Drift to Avalonia

Mike Messier is the founder of the Avalonia Festival, a short-film festival that recently started in Providence. After a successful first event last December, they’re following up with a second festival on April 20 at Rhodywood Studios, AKA The Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House. I had a chance to talk with Messier about the upcoming festival and what to expect.

Chuck Staton (Motif): Tell me about the Avalonia Festival.

Mike Messier: Avalonia Festival is a celebration of very short films, film teasers [and] trailers, film photography and posters.

CS: How did the festival start?

MM: I was spending so much effort and energy — and money! — entering other film festivals, I figured I better start one myself! At the same time, in summer 2017, I was working on my own gothic vampire romance story titled Distance from Avalon as a screenplay, stage-play and novella, and I had just purchased the website distancefromavalon.com. So, in an effort to cross-promote, I created my own film festival as a “sister project” to Distance from Avalon.

CS: What is your background with film?

MM: I’ve acted in scenes with Meryl Streep, Mario Van Peebles, Wesley Snipes and Kevin Nash in major motion pictures. I recently teamed with Woodhaven Media’s Tommy DeNucci and 2 Cousins Productions to co-write and co-star in a horror film titled The Manor, which will be on Video On Demand on May 15. I also host Messier Mantra out of Seekonk, Mass, and before that I had a TV show out of Providence called Mike Messier Show.

CS: How has the festival changed your relationship to the film community in RI or increased your connection to it?

MM: People know they can enter Avalonia Festival and get a fair shot. For my part, it’s always great to see new talents developing whether from RI or worldwide.

CS: Do you have a most surprising film entry?

MM: Lucas Vossoughi from Australia entered the film poster for his film Fragments on behalf of his graphic designer Cesare Asaro, and it just captivated me; it felt like something from a Hitchcock film. Many films have come to me from countries where conditions are very harsh on filmmakers, yet they continue to pursue their work. Malik Al-Zuhairi was such a filmmaker, who told us his story, Dreamer, of a young sculptor whose dreams have been shattered by the poverty and destitution created by the wars in Iraq. Despite this, the Dreamer continues to dream. I found great inspiration in this film and was proud to have it be part of [the first] Avalonia Festival.

CS: How is your festival different from other film festivals?

MM: The emphasis of Avalonia Festival is on short films: 11 minutes and under, three minutes and under and one minute and under. By focusing on much shorter films, I can A) honor more films and B) have a bang-up website that actually features many of the winning films.

CS: What makes Rhode Island a good place to hold an event like this?

MM: Rhodywood Studios, run by Tony Demings, is a very warm and friendly place with a cozy, film-friendly vibe. Besides, Avalonia Festival is named after a continent of land that drifted off of Rhode Island and into the mists of time. Avalonia Festival aims to create the magic and art of that lost land.

CS: How and when can people experience the Avalonia Festival?

MM: Avalonia Festival II is scheduled for Friday, April 20 at Rhodywood Studios at 7pm. Avalonia Festival III is already booked for a larger room on December 7, 2018, at the Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston.

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