Redding's HamletHub Wed, 17 Oct 2018 07:45:43 -0400 Joseph A. Orlando, 91, of Redding has died

Joseph A. Orlando

Joseph A. Orlando, 91, of Redding, formerly of Fairfield, passed away on Sunday, October 14, 2018. He was the loving husband of the late Dorothy Orlando.

Mr. Orlando was born on October 5, 1927, in the Bronx, NY, a son of the late Salvatore and Anna Orlando.  Upon his retirement as a financial executive, Mr. Orlando provided counseling to small businesses through the SCORE organization and enjoyed skiing, boating and traveling, but mostly treasured time spent with his family.
Mr. Orlando is survived by his five children: Barbara Orlando; Joe Orlando and his wife, Barbara; Patty Volpacchio and her husband, Gino; Donna Moloznik and her husband, Bruce and Dory Bertsche and her husband, Jeff. In addition, Mr. Orlando is survived by eleven grandchildren: Joe, Catie, Laura, Ali, Nick, Julia, Anna, James, Ben, Grace, and Sarah. 
Mr. Orlando was predeceased by his parents; his wife, Dorothy and a son, John.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM at Sacred Heart Church; 30 Church Street, Georgetown. Interment will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY. Friends will be received on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society –
]]> (Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home) Neighbors Tue, 16 Oct 2018 13:41:19 -0400
Reby Advisors Is Calling All Fairfield County Retirees & Future Retirees - Are You Ready?

The Transition from Career to Retirement: Are You Ready?

Fairfield County retirees and individuals planning to retire within the next 10 years now have a local educational resource they can turn to for guidance on how to retire successfully in any economy.

Reby Advisors has announced a new complementary retirement income planning seminar titled The Transition from Career to Retirement: Are You Ready? that will cover financial strategies designed to help families sustain their lifestyle through retirement without running out of money.

Space is limited. RSVP today by calling (203) 790-4949, emailing, or clicking  HERE.

“With the recent volatility in the stock market and the ceaseless cycle of negative news, many investors are understandably nervous about Wall Street and our political leaders,” event host Reby Advisors explains. “In this environment, it’s critical for retirees to be able to generate sustainable retirement income despite market volatility, geopolitical uncertainty and rising prices and taxes.”

From October through December, Reby Advisors will host seven educational seminars designed for people who’ve recently retired or who plan to retire within the next 10 years. The presentation will be held at 44 Old Ridgebury Road in Danbury, Connecticut. Attendees can choose to attend an evening event or a “Lunch and Learn” seminar.

For complete dates and times click HERE.

Seminars are complementary and food and beverages will be provided but reservations are required and seating is limited!  RSVP today by calling (203) 790-4949, emailing or emailing, or clicking  HERE.

Presenter Doug Kuring, a Financial Advisor at Reby Advisors will share strategies backed by 33 years of retirement planning experience:

  • The 8 factors that determine your retirement income
  • An investing strategy designed to capture all market opportunities, grow your portfolio through retirement and keep pace with rising prices and taxes
  • Determining how much income your savings can produce annually
  • How to address the three biggest risks to your retirement income
  • How to reduce your income taxes under the Tax & Jobs Act of 2017
  • Why the average investor underperforms a diversified 60/40 portfolio by 3.8% annually; and how to avoid their mistakes and get the returns you deserve!
  • And much, much more...

You'll also have an opportunity to get YOUR specific questions answered in the Q&A.

RSVP today by calling (203) 790-4949, emailing or emailing, or clicking  HERE.

As a "thank you" for attending Reby Advisor’s educational seminar, you'll receive a print copy of Wealth Redefined: Charting the Way to Personal and Financial Freedom, Bob Reby's second book which has reached the Amazon Best Seller Lists in the Retirement Planning and Budgeting & Money Management categories for eBooks.

Sign up for the FREE seminar and discover your own unique version of wealth HERE.

Learn more about Reby Advisors HERE.

]]> (HH) Neighbors Tue, 16 Oct 2018 11:02:41 -0400
Redding Police Let It Grow To Support Connecticut Cancer Patients

No Shave November for Redding's Finest

For the third consecutive year, the Redding Police Department will be participating in No-Shave November to raise money to support the mission of the CT Cancer Foundation. The money they raise will help CT cancer patients pay their basic living expenses, like rent, mortgage, and utilities, while they go through treatment.  

"For the entire month of November, our officers will not shave," Redding Police say.

Support Redding's finest and make a donation HERE.

The Connecticut Cancer Foundation's goal is to reach $10,000 in donations! All of the money that is raised will go towards helping Connecticut cancer patients and their family.

Police say, "We cannot accomplish this goal without you, so please support No Shave November!"

Visit the Redding Police Fundraising Page HERE.

]]> (HH) Charities Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:26:30 -0400
RIFF Festival Headquarters, Dance Party, Saturday Hunt, After Party (you can have it ALL)

Did you know that RIFF (Ridgefield Independent Film Festival) has Festival Office at 17 Catoonah Street, across from the Fire Station?

The big Festival Weekend is upon us! If you have any questions, feel free to stop by Festival Headquarters, open every day from 12 noon to 5pm. While there, you are invited to enter to win a VIP All Access Festival Pass ... and get a Special discount code you can use online to get 20% off all tickets.

In addition to a Dance Party, captivating films, and the RIFF "After Party", RIFF invites you to participate in a great downtown Ridgefield adventure.

Enter the RIFF Scavenger Hunt.

The great hunt will begin at 10:00 am on Saturday morning, October 20 at The Ridgefield Playhouse. There, you will receive instructions and the first clue. The clues will send participants to eight locations between the Playhouse, Library, Catoonah Street and The Aldrich. Bring a sense of adventure, your smartphone, sneakers, and a creative mind! 

The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival will kick off on Friday, October 18 and extend through Sunday, October 21. View the complete schedule of events here.

]]> (HH) Events Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:21:00 -0400
Plane Crash Update: One Victim Identified

According to New York State Police, on Saturday, October 13th, 2018 at approximately 10:59 AM numerous 911 calls were made of a small plane that went down in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 1 mile off the beach near Dune Road in the Village of Quogue.

The plane took off from Waterbury-Oxford Airport and made a stop at Danbury Municipal Airport before it crashed.

The New York State Police have reported that the body recovered from the plane crash has been identified as 41 year old Waterbury resident, Munidat Persaud. The deceased was the owner of the plane.

Two more bodies have been recovered, one was an adult female and the second was an adult male. The identity of both victims have not been confirmed, police say. 



]]> (HH) Public safety Mon, 15 Oct 2018 05:38:43 -0400
RIFF - All In The Family, Festival News

From Thursday, October 18 through Sunday, October 21 RIFF features over 100 fabulous films from around the world—including shorts and features that are appropriate for kids of all ages (and their parents!)
To help you plan your family film outing, here's a sneak peak of our family friendly film fare.
FAMILY SHORTS (All Ages) 70 minutes
SHOWING: October 20, 2018 @ 1:30 PM RIDGEFIELD LIBRARY
THE COOK & THE CHEF (6 minutes) Animated Short – Canada 2018 (STUDENT) Director/Animator Andre Sitolini - In a town famous for their popular master chef, a young cook competes against him to prove his worth.
WILD ICE BACKCOUNTRY SKATING (3 minutes) Documentary Short – USA (2017) Producers Cale Green and Paxson WoelberBackcountry skating is the practice of hunting for wild ice, whether on a river, lake, glacial lagoon, or inside an ice cave. Filmed in south central and southeast Alaska over the course of two winters Wild Ice features Nordic bladers, hockey players, and figure skaters.
KRASNOLUDKI (5 minutes) Animated Short – Belarus (2018) Director/Animator - A boy’s toy is broken and krasnoludki (small elves) living in his house secretly help him.
GIRLS LEVEL UP (10 minutes) Documentary Short – USA (2017) Director Anne Edgar - Girls Level Up, profiles a “Girls Make Games” summer camp where girls are given three weeks to make their own video game demo. Camp founder Laila Shabir, who grew up in a conservative Muslim neighborhood in the Middle East before coming to the United States, provides a unique perspective on the challenges facing girls who love video games and dream of making them.
UNDISCOVERED (3 minutes) Animated Short – USA 2017  Director Sara Litzenberger - Undiscovered explores the real reason there are no good photos of Sasquatch.
WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS (4 minutes) Narrative Short – France (2018) Director Michael Barocas - The life of a man through his hands and those around him.
CORKY (6 minutes) Animated Short – USA (2017) Director Ty Primosch - A corkscrew with a screw loose battles a giant glass bottle to uncork seven magical lightning bugs trapped inside. Q&A with Director/Animator Ty Primosch
BASKETBALL (4 minutes) Narrative Short – USA (2017) Director Anthony Schubert A woman struggles to learn the fundamentals of basketball and never gives up.
IN A NUTSHELL (6 minutes) Animated Short – Italy (2017) Director/Animator Fabio Friedli - Capturing the world in a nutshell.
UNSTUCK: AN OCD Kids Movie (23 minutes) Documentary Short USA (2017) Director Kelly J. Anderson -  Unstuck documents Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) through kids’ eyes only. It avoids sensationalizing compulsions and obsessions, and instead reveals the complexity of a disorder that affects both the brain and behavior. As these six resilient kids and teens roadmap their process of recovery, the film inspires viewers to believe it is possible to fight their worst fears and beat back OCD. Q&A with filmmaker and kids featured in the film.
PURPLE DREAMS     (72 Minutes)            Ages 10 +           Documentary Feature USA (2017)        Director Joanne Hock  
Q&A with Executive Producer Robin Grey, and dancer Javontre Booker who is featured in the film, moderated by Tony-award winning actor/arts activist James Naughton.
Film preceded by the 9-minute multiple award-winning animated short 
 TWO BALLOONS     USA (2018)        Director Mark C. Smith 
Uplifting, heartfelt, and Inspirational, Purple Dreams reveals an extraordinary ARTS in Education success story. This documentary shadows six at-risk black high school students on an emotionally powerful three-year journey of transformation in a racially biased City. With access to the Arts and academic mentors, our at-risk youth have the potential to break the cycle of poverty in a single generation. These students struggle with homelessness, low-income neighborhoods, gang-related violence and single parent households as they further their education with a triumphant musical production that propels them into a world of opportunity they never expected.
Join ABC / PBS Host and Explorer Richard Wiese in a visual trip around the world to some of the many places, people and animals he has visited over the course of producing his Emmy-Award winning nature program  Born to Explore With Richard Wiese.
SHOWING: October 20, 2018 @ 11:00 AM, RIDGEFIELD LIBRARY
Narrative Feature (2018)   South Africa  Director Craig Freimond
SHOWING: October 20   @ 12 PM       Adventure / Outdoors   Ages 12 & Up  RIDGEFIELD LIBRARY
Inspired by the true story of Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, who overcame their differences and together won gold in the challenging Dusi Canoe Marathon. 
Duma is a talented young man who feels trapped by his surroundings and finds himself on the wrong side of the law. He finds an escape in an old passion —the world of canoeing. Steve is a nine-time Dusi Canoe Marathon gold medalist whose marriage is on the verge of collapse because he is tryint to escape from something in his past. The two men find themselves attempting the three-day Dusi Canoe Marathon as a doubles pair. To realize their dream, they must  they must first overcome the different worlds they come from and then work together in the boat and beyond the river.
]]> (RIFF) Neighbors Sun, 14 Oct 2018 09:50:37 -0400
Ridgefield Library Takes Top Bocce Prize, RVNA Earns Coveted Spirit Award, All Claim Fun!

