The University of Rhode Island is proud to have been involved with the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) for more than 15 years, and the Harrington School of Communication and Media has continued this important connection! One of the earliest collaborations occurred when Tom Zorabedian, now Assistant Dean and a member of the Film/Media faculty, brought in renowned filmmaker, Robert Downey, Sr., for a Master Filmmaking Class at the Providence campus during the summer as part of the festival.
Since then, RIIFF has donated tickets and passes to URI, valued at well over $150,000, to its various film events for outstanding URI students involved with film. Dr. Zorabedian noted that “The donations have allowed students not only to see exceptional international films, but also to meet and network with filmmakers and producers from around the world.” He added that this opportunity “provides our students with a real-life connections, an essential part of the learning experience.” One of our very own graduates, Rachel Smith, won the screenwriting prize in 2013! In addition to the annual festival, the donations have included passes to RIIFF’s film-related activities throughout the year, including the Scriptbiz screenwriting workshop, the Horror Fest, and the annual Oscar Experience.
RIIFF recently received exciting news as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences designated the festival with the new distinction of being one of only 34 qualifying film festivals in the world for the Documentary Short Subject Oscar! RIIFF has experienced an increase in growth and international recognition in the past few years, and the Academy also recognizes the festival as qualifying for the Narrative/Animated Short Film category. RIIFF is now one of only 19 festivals worldwide that qualify in both of these categories.
George Marshall, a URI alumnus and founder and executive director of the Flickers Arts Collaborative, the non-profit organization that produces the festival, explains, “What RIIFF brings to the table is something unique among all the players in the festival field since we are about discovery. Our brand has value and it is something that we think sharing will benefit the University and the Festival.”
The art of filmmaking is important to the Harrington School, and this collaboration allows our students to make exciting connections with the vibrant and creative world of filmmaking, gaining invaluable exposure and developing their filmmaking careers.
Not only do RIIFF and the Harrington School focus on college students, but they also target the younger generation. The KidsEye filmmaking camp for children takes place on the URI Kingston campus every summer and exposes young people to the filmmaking process, resulting in the students screening their own work. URI faculty have been involved with the unique camp for children.