have been carefully curated and paired with other films to provide the best viewing experience. In addition to the screenings, the festival will feature master classes, a series of short seminars led by film experts and working professionals.

The classes cover subjects like story-telling in narrative filmmaking, making a film on a micro-budget, and a class for kids ages eight to 12 about how to watch a film. “The idea is for filmmakers and audience members to attend the classes,” says Hudson. Over the three days of the festival weekend, there are also plans for screening events and parties for festival participants.

Tickets and passes can be purchased on the RIFF website. Various passes are available, including ones for all screenings, all screenings and master classes, all festival, or the all-inclusive all access. Tickets can also be purchased for individual screenings. For more information, visit riff.website.  

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