2018 Branchville Area Civics Charity Bocce Tourney

The battle for the esteemed title of Branchville Champion Bocce Team raged yesterday, Saturday, October 13 on the site of the new Branchville bocce courts located at 59 Willridge Road in Ridgefield. At the helm of the Fourth Annual Branchville Charity Lawn Bocce Tournament was Mitch Ancona, owner of Ancona's Wines and Liquors. "I love helping people make memories," he says. And there are a lot of them.

Representatives from six local charities including The Women's Center, Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, Ridgefield Library, Wilton Library, and RVNA gathered on Mitch Ancona's Bocce Arena at about 10:00 am to set up tailgate "shop" (Rain? what rain?). Grills were firepits were smoking and an array of tailgate provisions were flowing. 

"The motto of this tourney is simply to have fun...and give some money away to some awesome organizations that help make our communities even more wonderful," says Ancona.

Each team engaged in friendly competition for over $3,000 in prize money.

After three years of bocce fame, the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department hung their hat. The final round found library battling library, and Wilton fell to Ridgefield. Comprised of Shane Casey, Chris Couri, Woody Harford, and Peter Coffin, team Ridgefield Library brought their "A" game and walked away with top prize, $1,500.00 as well as bragging rights and a handsome trophy.

Wilton Library finished in 2nd place earning $750. In 3rd place with $500 in prize money was Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department and in 4th was Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, earning $250. 

A coveted award is for "Spirit" and that went to RVNA for their tailgate cheer and overall sportsmanship.

Thank you to Big Little Taco for heating up the fall afternoon with Mexican favorites and keeping the participants and referees fueled and ready to roll. In the spirit of giving back, the popular traveling Taco company gave their day's proceeds back to the participating charities! Wow!

The Tournament is sponsored by the Branchville Civic Association (BCA).  The charitable organization is comprised of three generations of local Branchville families, and is best known as the proprietor and caretaker of the Branchville Civic baseball field, which was built by the founding members in 1946.    

Bocce is played by throwing a small ball, called a pallino, onto the court. Players then bowl larger balls toward the pallino to see who can get the closest. It can be played in teams, as in the tournament, or one-on-one.  The game requires strategy and accuracy but can be enjoyed by players of all ages and athletic abilities.

Ancona explains, “The bocce tournament is a culmination of the traditional Ancona business objective,” said Ancona.  “Focus on family, community, and charity – with a good dose of fun."

]]> (HH) Neighbors Sun, 14 Oct 2018 09:26:23 -0400
Plane Crashes After Taking Off from Danbury Airport

The Connecticut Post reports that one dead body was recovered near Quogue, NY, after a plane that took off out of the Waterbury-Oxford Airport and made a stop at Danbury Municipal Airport crashed Saturday off the Long Island coast in the Hamptons. 

According to multiple media sources, late yesterday morning, October 13, personnel at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound were told by Southampton police that a twin-engine Piper PA-34 crashed into the water about 1 mile south of Quogue. Crews found debris and an oil sheen on the water near the reported crash site.

The search continues for two additional passengers. The identity of the deceased passenger has not been revealed.

Read the complete story in the Connecticut Post here.

]]> (Kerry Anne Ducey) Public safety Sun, 14 Oct 2018 08:25:02 -0400
Annual Harvest Festival at New Pond Farm Tomorrow!

Annual Harvest Festival at New Pond Farm on Saturday, October 13 from 11am – 4pm

New Pond Farm's Harvest Festival is a fall favorite in Connecticut! Step back in time and enjoy a beautiful day on the Farm! 

Historical Demonstrations:
Antique Tools, Make & Brake Engines, Open Hearth Cooking, Rope Making, Kettle Corn Popping

Livestock Encounters:
– Take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the pasture with a team of majestic Percherons
– Enjoy the farm’s own dairy cows and calves
– Watch our Romney Sheep get their fall shearing and buy beautiful yarns from last years fleece, and more.

Harvest Crafts to Bring Home:
Decorate a pumpkin, roll a beeswax candle, create a grapevine wreath, design an apple print bandana, make a gourd creature, and MORE!

Special Guest:
Live Crocodiles, Alligators and Tortoises, Oh My! Have you ever wanted to meet and touch a live crocodile or alligator? Spend an unforgettable afternoon with dynamic conservation educator and herpetologist Michael Ralbovsky.

Michael travels across the country introducing students of all ages to the marvels and mysteries of ancient reptiles. He will introduce us to an awesome group of live crocodilians. Michael serves as a consultant for zoological parks across the country, and provides animals for television, working with shows on the Discovery Channel and the Animal Planet, including Jeff Corwin’s Animal Quest. Michael’s love and respect for reptiles are infectious – come and be amazed!

* If all seats fill, Michael will offer a second show at 3 p.m.

Enjoy delicious seasonal fare and farm fresh milk!

Please check back as the day gets closer for a more detailed list of activities and guests

Need Directions? Please click here

(Rain Date: Sunday, October 14, 1-4pm)

$5 per person (over 3 years old) or $20 per family
There will be small additional fees to cover the costs of craft materials

No Reservations Required

]]> (New Pond Farm) Events Fri, 12 Oct 2018 11:09:00 -0400
Redding Paper Shredding Day on Saturday

Town of Redding Residential Paper Shredding Day on Saturday, October 13 at Redding Recycling Center (84 Hopewell Woods Road, GPS 92 Beck Rd) from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.

WINTERS BROS Mobile shredder will cross shred documents while you watch!

Samples: Old papers, Receipts, Bank statements, Tax returns, Checks, Paper medical records etc.… (No x-rays), Staples and Paper Clips OK Binder Clips and File hangers are NOT OK.

Free to all residents of Redding! Proof of residency required i.e. license.

Please note: there is a limit of 5 file boxes. 

]]> (Town of Redding) Events Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:35:08 -0400
DEEP and AAA Urge Motorists to Watch for Deer and Moose This Fall

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and AAA remind motorists to be watchful of increased deer and moose activity along roadways, especially during early morning and evening hours.

Fall is the peak of the breeding season for Connecticut's moose population in the northern part of the state. The breeding season (also known as "the rut") for white-tailed deer closely follows the moose breeding season, running from late October through late December.

DEEP’s Wildlife Division says motorists should be aware of and heed "Deer Crossing" signs along state highways. Motorists are advised to slow down and drive defensively should a deer or moose be spotted on or by the road. Because moose are darker in color and stand much higher than deer, observing reflective eye-shine from headlights is infrequent and, when struck, moose often end up impacting the windshield of vehicles. All moose and deer vehicle collisions should be reported to local, state, or DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Officers (860-424-3333).

According to the DEEP, there were more than 4,000 deer strikes in Connecticut last year, though most go unreported.

"During 2017, approximately 4,122 deer were killed in the state due to collisions with vehicles, which is down considerably from 10 years ago," said Andrew LaBonte, Deer Program Biologist for the DEEP Wildlife Division. "While the number of collisions has fallen over the past 10 years motorists should remain vigilant this time of year as to the presence of deer near roadways."

"Hitting a deer can be costly, even fatal" says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. "According to UConn Crash Data, deer strikes resulted in a driver’s death last year and the year before."

According to the latest DEEP data Glastonbury had the greatest number of reported deer strikes.

"The fact that the greatest number of reported deer strikes was in Glastonbury clearly illustrates that where deer and drivers intersect, there’s a greater risk to both", Parmenter says.

In the event of a collision with an animal, AAA recommends:

· Following the collision, call the police.

· Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened or wounded animal can hurt you or further injure itself.

· Put the vehicle’s hazard lights on; whether it’s light or dark outside.

· If possible, immediately move the vehicle to a safe location, out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive. Your safety and the safety of your passengers is most important.

· Contact your insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car. Collision with a deer or other animals is covered under the comprehensive portion of your automobile policy.

AAA has some tips to help prevent a crash or to reduce damage from an animal collision:

· Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.

· Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely crash is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.

· Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.

· Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.

· Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.

· Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals when going around curves.

· One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.

· Resist the urge to swerve: Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.

· If the crash is imminent take your foot off the brake: during hard braking the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards your windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.

· Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.

· Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it.Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.

While rare, moose strikes do occasionally occur in Connecticut, and because of their size can result in significant damage to a vehicle.

