RI Film Festival Opens

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


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It may have been the boyish David Bettencourt's gracious, mature film about Newport doyenne Eileen Slocum that was the show last night at the 14th Annual Rhode Island International Film Festival's opening night screenings, but it was former Governor Bruce Sundlun who may have stolen the show.

Sundlun appears several times in Behind the Hedgerow, the documentary about Slocum and her iconic life and lifestyle in Newport created by Bettencourt and film partner and writer G.Wayne Miller. On screen, Sundlun retells a vintage anecdote about Slocum's politics and party giving, and grabbed the laughs of the night in a largely full Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, the festival's equally gracious new home.

But it was Sundlun, who was in the audience, along with several descendents of Slocum (and a cadre of Newport attendees), who emerged into the bright VMA lobby after the film and drew the crowds. Even Barnaby Evans drew near to wish the Governor well. Some things, despite the bittersweet passing of Slocum and her generation, may never change. 

Otherwise, the night was Bettencourt's and Miller's, who shared the screen with a bundle of intriguing short films, from Kyle Bell's crazed, animated story of a bug-eyed rodent adopted by an indulgent pair of nesting birds, to the haunting Wenn Baume Puppen tragen ("If Trees Carried Dolls"), Ismail Sahin's German/Tanzanian film that nears its horrific subject - African genital mutilation - with poetry and dread.

The party continues all week, with more than 200 films screening in three communities. For the most up-to-date information and details, go to http://www.film-festival.org/. And come back to GoLocalProv for ongoing coverage of events, talks, and screenings.


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