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The first-ever Block Island Film Festival focuses its lens on student filmmakers

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Wait a minute, you think to yourself. I didn’t know Block Island had a film festival! How come I never thought to go before? That sounds like a blast!

Don’t be hard on yourself – you’ve never heard of it because it didn’t exist until this year. The brand-new festival will premiere June 11 on the Block Island waterfront, and attendees will be treated to screenings, talk-backs, multiple mixers, and a special “Coffee Time” panel at the National Hotel.

Rhode Island already hosts several established film festivals, as well as filmmaker challenges and regular screenings. But most of these are held in and around Providence; the Block Island Film Festival is both an exotic New England retreat and a surprising collaboration – between local arts organizations and the Entertainment Studies program at UCLA. This unexpected pairing will help shine a light on apprentice auteurs; one winner of the student film competition will be invited to spend time with industry experts
in Hollywood.

“We’re very excited and grateful to have UCLA’s Entertainment Studies’ involvement in the educational component of the film festival,” says Cassius Shuman, festival founder and a staff writer for the Block Island Times. “It is an esteemed school with a great and diverse film studies curriculum that is located at the film industry’s doorstep. This is an opportunity for a student filmmaker to take a step closer to realizing their dream.”

The festival will have a healthy professional presence as well: Submissions of shorts and feature-length films have been received from around the world, and many of the events are hosted by actress Kristin Carey, who has appeared in television series like Bones and The West Wing and has a close creative relationship with the Farrelly Brothers.

Unlike many such festivals, the Block Island lineup will have no particular theme, making it a grab-bag of different styles and tones. None of the films had been confirmed by press time, but the full schedule should be posted on the Festival website. The best part of attending this inaugural event: You can tell everyone you know, “I used to go to that festival before it got big.”

The festival takes place June 11-15 at various locations on Water Street, New Shoreham.