"Over 40 moose-vehicle accidents have been reported in Connecticut between 1995 and 2017, with an average of two per year since 2002,"said LaBonte. "One moose-vehicle accident was recently reported in late September on Route 20 in Hartland, where the majority of the moose-vehicle accidents have been reported over the years."

Most of Connecticut is not considered ideal habitat for moose because the state’s landscape is fragmented, roadways have high traffic volume, and moose have large home ranges (approximately 10-15 square miles). Moose venturing into southern Connecticut, with high population density, road networks, and traffic volumes, pose an increased potential for human fatalities from accidents as compared to deer-vehicle accidents. Residents throughout the state are encouraged to report moose sightings on the DEEP website at

]]> (CT DEEP) Public safety Thu, 11 Oct 2018 15:45:32 -0400
Paving on Route 58 in Redding Postponed

Redding Travel Alert

The CT DOT has informed the Highway Department that paving of Rt. 58 has been postponed until the week of October 15, 2018. 

]]> (Town of Redding) Places Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:23:33 -0400
The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, The Ridgefield Library, The Ridgefield Playhouse and Ridgefield Theater Barn

Will Host Screenings and Special Events During the Festival’s Four-Day Run, October 18-21, 2018

The 2018 Ridgefield Independent Film Festival, (RIFF), who’s committed to showcasing independent films that enlighten, entertain and inspire moviegoers through compelling visual storytelling, revealed its lineup of feature films and shorts. This year’s festival presents an impressive selection of 103 independent films from 20 countries around the world. Films featured in the festival run the gamut from thought-provoking documentaries, compelling dramas and comedies by emerging and seasoned filmmakers, to engaging and innovative shorts, animation, and family-friendly programming. Tickets to the festival are on sale now at The 2018 Ridgefield Independent Film Festival runs October 18-21, 2018.

“RIFF 2018 has been reimagined and programmed as a film-lover’s festival with something for everyone,” says RIFF Festival Director Megan Smith-Harris. “This year we have an incredibly strong documentary slate—dramatically paced, issue-oriented films that are destined to ignite thoughtful conversation during post-screening filmmaker Q&As. Equally compelling are our range of narrative features, several which are debut features by exciting new filmmakers. RIFF is committed to nurturing the talents of the next generation of filmmakers not only by showcasing and championing their work but also by offering cash awards in every genre category. We wouldn’t have a film festival if it weren’t for the dedication and creativity of the filmmakers so we want to treat them royally and make sure they keep coming back!”

Eighteen feature documentaries, 13 narratives and 72 shorts will make their Connecticut debut over the course of the 4-day festival. The program also offers themed film events taking place throughout the festival. PSYCH NIGHT showcases an array of mind-bending programming with a 90-minute block of shorts ranging from psychological thriller to campy horror and surreal to sci-fi. The evening culminates with the East Coast Premiere of High Resolution, the debut feature by up-and-coming filmmaker Jason Lester based on the recent cult novel, Tai Pei. ALT NIGHT features edgier fare dealing with personal identity, dysfunctional relationships, and sexuality. Also on PSYCH NIGHT is a searing film from the Netherlands, Find This Dumb Little Bitch and Throw Her Into a River based on real events that unfolded on YouTube. OH CANADA showcases films by Canadian filmmakers, notably Mary Goes Round by Molly McGlynn about a substance abuse counselor with a substance abuse problem, and The Guardians by Tessa Moran & Ben Crosbie a documentary about an indigenous community in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve that must confront internal divisions and illegal loggers to recover the ancient forest they nearly destroyed; COMEDY FEST presents a curated selection of some of the best comedy shorts from around the world; FAMILY FRIENDLY SHORTS spotlights animated shorts and films that both kids and their parents will enjoy.

The 2018 film selections are listed below. For screening dates, times and locations click here to access the 2018 RIFF Film Guide.


2030, directed by Johnny Boston.(103 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Johnny Boston was 10 years old when he first met FM-2030, a futurist who intended to live forever. But in 2000, after his body ceased to function, FM was cryonically preserved. Sixteen years later, an unexpected call places FM’s future in Johnny’s hands. Featured in the documentary are author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil; science and technology advocate, engineer and inventor Dean Kamen; biomedical gerontologist and Chief Science Officer of SENS Research Foundation Aubrey de Grey and more. *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee.

After the film: A conversation with Director Johnny Boston.

Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise directed by Jennifer Townsend. (88 minutes |2016| USA)Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise takes the viewer on a dramatic and exciting ride beginning with Thelma and Louise taking off for the weekend and continuing until they fly off the cliff at the end. Clips from the original film serve as a catalyst for intimate, personal stories of women’s experience in the real world. Our guides on this journey are filmgoers who responded to a survey about the iconic ‘mother film’ 26 years ago. Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise enriches the viewer’s appreciation of the reasons behind Thelma & Louise’s hold on popular culture. Catching Sight of Thelma & LouiseTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Jennifer Townsend.

Concerto directed by Christina Cassidy. (74 minutes |2017| USA) – Concerto is about two talented and accomplished brothers who were raised by a brilliant but highly disturbed father. It provides a rare glimpse into the lives of two artists as they look back on the ghosts of their past, and highlights the struggles that young, gifted children must often endure at the hands of demanding parents. Christopher Rex is the principal cellist of the Atlanta Symphony, Artistic Director of the world-renowned Amelia Island Chamber Orchestra Festival, and the Principal Cello Chair at Mercer College, in Macon, Georgia. Charles Gordon Rex, Jr., is a first violinist with the New York Philharmonic, and performs as a soloist with orchestras across the country. Concerto includes interviews with renowned musical director Zubin Mehta and world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and friends and family of the Rex brothers. ConcertoTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Christina Cassidy and musician Charles Rex.

Danseur directed by Scott Gormley. (70 minutes |2018| USA) – Enter any dance studio in the United States and the classes will be brimming with little bunheads dreaming of crossing the stage at Lincoln Center. But you will be hard pressed to find a single boy among them. In Danseur we will explore why in a country that strives for gender equality, where young women are encouraged to cross the gender barrier and participate in male-dominated fields, especially by their parents, does this disparity exist? Why is it more socially acceptable for parents (fathers, in particular) to encourage their sons to participate in all other physical pursuits (ie: sports, fitness) but not the ballet? A recent survey revealed that nearly 95% of male ballet dancers stated that they faced physical or verbal attacks because of dance. Breathtaking dance footage combined with intimate interviews. Danseur Trailer

SPECIAL EVENT - After the film: A conversation with Director Scott Gormley and danseur Alexander Charles, who studied

ballet at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance PLUS a Dance After Party at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance

Dawnlanddirected by Adam Mazo. (86 minutes |2018| USA) – A story of stolen children and cultural survival; inside the first truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans.

After the film: Q&A with Senior Advisor Chris Newell of Mashantucket, CT


For the Birdsdirected by Richard Mirron.(92 minutes |2018| UK) – A woman’s love for her pet ducks, chickens, geese, and turkeys—all 200 of them—ignites a battle with local animal rescuers and puts her marriage in jeopardy.

From Seed to Seeddirected by Katharina Stieffenhofer. (86 minutes |2017| USA) – When Terry and Monique left the opera to pursue their true passion—ecological farming—their story of community and resilience took center stage. We follow their young family and a diverse group of farmers and scientists as they blend age-old traditions with cutting edge science to develop improved methods for growing food ecologically and in a changing climate.

After the film: Q&A with filmmaker Katharina Stieffenhofer

Intelligent Livesdirected by Dan Habib.(70 minutes |2018| USA) – From award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib comes Intelligent Lives, a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America. Intelligent Lives Trailer

After the film: A Skype Q&A with filmmaker Dan Habib.

CLOSING FESTIVAL FILM: Purple Dreams directed by Joanne Hock. (72 minutes |2017| USA) – Purple Dreams reveals an extraordinary ARTS in Education success story. This inspirational documentary shadows six at-risk black high school students on an emotionally powerful three-year journey of transformation in a racially biased City. With access to the Arts and academic mentors, our at-risk youth have the potential to break the cycle of poverty in a single generation. These students struggle with homelessness, low-income neighborhoods, gang-related violence and single parent households as they further their education with a triumphant musical production that propels them into a world of opportunity they never expected. PURPLE DREAMS Trailer

SPECIAL EVENT - After the film: A conversation with Executive Producer Robin Grey along with Purple Dreams documentary subjects

Theater Arts teacher Corey Mitchell and dancer Javontre Booker moderated by Tony Award-winning actor/arts activist James Naughton.


Rise of the Warrior Apes directed by James Reed. (82 minutes |2016 |UK) – This documentary tells the epic, 20-year story of an indomitable chimpanzee troop in Uganda. With a population three times larger than any other known to science, the incomparable success of the Ngogo chimps has been shrouded in mystery for decades. Through the extraordinary lives of a handful of individual chimp characters we experience a political drama and bloody conflict that unfolds deep in the African jungle. Using previously unseen archival footage, witness testimony from the scientists who have lived alongside them since the study began in 1993, the film chronicles the rise of a true chimpanzee empire. It is a story of unbreakable friendship, fierce rivalry, and unparalleled ambition

After the film: A conversation with cinematographer and documentary subject Bill Wallauer.

SAY HER NAME: The Life and Death of Sandra Blanddirected by David Heilbroner and Kate Davis. (105 minutes | 2018 |USA) – In 2015, Sandra Bland, a politically active 28-year-old black woman from Chicago was arrested for a traffic violation in a small Texas town. Three days later, Sandra was found hanging from a noose in her jail cell. Though ruled a suicide, her death sparked allegations of racially-motivated police murder and Sandra became a poster child for activists nationwide, leaving millions to question, “What really happened to Sandra Bland?” SAY HER NAME: The Life & Death of Sandra BlandTrailer

SPECIAL EVENT Sponsored by Sacred Heart University

After the film: A conversation with Oscar-nominated, Connecticut based Directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner,

and Sandra Bland’s sisters Sharon Cooper andShanté Needham.

