The Best of the 48 Hour Film Project Comes to AS220

48The Best of The 48 Hour Film Project will play on August 22 at the AS220 main stage. Although the films selected have not been announced yet, there will be plenty to choose from as over 50 teams competed.

The competition challenges teams of filmmakers to make a movie in less than two days. That means you do everything — write it, shoot it, edit it, cry and sleep.  To keep teams honest (although there is a theory that some teams try to write ahead of time), the teams are given a prop, a line of dialogue and a character at 7pm on Friday night. These elements must be incorporated into the film. This year’s character was Van or Vanna Trumbull, a detective, so plan on seeing a lot of fedoras. The prop was a helmet and the line of dialogue was, “Where did that come from?”  Each team was required to incorporate these elements into the genre they chose out of a hat.

This is the 10th year that the Rhode Island Film Collaborative held the competition in Providence. The teams ranged from high school students to  families looking for a weekend activity, professional filmmakers, film students and more than a few whackos. (I’m talking about you, Megaporker Productions.)

The purpose of the 48 is inspiration, and this year inspired some truly cool moments. “I’m pretty sure one film was partially filmed in Japan during the team leader’s honeymoon,” said Mel Rainsberger, producer. There also was a film made in a nudist colony and another whose characters all were cats.

The Best of show will cut out the riff-raff and leave you with about a dozen of the finest films ever made about a helmet wearing detective named Van (or Vanna) Trumbull.

Awards will be given at the screening/party. The nominees will be posted soon at 48hourfilm.com/providence-ri

Eat Your Way Through the Animal Kingdom at the Newport Jerky Company

jerky1If you are the kind of person who goes to the zoo and thinks, “I wonder what that son-of-a-bitch tastes like,” then the Newport Jerky Company is for you.

I am a self-confessed jerky addict. Maybe it’s the chewy texture. Maybe it’s the spicy taste. Whatever it is, I’ll eat jerky every chance I get. I’m also the kind of guy who drinks hot sauce and puts bacon on my bacon. The owners of the Newport Jerky Company built a store for people just like me.

Ever wonder what a snapping turtle tastes like? How about a camel or a python? “I won’t be shy to tell you if something tastes gross,” says Jay Souza, who owns the shop with partner Derek Medico. Like zebra tarantula, which I will admit that on Jay’s recommendation I opted out of trying. “Too crunchy for me,” says Souza. The earthworm jerky was another I’ll-take-your-word-on-it taste treat.

I did try the kangaroo jerky, which is perfect for athletes looking for a low-fat protein boost. It had a nice mild taste and zero fat because, according to Souza, “They hop around all day and keep lean, not like the lazy cow.” Python was the store’s biggest seller last year. I hate snakes more than Indiana Jones does, so I got my revenge and took a bite. It was tough, but had a nice flavor.

If you are less interested in dare me foods (Katie Lewis, I dare you to eat the zebra tarantula), there is a huge selection of just plain old, expertly handmade beef jerky. As lovers of all things local, Jay and Derek created jerky using Narragansett beer and another variation using a selection of herbs and Newport Vineyards red wine. The latter was particularly delicious and tender. And they are currently creating a recipe using Sons of Liberty whiskey.

The store carries a line of vegan and vegetarian jerky that Jay claimed was delicious; however, I took his word for it and stuck with my plan to eat my way through the animal kingdom.

jerky2Super high in protein and low in fat, small-batch jerky like that made and sold by The Newport Jerky company is, surprisingly, a health food. “Not like that Jack Links crap, which is full of sodium and preservatives and breaks your teeth,” said Souza. The recipes are created in-store by Jay and Derek, then a father/son team in Nevada makes the jerky, which is hand crafted in small batches, vacuum-sealed, then USDA and FDA inspected and approved.

Not just about jerky, this is a place that caters to lovers of all things spicy, meaty and strange. There is bacon everything. Bacon-flavored sriracha, beer bacon chipotle hot sauce, bacon soap, bacon lip balm. Another hot item is the roadkill sausage, which is not made from roadkill, just a mashup of a dozen animals you might find in the grill of a mac truck. Or you could dine on sausage made from the mysterious jackalope. Says Souza, “I showed it to a couple of staff members who said, ‘I thought jackalope was fake.’” Oh no. They are real. Look it up.

When stopping by, try the fire cider. It’s delicious and can cure a hangover, end a cold or give you a pick-me-up. The store’s extensive line of hot sauces also shouldn’t be missed. Bloody Mary lovers can put a new spin on brunch with one of the store’s mixes, featuring flavors like bacon cheeseburger and lobster with wasabi. Pour it over ice, then garnish it with a meat straw. The store also boasts a massive selection of meat sticks, including unusual meats like elk and alligator. Souza said someone once asked for a squirrel stick, however, “we won’t be stocking squirrel anytime soon.”

