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Rhode Island Animators Unite!: Rhode Island Independent Animators Shorts to be screened in Jamestown

On February 6, the first screening of Rhode Island Independent Animators Shorts will take place at the Jamestown Arts Center, and according to curator Brian O’Malley, it’s “going to be epic!”

“The screen is of a cinematic scale — big!” exclaims O’Malley. “The focus of this series of screenings is to bring short animated films made by Rhode Island animators to a broader audience in the state. This isn’t a film festival. I see it as a gathering of artists who happen to work with the medium of animation. All the filmmakers live and work in Rhode Island.”

At its inaugural event, the RIIA Shorts will screen animated films from six animators, with the length of the films ranging from one minute to 10 minutes. The theme of RIIA Shorts’ first event? “Transcendence.”

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An animator himself, O’Malley admits, “Sometimes I need a good kick to get going.” O’Malley was unsatisfied with the landscape of independent film festivals as an avenue to showcase film work. “I decided to start this up because it’s tedious and expensive to find festivals to show your work. Some festivals are between $25 and $50 dollars [to submit your film]. This series brings it home for people, and if you miss one venue; no worries — it’s coming around again in another part of the state.”

The Rhode Island Independent Animators Shorts already have two more events in the books for the future — one screening at the Hera Gallery in Wakefield on March 27, as well as one at the Bristol Art Museum on April 30. But right now, O’Malley’s focus is solely on the RIIA’s first event at the Jamestown Arts Center.

“They have a great space to showcase films with state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment.” Excited for the prospect of bringing together the animator community in the state, O’Malley plans on performing a short introduction at the top of the evening, and then jumping right into 47 minutes of short films. “There are eight films in the timeline. When the lights come back up we will have a casual Q&A with the attending animators and collaborators (including writers, sound people, etc) — whoever is there, and it should be most of us.”

O’Malley passionately continues, “We have such an eclectic lineup of animators that range in age from early 20s to early 60s.” He happily described the animators screening their work.

Steven Subotnick: “A professor at RISD in the film/animation/video department who’s been at this for over 30 years; he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.”

Daniel Sousa: “He was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015 for his animated short, Feral.”

Emily London: “An emerging talent, the youngest of all the animators. Her film, Whole, is making its debut.”

Riley Thompson and Joel Orloff: “Co-animated the film, When Planets Mate. The film has wonderful movement and is bursting with color.”

Mara Trachtenberg: “A professor at URI and CCRI, Mara is well-known for her photography. She has won two RISCA Fellowships (2016 and 2020), but is now producing these hypnotic stop-motion animations that are an extension of her still work.”

Hayley Morris: “Has her own studio in Providence – Shape and Shadow – where she creates incredible stop motion animations for bands like Explosions in the Sky. 

Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter: “Max is a Professor at RISD and runs an animation studio with Ru (his wife) called Tiny Inventions. I was ecstatic to pick up their film, Negative Space.” 

O’Malley finishes up humbly, with the addition, “And me. I teach Foundations at CCRI and Roxbury Community College. The film that’s part of the RIIA lineup is written and narrated in Spanish by Daniel Penengo, who is from Uruguay but lives in RI. The film takes you on a poetic journey of rebirth.

“In this world of how many ‘likes’ and ‘plays’ you get, I think all the animators and their collaborators would agree that nothing’s better than a gathering of people in a room to watch film and be transported to a different place,” O’Malley says. “I’m hoping that these screenings will bring people out that wouldn’t normally attend a film festival, and make them more aware of the unique and fascinating animation scene in Rhode Island.”

The first Rhode Island Independent Animators Shorts screening will take place February 6 at the Jamestown Arts Center. All ticketing information available at jamestownartcenter.org.

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