The Devil We Knowdirected by Stephanie Soechtig.(95 minutes | 2018 |USA) –When a handful of West Virginia residents discover DuPont has been pumping its poisonous Teflon chemical into the air and public water supply of more than 70,000 people, they file one of the largest class action lawsuits in the history of environmental law. As the citizens of Parkersburg rise up against the forces that polluted their town, the story builds out to dozens of other American cities. In fact, as many as 110 million Americans may be drinking water tainted with PFAS chemicals. Exposure to this class of chemicals has even become a global phenomenon, spreading to places like Italy, the Netherlands, and China. Parkersburg is ground zero for this story, but this clearly is not about one place or one chemical: because of the power of the chemical lobby, PFOA is one of more than 80,000+ untested chemicals that have been approved for use, their dangers unknown. The Devil We Know Trailer

(**NOTE: There are TWO docs with the same name!)

The Guardiansdirected by Tessa Moran & Ben Crosbie.(70 minutes | 2018 |USA) –An indigenous community in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve must confront internal divisions and illegal loggers to recover the ancient forest they nearly destroyed. Like the millions of monarchs that also call this forest home, their survival depends on it.

The Guardiansdirected by Billie Mintz.(104 minutes |2018 |Canada) –The Guardians exposes predatory laws in Nevada that allow vulnerable seniors to be kidnapped from their homes and have their assets ceased. Also 14 animated, dramatic, and comedy shorts on a wide range of topics.

After the film: A conversation with Director Billie Mintz.

The Limits of My Worlddirected by Heather Cassano. (70 minutes | 2017 |USA) – The film follows a nonverbal young man’s transition from the school system into adulthood. Brian has autism and faces the daily challenges of adjusting to his new life. Filmed from the intimate perspective of his older sister, filmmaker Heather Cassano, this documentary seeks to understand Brian’s personality beneath his disability. The Limits of My World is an autistic coming of age story, exploring what it means to be a nonverbal disabled person in a neuro-typical society. The Limits of My World Trailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Heather Cassano.

This is Home: A Refugee Story directed by Alexandra Shiva. (92 minutes |2018|USA) –This film is an intimate portrait of four Syrian refugee families arriving in America and struggling to find their footing. Displaced from their homes and separated from loved ones, they are given eight months of assistance from the International Rescue Committee to become self-sufficient. As they learn to adapt to challenges, including the newly imposed travel ban, their strength and resilience are tested. After surviving the traumas of war, the families arrive in Baltimore, Maryland and are met with a whole new set of challenges. They attend cultural orientation classes and job training sessions where they must “learn America” – everything from how to take public transportation to negotiating new gender roles. This is Home: A Refugee Story goes beyond the statistics, headlines, and political rhetoric to tell deeply personal stories, putting a human face on the global refugee crisis. THIS IS HOME: A Refugee Story Trailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Alexandra Shiva Cinematographer Laela Kilbourn,Chirs George Executive Director of IRIS,

and an IRIS Refugee Ambassador (a refugee recently resettled in Connecticut)

Tre Maison Dasandirected by Denali Tiller. (94 minutes |2017|USA) – Tre Maison Dasan is an intimate portrait of three boys growing up, each with a parent in prison. Directly told through the child’s perspective, the film is an exploration of relationships and separation, masculinity, and the added complexities of coming of age in America when a parent is behind bars. Tre is a tough 13-year-old who hides his emotions behind a mask of tough talk and hard edges. Maison is a bright eyed 11-year-old whose Asperger’s is present through his encyclopedic mind and deep love for those around him. Dasan is a sensitive 6-year-old with an incredible capacity for empathy and curiosity. Their parents are not incarcerated for the low-level offenses that have become well known in conversations around mass-incarceration, but their histories and relationships beg many questions about justice, and the lasting and rippling effects of a system at large. *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee. Tre Maison Dasan Trailer

After the film: A conversation with Producer Rebecca Stern and Stephanie and Dasan Lopes,

the mother and son featured in Tre Maison Dasan.

Vermont Fancydirected by Kathleen Dougherty Huxley. (50 minutes |2018 |USA) – Candid and articulate, Doug Densmore is a single farmer in rural Vermont, struggling with the consequences of his choice of lifestyle and the existential problem of what happens in the future as he ages and faces losing the ability to maintain his farm. Vermont Fancy Trailer

SPECIAL EVENT - After the film: A conversation with Director Kathleen Dougherty Huxley and documentary subject, Doug Densmore.  A post-screening Pancake Breakfast will be served to ticket holders with Vermont Fancy Maple Syrup courtesy of Doug Densmore at the Ridgefield Playhouse.


Are You Glad I’m Here directed by Noor Gharzeddine. (85 minutes | 2018 |Lebanon/USA) – A millennial American girl befriends a Lebanese housewife and disrupts her ordered life; one night they become accidental partners-in-crime. *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee. Are You Glad I’m HereTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Noor Gharzeddine.

Beauty Markdirected by Harris Doran. (87 minutes | 2017 | USA) – An empowering story inspired by true events, Beauty Mark follows a poverty-stricken young mother who is forced to move when her house is condemned. With no money and no options, she must confront her abusive past to save her family. Beauty Mark Trailer

Beyond the Riverdirected by Craig Freimond. (61 minutes | 2017 | South Africa) – Duma is a talented young man who feels trapped by his surroundings and finds himself on the wrong side of the law. After a near miss with the cops, he finds an escape in the world of canoeing, an old passion. Steve is a nine-time Dusi gold medalist whose marriage is on the verge of collapse. His passion for the sport is fueled by his wanting to escape from something in his past that continues to haunt him. The two men find themselves attempting the three-day Dusi Canoe Marathon as a doubles pair. But, there are a few things they must overcome not least of which are the completely different worlds they come from. To realize their dream, they must work together both in the boat and beyond the river. Inspired by the true story of Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks, who together won gold in the 2014 Dusi.

Dad Is Pretty directed by Park-soo-min & Kim seung-hyeob. (92 minutes | 2017 | Republic of Korea) – Duk-jae is being overlooked at his marketing job and sublimates his unhappiness by getting drunk after work. His boss tells him he’ll be fired if he doesn’t land a contract renewal for Club Hawaii, an establishment where men come to cross-dress in a safe and fun environment. The club owner is willing to renew the contract but only on one condition: that Duk-jae participate to get into the mindset of the membership. *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee.

Find This Dumb Little Bitch and Throw Her Into a River directed by Ben Brand. (Narrative Feature | 87 minutes | 20178 |The Netherlands) – In 2010, a teenage girl in Bosnia was filmed throwing live puppies into a fast-flowing river. The video, which was shot by her older brother and uploaded onto his YouTube page, quickly went viral and sparked outrage around the world. Find This Dumb Little Bitch and Throw Her Into a River Trailer

High Resolutiondirected by Jason Lester.(96 minutes | 2018 |USA) In this adaptation of Tao Lin’s beloved cult novel Taipei, Erin is swept into the world of Paul Chen, a mysterious, charismatic author, who proposes documenting every aspect of their courtship in an epic laptop-filmed “documentary.” *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee.

After the film: A conversation with Director Jason Lester.

Mary Goes Rounddirected by Molly McGlynn.  (84 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – When a substance abuse counsellor gets arrested for a DUI and returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls, she learns that her estranged father is dying of cancer and wants her to form a bond with her teenaged half-sister that she’s never met. *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee. Mary Goes RoundTrailer

Nosotrosdirected by Felipe Vara de Rey. (93 minutes | 2017 | Spain) –  Nosotros follows a group of five friends during the weekend of the Spanish presidential election held in December 2015, probably the most important one in Spain’s recent history due to the deep political and financial crisis in Southern Europe. Our five protagonists are in a crucial moment in their lives; as Spain decides its future, all of them will have to make a decision that could shake the grounds on which they are building their existence.

The California Nodirected by Ned Ehrbar.(84 minutes | 2017 | USA) – A listless Angeleno discovers he's in an open marriage. *A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee. The California No Trailer

After the film: A conversation with director Ned Ehrbar

The Divine Order directed by Petra Biondina Volpe. (96 minutes | 2017 | Switzerland) – The Divine Order is set in Switzerland in 1971 where, despite the worldwide social upheavals of the previous decade, women were still denied the right to vote. When unassuming and dutiful housewife Nora is forbidden by her husband to take a part-time job, her frustration leads to her becoming the poster child of her town’s suffragette movement. Her newfound celebrity brings humiliation, threats, and the potential end to her marriage, but, refusing to back down, she convinces the women in her village to go on strike...and makes a few startling discoveries about her own liberation. Uplifting and crowd-pleasing, this charming, captivating film is a time-capsule that could not be timelier. The Divine Order Trailer

Wake. directed by Cyrus Mirakhor. (94 minutes | 2018 | USA) – A widowed mortician, struggling with agoraphobia, is given a birthday gift from her mother and daughter as a joke. The gift, a life-size male doll named Pedro, goes from funny to fantastical, complicating her ties with her family as well as a budding relationship with a documentary filmmaker.

OPENING NIGHT FILM:Wildlife directed by Paul Dano. (104 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Fourteen-year-old Joe is the only child of Jeanette and Jerry—a housewife and a golf pro—in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job—and his sense of purpose—he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother’s struggle as she tries to keep her head above water. Wildlife stars Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbourgh and Bill Camp. WildlifeTrailer

After the film: A Prosecco & Dessert Reception in the lobby of the Ridgefield Playhouse


All is Not Lost directed by Natalie Gee Cyrus. (16 minutes | 2018 | USA) – A quirky dramedy about the highs and lows of senior age, illness and how rivalry exists at any stage in the game. Growing old is compulsory, but growing up is not. All is Not LostTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Natalie Gee.

Fragments directed by Christina YR Jun.(13 minutes | 2016 | USA) – When a struggling single mother and recovering addict finds herself in need of a lifeline, she discovers that her only source of solace may be her old demons. *Student Film.