For those of you with a sweet tooth, check out the healthy selection of bug lollipops, which inspired a tantrum from my 2-year-old when I turned down his request to try one. These aren’t like the lollipops they give away at the bank, kid. I don’t think you want that.

The Newport Jerky Company’s new location already has plenty of fans in the neighborhood. Across the street, the Brick Alley Pub offers a Newport Jerky Bloody Mary made with Absolut Peppar vodka and the store’s Roadkill Chipotle Hot Sauce, then rimmed with bacon salt and garnished with herb and red wine jerky. Head over there after your shopping trip — it’ll get the zebra tarantula taste out of your mouth.

Visit the new store at 424 Thames St or stop by the original at 125 Swinburne Row, both in Newport. Or shop online at newportjerkycompany.com


SENE Celebrates its Seventh Year

Want a film screening, live music and art every night of the week? The SENE Film Music and Arts Festival seeks to provide just that. During the week of April 20th through the 25th, filmmakers and film enthusiasts will gather at the seventh annual festival.

Co-founders Phil Capobres and Don Farias are the nice guys of the film festival circuit; that might be why Cherry Arnold chose to have the world premiere of her new film Bluebirds Fly, Love and Hope on the Autism Spectrum at SENE. Cherry, who had a hit on her hands a few years ago with the doc Buddy, turned her lens from corrupt ex-mayors toward autism and how it affects the lives of several families.

“The hardest part of running a festival is saying no to filmmakers. We wish we could show them all,” said Capobres, co-founder and artistic director of the festival. Receiving thousands of submissions, the selections are brought down to 120 films, ranging from comedy, horror, sci-fi, animation and documentary. The nice guys of the festival circuit reach out across the world for films. They come from Kazakstan, Spain and Iran, as well as all across the country, but the festival has not turned its back on local film. There are 27 films from local filmmakers that include a zombie musical short featuring music by Providence musicians The Denver Boot, as well as horror of the most relatable kind. In The Creed, a woman finds herself unable to get rid of tickets to a concert from the titular band. Terrifying.

The festival also celebrates local artists who left home and made good, like the Giovanis brothers, who have brought their film Bereave back home to their native Rhode Island. The brothers, originally from Coventry, have been working in Hollywood for years and their new feature has received excellent reviews and accolades. The film stars Malcolm McDowell, Jane Seymour and Keith Carradine. McDowell is a suicidal husband who gets a new lease on life when his wife disappears.

What sets this festival apart is its focus on not just film, but all art and how it interacts with film. “We get a lot of films submitted about art and music,” said Capobres. Further highlighting the deep connection between film and music, there will be a film scoring panel on Saturday at noon at The Columbus Theatre. Mauro Colangelo, who has scored everything from  Ferrari and Reebok commercials to feature films, will be there explaining the process along with Eric Barao, Dean Cascione and Rich Kelly.

The festival starts Monday at The Colombus Theatre with a program of feature films (see review of the festival opening film: Wildlike), horror shorts and a series of films commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Horror buffs should be sure to check out the film Tuck Me In, which delivers a potent shock in its incredibly tight one-minute running time. “I showed it to a co-worker who said after watching it she would not sleep that night,” said Capobres.

Tuesday kicks off the music with a performance by the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow and a screening of a film about the band followed by a program of music videos. The live performance will take place a the Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House, a favorite venue of local filmmakers. The owner of the Brooklyn, Tony Demmings, will receive an award at the Limelight party on Thursday night. Other award winners include Motif Publisher Mike Ryan and Jon & Betty Jane Berberian of the Columbus Theatre. The Limelight party held at the Warwick Art Museum features music and art by URI seniors as well as live music, food, beer and more.

Friday the SENE fest travels around the world and back again with a series of international films followed by a screening of local shorts.  The international feature Hunting the Phantom features Kristanna Lokken (of Bloodrayne fame) and Armand Assante in a science-fiction conspiracy thriller.

Saturday brings a day full of films including documentaries, short films, an LGBQT short series, animation and more. The animation screening includes films ranging from family-friendly to not-so-family-friendly fare.  “We give families a warning before the R-rated animation starts,” assures Capobres.

The week culminates in a party with a live performance by New Jersey-based indie songwriter Zak Smith, 2013 Jersey Acoustic Music Award Winner for Best Vocalist.

The mission of SENE is bringing people together through film, music and art, and the festival has always succeeded in doing just that. You may come for the films, but you stay for the music, art or the community. SENE continues to grow every year with more and more submissions; however, the festival’s founders seek to grow while keeping their mission intact. According to Capobres, “We don’t want to get too big. We want the festival to feel intimate.”

The SENE Film Music and Arts Festival runs from Apr 20 – 25. For information on schedule and venues or to purchase all-access passes, go to senefest.com.