Good to the Last Drop directed by Joanne Hudson.(8 minutes | 2017 | USA) – A man returns to his cabin for the end of the world.

After the film: A conversation with filmmaker Joanne Hudson.

Knuckles directed by Laura Groombridge. (9 minutes | 2017 | Australia) – A man tangled in the violent criminal world of bare knuckle fighting pursues a misguided attempt at redemption.

Peggie directed by Rosario Capozzolo. (10 minutes | 2017 | Italy) –  Inspired by true events, the film addresses the theme of dementia to travel through time. A special gift has Peggie, on a quiet California afternoon, moving from one room to another in her home, crossing different epochs of her life. Only one person, who is apparently a stranger to her, will pull her back and bring her home. Like every day for the last ten years.

The Absent City directed by Iulia Enkelana.(9 minutes | 2018 | Romania) – 'The place where I come from doesn’t wait for anyone. (...) It’s a mixture of violence and beauty.' *Student Film.

The Door directed by Reem Morsi.(20 minutes | 2016 | Canada) – The Door follows a Syrian refugee family who moves to Canada after suffering a terrible loss. Each of the family members grieves the loss in their own way; Hashem, an eight-year-old goes mute, his grandmother silently grieves the loss of her country and daughter by staying in bed, while his father suppresses his grief to be strong and support his family. While Hashem and his grandmother face the loss in their own unique way, the father's repressed trauma starts to take over his life and haunt him and his family in ways he can't escape.

The Wave directed by Alicia Rose.(7 minutes | 2016 | Australia) – The Wave is a romantic comedy about a woman with a pet hate who meets the perfect man under unfortunate circumstances. Alex and Marcus were destined to meet...just not in the way they had intended. But they are proof that when love matters most, honesty sometimes doesn't. Alex learns that finding the perfect man (and traffic) can drive you to do crazy things.

Two Strangers Five Times directed by Marcus Markou. (12 minutes | 2018 | Greece) – Alistair and Samir meet five different times, but it is only when the meet as old men that they can finally put their prejudices aside and meet as friends. This film champions friendship and compassion over separation and distrust.


59 Moroccan Seconds directed by David Helfer Wells.(1 minute | 2018 | USA) – A quick and dazzling series of intense time-lapse animations add up to a 59 second movie giving the viewer a sample of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Morocco.

3000 Miles directed by Sean Wang.(5 minutes | 2017 | USA) – On July 5th, 2016, Sean Wang moved across the country to work and live in New York City for one year. This is a personal documentary of his year, chronicled by voicemails left by his mom.

Cat’s Cradle directed by Jonathan Napolitano.(12 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Shortly after retiring, Bruce and Terry Jenkins of Lutz, FL, transformed their 1920’s farmhouse into a hospice and senior living facility for cats.

Empire of Main Street directed by Jessica Congdon.(24 minutes | 2018 | USA) – A tireless entrepreneur jump-starts the transformation of a neglected vacation town, until her ambition pushes her to the brink. Empire on Main Street Trailer

Family Rewritten directed by Yasmin Mistry.(14 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Despite battling Cystic Fibrosis, Camilla, age 16, identified as a typical middle-class American teenager until the thread that held her family together suddenly snapped. Just months before her 18th birthday Camilla found herself in foster care, but instead of feeling ashamed, she made a conscious decision to not let the situation define her. Family RewrittenTrailer

John Hemmer & The Show Girls directed by Kirsten Larvick.(35 minutes | 2017 | USA) In this intimate portrait, a one-time entertainer reflects on the heyday of America’s nightclub era with his band of showgirls and performers as they share histories and consider the rigors and rewards of growing older. Despite life’s challenges, Hemmer, along with his showgirls, resurrect the Latin Quarter’s legacy and discover a new purpose along the way.

After the film: A conversation with Director Kersten Lavrick.

Orchard House: Home of Little Women directed by Jan Turnquist. (27 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Viewers are transported to a 350-year-old home in Concord, Massachusetts with an American literary pedigree unlike any other. It is here at Orchard House that the classic novel Little Women was written and set. With literary giants such as Ralph Wald Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne as neighbors and friends, this unique home inspired Louisa May Alcott to write a book that has never been out of print. Little Women has been translated into over 50 languages, taught in schools worldwide, and has redefined American literature. Orchard House: Home of Little WomenTrailer.

After the film: A conversation with Director Jan Turnquist and Executive Producer Justin King.

The King directed by Aleksander Krzystyniak. (10 minutes | 2018 | Poland) – In this speeding like an express train world, seemingly outlandish pacifist but in silence he shows what is the most precious in life. And he's doing it in paradise, where he is king of the world, his own world.

Trap Fishing directed by David Helfer Wells. (7 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Meet the Wheelers, one of the last remaining trap fishing families in Rhode IslandLearn the art of trap fishing and what it takes to make a living on the water.

Unwelcome directed by Ida Theresa Myklebost. (15 minutes | 2017 | USA) – In Unwelcome we meet six-year old Menwar, who lives in a tent at a gas station in Greece. He and his family fled the bloody conflict in Syria, hoping to start a new life. But when they finally reached Europe, they found a continent that did not want them; a continent that had closed its borders. With heartwarming moments and humor, Unwelcome offers a unique invitation into the lives of these children who so violently have been forced to flee their homes. UnwelcomeTrailer 

After the film: A conversation with filmmaker Theresa Myklebost


Agua Vivabydirector and animator Alexa Lim Haas. (7 minutes | 2018 | USA) – A Chinese manicurist in Miami attempts to describe feelings she doesn't have the words for.

Disillusionment of the 10 PT Font directed by Greg Condon. (1 minute | 2017 | USA) – A collection of playfully animated words, created on a typewriter.

In a Nutshell bydirector and animator Fabio Friedli. (6 minutes | 2017 | Italy) – From a seed to war, from meat to love, from indifference to apocalypse. An attempt to capture the world in a nutshell.

Labyrinth bydirectors Stepan Koval & Oleksandr Kolodii. (8 minutes | 2017 | Ukraine) – What about the labyrinth, except that it is a labyrinth? LabyrinthTrailer

Late Afternoon directed by Louise Bagnall. (10 minutes | 2017 | Ireland) – Award-winning animated film. Emily finds herself disconnected from the world around her. She drifts back through her memories to relive different moments from her life. Emily must look to her past so that she may fully connect with the present. Late Afternoon Trailer

Surprise directed by Paulo Patricio. (9 minutes | 2017 | Portugal) – Award-winning animated film. A short experimental/documental animation based on a real conversation between a mother and her 3-year-old daughter that recovers from a cancer. While the daughter draws memories from the treatment, the conversation wanders into shadows and light, following the unsettled thread of affections, of disease, of love bonding mother and daughter, of life.

The Driver is Red directed by Randall Christopher. (15 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Award-winning animated documentary. Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary follows the story of secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunted down one of the highest ranking Nazi war criminals on the run. The Driver is RedTrailer

The Flight directed by Alain Bidard. (4 minutes | 2018 | Martinique) – The psychological journey of a climate refugee who lost his house and his entire family during hurricane Maria. This is the story of his journey from the darkness back to the light.


Two Balloons directed by Mark C. Smith. (9 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Award-winning animated film. Two adventurous lemurs navigate their dirigibles halfway around the world to a place where happenstance and fate threaten to disrupt their reunion



Friday, October 19, 2018

Time: 7:00- 9:00PM

Just in time for Halloween, an evening showcasing an array of mind-bending programming with a 90-minute block of shorts ranging from psychological thrillers to campy horror; and from sci-fi to surreal.

Cat Noir (Animated Short | 5 minutes | 2018 | Switzerland) – A letter, a broken heart. The sound of the rain. A black cat, a plan.**Student Film. Cat Noir Trailer

Real Artists directed by Cameo Wood. (Narrative Short | 12 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Against all odds, Sophia Baker just scored her dream interview at the world-famous Semaphore Animation Studios -- who’d have thought a fan edit of one of their hit films could land her a shot at a job? But when she meets arch, mysterious executive Anne Palladon, she soon learns all is not as she expects behind the curtain. Every instinct Sophia has ever had about art in filmmaking is about to be challenged. Based on Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning author Ken Liu’s short story of the same name, Real Artists asks a poignant question: In a dystopian near-future where big data, AI and natural language processing learn and create quickly and at massive scale, what role can a single artist play? Is Sophia a creative rebel who can make a difference? Or is the situation more serious than that? Real Artists Trailer

Garden Partydirected by Théophile Dufresne, Florian Babikian, Gabriel Grapperon, Lucas Navarro, Vincent Bayoux, Victor Caire.  (Animated Short | 7 minutes | 2016 | France) – In a deserted rich house, a couple of amphibians explore their surroundings and follow their primal instinct. Garden Party Trailer

Gotasdirected by Sergio Morcillo.(Narrative Short-Horror | 15 minutes | 2018 | Spain) – Marta is a teenager whose parents died two years ago. One night, while alone at home, she will discover the truth about the pain that is tormenting her. Graphic Images

Heat Deathdirected by Ellie Larkin. (Animated Short | 2 minutes | 2017 | UK) – An experimental stop-motion about climate change deniers, and us if we listen to them. Set in the far-off future after we’re dead and gone, some of our fossils are still repeating the same old things. **Student Film

Perfect Towndirected by Anaïs Voirol.(Animated Short | 5 minutes | 2017 | Switzerland) – In search of perfection a whole city obeys to selection. A constant struggle. Trying and trying again. Where is the difference between endurance and madness? **Student Film

Future Selfdirected by Sean Lewis.(Narrative Short-Sci-Fi/Horror | 7 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Jeffrey has a crush on Teegan. Teegan doesn't know who Jeffrey is. Luckily, VHS tapes keep showing up in the local mini-libraries around town to tell Jeffrey how to change that fact, for better or worse.

Taste the Spiderdirected by Brian Dorrington.(Narrative Short-Campy /Horror | 12 minutes | 2018 | USA) – A young couple’s relationship is poisoned when a spider invades their home.

After the film: A conversation with Director Brian Dorrington.

The Merciless Beauty directed by Michael Groom.(Narrative Short-Ghost Story | 14 minutes | 2017 | UK) – Johnny is a farmhand in the splendor of the English Lake District: he leads a life of introspection, until the strange appearance of a mysterious beautiful woman. Unsure if she's a figment of his imagination or an actual physical being, Johnny succumbs to obsession. A sensuous, timeless tale of love, infatuation, lust and the all- consuming bittersweet melancholy of suffering and heartache, based on the narrative poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats.

After the film: A conversation with Director Michael Groom.

Disco Babydirected by Katie Falk. (Animated Short | 3 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Communicating with others is hard! Especially if you don’t exist on the same spectral plane. Can you be friends with someone who likes different music than you? Or who died in 1978? Disco Baby, a coming of age stop motion ghost story, answers these questions and more. *Student Film

Milkdirected by Santiago Menghini. (Narrative Short-Horror | 9 minutes | 2018 | USA) – On a late night, a young teen goes into the kitchen for a glass of milk. Upon encountering his sleepless mother, he quickly realizes things are not as they seem.

The Quarrydirected by Eddie Kagutuzi. (Narrative Short-Sureal/Experimental | 8 minutes | 2018 | Uganda) – It could be the dawn of time, or the end of time. The Quarry Trailer

The Replacementdirected by Sean Miller. (Narrative Short-Sci-Fi | 15 minutes | 2017 | USA) – On election night, a janitor feels cheated out of a life he might have lived when his own clone becomes the President. He goes on a bender to seek justice, encountering new forms of prejudice, dismissal, and classism. In a society where the morality around cloning is dividing the masses, physically looking like the newly elected President has its own dangers. The Replacement Trailer

High Resolutiondirected by Jason Lester.(96 minutes | 2018 |USA) In this adaptation of Tao Lin’s beloved cult novel Taipei, Erin is swept into the world of Paul Chen, a mysterious, charismatic author, who proposes documenting every aspect of their courtship in an epic laptop-filmed “documentary.” **A Joe Consentino Emerging Filmmaker Award Nominee.

After the film: A conversation with Director Jason Lester.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: 1:30- 3:00PM

An afternoon spotlighting animated shorts and films that will appeal to children and their parents alike.

The Cook & The Chef directed and animated by Andre Sitolini. (Animated Short | 6 minutes | 2018 | Canada) – In a town famous for their popular master chef, a young cook competes against him to prove his worth.*Student Film.

Wild Ice Backcountry Skatingproduced by Cale Green and Paxson Woelber. (Documentary Short | 3 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – Backcountry skating is the practice of hunting for wild ice, whether on a river, lake, glacial lagoon, or inside an ice cave. Stunning cinematography filmed in south central and southeast Alaska over the course of two winters Wild Ice Backcountry Skating features Nordic bladers, hockey players, and figure skaters. Locations include Kenai Lake, the Portage Lagoons, Turnagain Arm, Wasilla Lake, Sheridan Glacier, Byron Glacier, and Portage Glacier.

Krasnoludki directed and animated by Roman Burnakov. (Animated Short | 5 minutes | 2018 | Belarus) – A boy’s toy is broken and krasnoludki (small elves) living in his house secretly help him.

Girls Level Up directed and animated by Anne Edgar. (Documentary Short | 10 minutes | 2017 | USA) – An inspiring voice in the conversation about the future of women in the video game industry, Girls Level Up, profiles a “Girls Make Games” summer camp where girls are given three weeks to make their own video game demo. Camp founder Laila Shabir, who grew up in a conservative Muslim neighborhood in the Middle East before coming to the United States, provides a unique perspective on the challenges facing girls who love video games and dream of making them.

Undiscovered directed by Sara Litzenberger. (Animated Short | 3 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Undiscovered explores the real reason there are no good photos of Sasquatch--not because he's secretive, but because he's un-photogenic. His attempts to jump into a photo before scaring away the hikers who are taking them are thwarted by the usual suspects--food in his teeth, closed eyes, mussed-up hair, an out-of-focus shot--resulting in deleted photos every time. Dejected, Sasquatch accepts his fate as a cryptid without a head shot when he's caught by surprise by one straggling hiker.

Deux Mains (With My Own Two Hands) directed by Michael Barocas. (Narrative Short | 4 minutes | 2018 | France) – The life of a man through his hands and those around him.

Corky directed by Ty Primosch. (Animated Short | 6 minutes | 2017 | USA) – A corkscrew with a screw loose battles a giant glass bottle to uncork seven magical lightning bugs trapped inside. CorkyTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Ty Primosch.

Basketball directed by Anthony Schubert. (Narrative Short | 4 minutes | 2017 | USA) – A woman struggles to learn the fundamentals of basketball and never gives up.

Unstuck: an OCD Kids Movie directed by Kelly J. Anderson. (Documentary Short | 23 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is often viewed as a minor annoyance, or worse, something useful. But OCD is a serious mental health issue that traps millions of kids, teens, and adults in a vicious cycle of worries and rituals. While families and loved ones are desperate to help, fighting OCD takes time and specialized therapy. Unstuck documents OCD through kids’ eyes only. It avoids sensationalizing compulsions and obsessions, and instead reveals the complexity of a disorder that affects both the brain and behavior. As these six resilient kids and teens roadmap their process of recovery, the film inspires viewers to believe it is possible to fight their worst fears and beat back OCD. Unstuck: an OCD Kids MovieTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Producer Chris Baier and subjects from the film.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: 4:30 – 6:00 PM

A curated selection of some of the best comedy shorts from around the world. 

Soggy Flakes directed by The Affolter Bros. (Animated Short| 6 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – In a low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-intolerant world, a group of out-of-work breakfast cereal mascots form a support group to lament the golden ages of yesteryear and figure out how to swallow the bitter taste of reality.

Super 8 Daze directed by John Morgan and Rob Hampton. (Documentary Short| 14 minutes | 2017 | USA) – 1970s teenagers Rob Hampton and John Morgan filmed Super 8 epics while growing up in New England. Decades later, these mini-blockbusters gained a whole new audience once they hit the Internet, attracting the attention of numerous major websites. The two men recount all the fun, ingenuity, and mischief of their childhood filmmaking adventures--a time when dinosaurs, aliens, and killer sharks ruled the backyard! Super 8 Daze Trailer

After the film: A conversation with Directors Rob Hampton and John Morgan.

Momtress directed by Liz Samuel. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 12 minutes | 2017 | USA) – A busy Mom and actress tries to keep her life together for her kids while she struggles with aging and loss. Looking for signs that things will work out is what keeps her moving forward. MomtressTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Liz Samuel.

NeckFace by Llanbobl Vision. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 11 minutes | 2018 | UK) – Having dreamed of the perfect wedding, Laney wakes up with the world's most unwelcome wedding guest in her bed - NeckFace. In this dark comedy, will Laney still go through with it; after all they have spent £950 on taffeta chair ties and £200 on her mother's hat alone? NeckFaceTrailer

Four Play directed by Jack Kyser. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 20 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Two best friends decide to order escorts to their apartment, but the night doesn't go as planned.

Sac de Merde directed by Greg Chwerchak. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 13 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Based on a true story, Sac de Merde tells the tale of Mazel Mankewicz, an unlucky-in-love yet irrationally optimistic New Yorker who thinks her luck has changed when she spends the night with the man of her dreams. As it turns out, he might just be full of shit. Literally.

After the film: A conversation with the writer and star of the film Arielle Haller-Silverstone.

Level 4 directed by Charles Copsey. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 4 minutes | 2017 | UK) – Two first-time criminals find themselves out of luck when their getaway vehicle is clamped up in a multi-story car park.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: 5:00 – 10:30 PM

An unforgettable lineup featuring edgy fare dealing with personal identity, dysfunctional relationships and sexuality

Recommended Audience: Ages 16+ (Sexuality, Language, and very brief violence)

Uber-Ex directed by Matt Braunsdorf. (Narrative Short| 17 minutes | 2018 | USA) – Kate and David are out on what feels like a rather significant date early in their relationship, but when their Uber driver turns out to be Kate’s old flame, the three passengers find themselves in the middle of a love triangle.

Two Little B*#ches directed by Emmy Harrington. (Narrative Feature | 75 minutes | 2017 | USA) – In the turmoil of an ugly breakup, Camille, unbridled and creative, seeks the help of her straight-laced and polite sister, Elena. In these sisters, we find the “good girl” who politely follows the rules and the “bad girl” who follows her heart in defiance of them. Over the course of seventy-two hours, we see the dualistic challenge many women face; it seems there is no safe way to play your cards. Either way, you’re the bitch. Two Little B*#chesTrailer

After the film: A conversation with Director Emmy Harrington.

Artifice directed by Kevin Byrnes. (Narrative Short | 4 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Artifice chronicles the demise of a relationship between an Apple iPhone and an Amazon Echo. While an esteemed director frets about the passion in their performances, we get an absurd glimpse into the future of our relationship with technology. ArtificeTrailer

The Hateful Date directed by Adam Kiers. (Narrative Short | 8 minutes | 2017 | Australia) – What if two people on a first date were honest with each?

Soft Spot directed by Justine Stevens. (Narrative Short | 13 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – When Kris’s partner Jess comes home from an evening out, the night takes an unexpected turn. Kris, struggling with the surprise death of an ex-lover, side steps Jess’s post gin and tonic come on’s and inadvertently reveals too much. In the wake of Jess’s insecurity, the two of them may have to deal with the past instead of the present issue at hand. Sexual Content.

After the film: Q&A Director Justine Stevens, Producer Ali Mashayekhi, and Writer/Actor Erin Carter

Intimity directed by Elodie Dermange. (Animated Short | 5 minutes | 2017 | Switzerland) – As she is showering, dressing, putting on her make-up, a woman bares her soul. She speaks of her fears, her complexes, and the process of accepting – even loving – herself. Sexual content.

Like Glass directed by David Armanino. (Narrative Short-Drama | 20 minutes | 2017 | USA) – Like Glass follows Zion, a club kid exploring their gender fluidity through the avant-garde scene of New York City's darkly fanciful nightlife. We witness Zion's story unfold through a stream of consciousness that weaves a fateful night out at the club with memories of the resistance they’ve faced, both at home from their partner and in public. In a society of binary gender norms, Zion is ultimately left questioning the truth and fragility of one's identity. Sexual content/Violence.

After the film: A conversation with Director Andrew Myer and Writer and Producer David Elijah.

On the Outside directed by Rishabh Arora. (Animated Short | 1 minute | 2018 | UK) – How would you confront the physical manifestations of our cyber personas? This film talks about dealing with our present media obsessed realities and the consequent isolation this causes for young people. *Student

The Things You Think I’m Thinking directed by Sherren Lee. (Narrative Short-Drama | 15 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – A black male burn-survivor and amputee goes on a date with a regularly-abled man. After the bar, they go back to his apartment, where he faces his demons as he attempts to experience intimacy for the first time since his accident, ten years ago. Sexual content.

Workplace PSA #14 directed by Ellie Larkin. (Animated Short | 30 minutes | 2018 | UK) – In this Kitty Co training video, we will learn all about how to handle harassment in the workplace.

Lifelines directed by Catharine Parke. (Narrative Short-Drama | 9 minutes | 2018 | Canada) – Overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of high school, Arielle finds refuge in a dangerous habit – until her best friend discovers her secret.

Easy Girl directed by Adam Goldhammer & Katie McMillan. (Narrative Short-Drama | 11 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – A young woman struggling to come to terms with a traumatic sexual experience finds herself in competition with her roommate over the same man. Over the course of one night, a startling discovery forces her to confront her past and re-evaluate her relationships. Easy Girl is a reflection on patriarchy, rape culture and female relationships, that seeks to challenge representations of “cattiness” as a natural or inevitable relationship between women. Sexual content.

Ladybug directed by Laura Goodman. (Narrative Short-Drama | 9 minutes | 2018 | USA) – A short collection of video blogs in which a girl attempts to deal with the death of her sister. *Student Film

Find This Dumb Little Bitch and Throw Her Into a River directed by Ben Brand. (Narrative Feature | 87 minutes | 20178 |The Netherlands) – In 2010, a teenage girl in Bosnia was filmed throwing live puppies into a fast-flowing river. The video, which was shot by her older brother and uploaded onto his YouTube page, quickly went viral and sparked outrage around the world. 


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: 5:30 – 7:30 PM

A variety of  narrative shorts by the best of up-and-coming Canadian filmmakers.

Eros directed by Shervin Kermani. (Narrative Short | 8 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – The film explores moments between lovers that have occurred in one spot over a thousand years. ErosTrailer

Tuesdays and Thursdays directed by Reza Dahya. (Narrative Short | 9 minutes | 2018 | Canada – A man attempts to reconnect with his estranged mother but has to pass along some bad news in the process.

After the film: Q&A with Producer Ali Mashayekhi

Rake directed by Jonathan Eagan. (Narrative Short-Drama | 16 minutes | 2018 | Canada) – Tom, a thoughtful teenager who longs for acceptance, is goaded into committing an act of vandalism by the vindictive older brother of his best friend. When caught in the act, he suddenly finds himself in an altercation that ends violently, forever changing him and his relationship with his friends in ways he never imagined.

She Came Knocking directed by John Ainslie. (Narrative Short | 12 minutes | 2016 | Canada) – When a woman witness' what she believes is a husband abusing his wife, she ignores standard procedures and takes matters into her own hands. She Came KnockingTrailer

Scattered directed by Ellie Harvie. (Narrative Short | 10 minutes | 2017 | Canada) – Two women venture into the woods to scatter their friend's ashes and fumble for a way to say goodbye.

Keep Coming Back! directed by Brendan Brady. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 12 minutes | 2018 | Canada) – An unrecovered alcoholic, Patty, shows up at her local AA meeting ready to share her latest relapse story. As the story progresses we find out that her actions had serious consequences.

After the film: A conversation with Director Brendan Brady.

The Cameraman directed by Connor Gaston. (Narrative Short-Comedy | 16 minutes | 2016 | Canada) – Francis must reconcile his relationship with his abusive father who suffers from Huntington's Disease. Francis' younger brother, Ed--the cameraman--records their dysfunctional lives with his Super 8 camera. The CameramanTrailer


]]> (RIFF) Events Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:00:57 -0400
The Redding Pilot and 4 Sister Newspapers to Cease Publication

Publisher and CEO of HAN Network Martin V. Hersam has announced that several of the company's newspapers will cease to operate: the Weston Forum, the Redding Pilot, the Easton Courier, Monroe Courier and the Stratford Star.

"Due to economic forces buffeting our industry we are rescaling our business again.  The recent volatility of the newsprint market made our options clear,” said Martin V. Hersam. "The best efforts of our incredible staff and years of strategic planning, retooling and restructuring we could not overcome the economic realities of tepid advertising and subscriber interest in this market. We just could not sustain a publishing business here any longer,” he continued.

The company will continue to publish weekly newspapers including Darien Times, New Canaan Advertiser, Wilton Bulletin, Ridgefield Press, Milford Mirror, Trumbull Times and Shelton Herald.

In addition to the closings of the Forum, Pilot and Courier, Hersam said the Monroe Courier and the Stratford Star are being closed as well.
"Unfortunately, we could not operate at a financial loss here any longer,” said Hersam.

Mail subscribers inquiring about refunds are asked to login to:

Subscribers may also email: or call: 203-293-9744


]]> (HH) Life Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:23:49 -0400
ACT of Connecticut's EVITA Earns Critical Acclaim, Entertainment Writer Pens Review

 Evita like you've never seen before 

Arguably, this is the best Equity production of "Evita" in the last decade or two

    -Jim Ruocco

Entertainment writer and critic Jim Ruocco attended the Opening Night of ACT of Connecticut's production of EVITA. With enthusiasm and critical acclaim, he reviews this incredible Broadway production. Mr. Ruocco has given HamletHub permission to publish his review.

If you dream hard enough, it with happen.

For Daniel C. Levine, that dream began at the tender age of 10 when he sat in a darkened theater watching a community theater production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical "Evita."

Thrilled, excited, dazzled and charged by the electricity and theatricality of that moment, he vowed to one day be part of an "Evita" production that would challenge him, entice him, move him and push his creativity level to the max as both storyteller and interpreter.

Flash forward to October, 2018.

At ACT of CT, the stunning new Equity showcase that sprang to life earlier this year with "Mamma Mia!," Levine's dream of directing "Evita" finally became a reality when the two-act musical was added to the 2018-2019 full season line up as the opening show. His feet haven't touched the ground ever since.


His "Evita" makes for captivating, spectacular, beguiling musical theater.

That said, this is "Evita" like you've never seen before.

It is chock full of the romantic ambivalence, glory-chasing tirades, political debates, sexual ambiguity, bitter, ironic commentary and cult celebrity worship dictated by its originators. But the comparisons stop there.

This "Evita" dances to its own individual beat.
Reimagined, retooled, reworked and revitalized, Levine sets the ACT of CT stage ablaze with a fiery, vivid interpretation bathed in cynicism, rage, calculation, wistfulness and jaw-dropping spectacle.

He not only makes you forget everything you already know and love about the London, Broadway and National Touring editions of "Evita," but uses his creative juices so advantageously, you feel as if you are seeing and experiencing "Evita" for the very first time.

In this version, Eva Peron, Argentina's favorite leading lady and political wife means business. Turn your back on her and she'll snap you in half.

Arguably, this is the best Equity production of "Evita" in the last decade or two. From the very first moment the musical begins, in the very assured hands of Levine, a  fresh electricity and dazzle permeate his confident, multi-layered vision of the oft-told story. It is textured. It is nuanced. It is raw. It is real. It is honest. It is flavorful. It is complex.

As "Evita" unfolds, Levine pays close attention to the rise and fall of Eva Peron, Che's deliberate stalking of the sainted Eva, her bedroom theatrics, the rapidly accelerating momentum of the  fortune's made/fortune's fade agenda and the twisty machinations that thrust her to the top of her game before it all comes crashing down and the spotlight fades forever.

Staging "Evita," Levine brings a seamless energy to the musical, offset by artistic choices that are revolutionary, spirited and different from other incarnations. Che, grabbing a framed photo of Eva, during the opening funeral interval and singing with unbridled sarcasm, is a choice moment that heightens the musical's velocity. Elsewhere, Eva's removal of Peron's Mistress from the bedroom unfolds with more rage and nasty calculation. The expert revision and reworking of the epic, final montage which includes the reappearance of Person's Mistress and the entire Argentine populace during Eva's last moments, astonishes. Levine also adds much more passion and romance to the Eva/Juan Peron love story, which in turn, gives it added allure, heat and sexual tension. Under Levine's watchful eye, the actual Casa Rosada balcony is the exact same color as the real one in Buenos Aires. There's also a natural, refreshing intimacy to the piece, which at times thrusts the audience into the pending action as both voyeur and participant. Simply amazing. 

The "rock opera" show score for "Evita," as written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics), contains 30 well-placed, positioned and timed musical  numbers that carry the story and its characters through both Act I and Act II with the buzz and intoxication of topicality and timeliness intended by its creators. Ambitious, vital, classic and passionate, the songs include "Requiem for Evita," "Oh What a Circus," "Buenos Aires," "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," "A New Argentina," "High Flying Adored," "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and "And the Money Keeps Rolling In." "You Must Love Me," written for the 1996 film adaptation of "Evita," is also included. It was added to subsequent revivals of the musical, beginning in 2006 with the West End London production in addition to the 2011 Broadway incarnation that starred Elena Roger, Ricky Martin and  Michael Cerveris. It works wonderfully here.

Then and now, the character-driven South-American inflicted music, coupled with the rags-to-riches story of a fiercely-driven, independent woman who becomes the wife of Argentine President Juan Peron and achieves sainted, cult, celebratory status with the adoring populace is epic, revolutionary,  and challenging.

Music direction for this "Evita" is provided by Evan Roider, a deft, capable, hands-on musician who spent the last year as assistant conductor for the North American tour of "Les Miserables."  Among his other credits are "The Pirates of Penzance" for Barrington Stage Company, "The Golden Apple" for Encores!, "Candide" for St, Luke's Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and "Company" for Playhouse on Park.

What's remarkable here is Roider's bright, invigorating perspective toward the "Evita" material and its evolution throughout the Eva Peron story. Yes, we know the music. Yes, we know the lyrics. Yes, we know the interludes, the epic passion and the pauses used for dramatic effect. We also know the fluent beats and rhythmic musicality as officiated by Webber. Regardless, this "Evita" often takes us by surprise, as though we are hearing "Oh What A Circus," "Buenos Aries," "Don't Cry For Me Argentina," "High Flying Adored," "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" and "A New Argentina" for the very first time.

Elsewhere, there is just the right amount of attitude, pulse, frankness and ambivalence in Roider's musical and orchestral depiction of Argentina's sanctified first lady. Nothing is taken for granted. Nothing is copycated. Nothing is overplayed or overdramatized. Here, you get blunt, biting, beautifully amplified words that resound with the sting and scope Rice intended. Roider also amps up the music when necessary or takes chances by playing things differently or adding 30 or 40 seconds of scoring here and there for added dramatic effect. No matter. The whole expressive world of the "Evita" score is perfectly evoked under his skill tutelage, and then some.

Choice, exacting, pitch-perfect music supervision by the versatile and talented Bryan Perri (Resident Music Supervisor for ACT of CT and musical director for Broadway's "Wicked") also heightens the reverent, vocal richness of the "Evita" experience.  

For "Evita," choreographer Charlie Sutton ("Young Charles Dickens," "Wringer," "Gregorian") has devised a thrilling, dynamic, wide range of movements, patterns, pairings and groupings that marvelously punctuate Eva's journey from poverty and backstreet whore to upward rise as visionary, celebrity and cult icon. In turn, every one of the dances and musical numbers requiring specific choreographic stylization unfolds with the intoxicating sweep and passion required to unleash the ambitions, politics, propaganda, sarcasm and disenchantment of the "Evita" blueprint.

But there is no copycating, as this "Evita" is decidedly different from the Broadway, London and National Tour editions of the musical. Here, Sutton dances to his own rhythms and creates a wide range of dynamics and moods that are fast, fluid, fiery, muscular and graceful. The texture and presentation is powerful and juicy. The stop and go speed and slowness is impeccably timed. There are also lots of twists, turns, jumping, stomping, dipping and holding, performed with wild, gleeful abandon by the entire "Evita" cast. Sutton also retains the musical's steamy, hallmark Argentine flavor, which is dutifully reflected in many of the show's big dance numbers. It's all quite visionary, kinetic and atmospherically smoldering.

To portray Eva Peron, Levine has cast the captivating, wonderfully compelling Julia Estrada to take center stage as Juan Peron's grand, glamorous, calculating, self-absorbed wife and lover. A brilliant actress and singer, she boldly steps into the iconic role made famous by Elaine Paige in London and Patti LuPone on Broadway and makes you forget everything you know and remember about their very, very different portrayals of Argentina's first lady.

It's a fearless, dynamic performance that is breathless, beguiling, determined, urgent and awe-inspiring. That said, this is Estrada's role from start to finish. It's a part the actress was destined to play and play it shes does. She soars. She flies. She enchants. She sky rockets. She also summons up every emotion imaginable to make us feel and believe what the character is thinking, experiencing and desiring.

What's equally impressive about Estrada's work (ovation worthy at every turn) is her actual grasp of the character and her desire to take the part far beyond the confines of the proven Broadway musical. Her Eva is much more calculating, self-absorbed, egotistical and predatory. It's a creative process that builds and builds over the course of the two-act musical and one that the actress cultivates with effortless style, depth and precision. Mess with this Eva and she'll snap you in two, eat you for breakfast, knock you down a flight of stairs, cut you completely out of her life or look you straight in the eye, smile and say "Fuck you."

Addressing the pungent and popular "Evita" vocals, which include "Don't Cry For Me Argentina," "Buenos Aires," "High Flying Adored," "Rainbow Tour," "You Must Love Me" and "A New Argentina," Estrada's quick, expertly timed transitions from powerhouse belt to liquid loveliness or  melodic sweetness (or back and forth again, depending on the musical score) is both commanding and seamless. She never once channels or copycats the show's female originators. Instead, she is a whirlwind of versatility who puts her own personal stamp on the vocals, thus, creating a thrilling musicality that passionately reflects Eva's calculated ambitions, her impassioned climb to the top, her love of Peron and his politics, her iconic star quality with the Argentine populace and finally, her fall and unexpected death decree.

Pivotal to the musical telling of "Evita," is the character of Che Guevara, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, who serves as Greek chorus member, narrator, observer, commentator and storyteller, all rolled into one. It's a choice, distinctive role that requires a strong, personable actor and singer who must not only click immediately with the audience, but guide them along on that amazing journey that is "Evita."

Angel Lozada, as Che, accepts that challenge and steps into the spotlight full force to enlighten and entertain both the on-stage actors and audience with the glamorous, tawdry, opportunistic and political events of Eva's life (in reality, they never actually met) and what they actually mean, using the full operatic sweep and drama of the subject matter.

Completely at ease with the robust, often acerbic Webber-Rice material, the actor takes his role seriously and keeps his audience riveted and entertained using the fiery, three-ring circus brio the musical is famous for. Vocally, he is in fine voice projecting the manipulation, edge, sarcasm and disappointment associated with his stellar music numbers ("Oh What a Circus," "A New Argentina," High Flying Adored," "And the Money Keeps Rolling In," "Rainbow Tour"). It's a driven, five-star performance that brings an emotional roundness and strength to the production and hits the mark on all accounts.

As Juan Peron, the founder and leader of the Peronist political movement, Ryan K. Bailer offers a suave, forceful, passionate character turn, very different from that of Bob Gunton who originated the part in the original Broadway production and Michael Cerveris who played the same role in the 2012 Broadway revival. In this "Evita," we get a more handsome, grounded, politically powerful Peron that stands tall and proud. It's a well-acted dramatic turn, offset by strong, expressive vocals ("The Art of the Possible," "A New Argentina," "She is a Diamond," "Dice Are Rolling") that intuitively reveals  Peron's upper-class persona, his political agenda, his selflessness, his worship of Eva and lastly, his acceptance of her idol worship by the Argentine populace. 

Charismatic and appealing Julian Alvarez, as Magaldi, the smoldering, narcissistic tango/milonga singer whom Eva charms, seduces and beds as her transport ticket to the cosmopolitan capital city of  Buenos Aires, delivers a smooth, distinctive, wry characterization that is peppered with real emotion and humanity, punctuated by appropriate dash, sleaze, suave and egotism.

Vocally, he creates a strong, harmonious impression with the tango-tinged "On This Night of a Thousand Stars," coupled with rich, passionate phrasing and enunciation that reflects the original intent, sarcasm and meaning of the material as dictated by the show's creators. Alvarez also diligently doubles as actor, singer and dancer in the "Evita" ensemble, using the same dash and spirit exuded as Magaldi. If anyone is doing the musical "Nine," pick up the phone and ring Alvarez. He'd be perfect for the lead role of disillusioned filmmaker Guido Contini.

Marlena Lopez Hilderley is cast in the supporting role of Peron's Mistress, a young, attractive woman who is shown the door in quick, assumptive fashion by Eva whose capacity for cruelty and ruthlessness knows no boundaries. But before she disappears into the Argentine moonlight, she pauses and delivers "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," a haunting, brokenhearted rendition of this quietly understated lyrical solo. This lament is performed with such exemplary beauty and clarity by the actress/singer, it is just as magical as the one set forth by Siobhan McCarthy in the original West End/London production of "Evita" and that of Jane Ohringer, who assumed the role on Broadway, a year later.

Representing the "Evita" ensemble are Daniel Marhelko, Alex Caldwell, Mia Scarpa, Jordan Fife Hunt, Paul Aguirre, Monica Ramirez, Alison Mahoney, Morgan Harrison, Erick Sanchez-Canahuate, Kyle White and Daniel Schwait. Handpicked by Levine, Roider and Sutton, they are a talented, driven group of actors, singers and dancers who exhibit the kind of professional showmanship and versatility that gives this production its dazzle, verve, punch and atmospheric frenzy. As "Evita" unfolds, they assume a variety of different roles entering or exiting the stage as one set of characters, reappearing only seconds later as someone else, replete with different costumes (Brenda Phelps' costume design for the entire cast is absolutely stunning)  and a completely different mindset.
Vocally, they are outstanding. Their choral sound, often amped up by the sound team to suggest an even richer chorus, doubled in size, (via echo-type sound maneuvers and other tricks of the trade)  gives this "Evita" an incredible vocal kick that thrills and excites every step of the way. As dancers, everyone adapts to Sutton's atmospheric, complex choreographic beats, rhythms and pairings with proper agility, fire and intensity. Simply incredible

"Evita" is a magnificent achievement for ACT of CT. Daniel C. Levine's direction is creative, liberating and joyously syncopated. Every song style and melody that Evan Roider instructs his brilliant orchestral team to play has purpose beyond its initial meaning.  Charlie Sutton's lively, flavorsome choreography unfolds with great professional skill. The artistic choices and spirit of the entire cast carry the musical story forward in all its impassioned glory.
And finally, the power and gleam of this stunning revival lies in its ability to reawaken the oft-told story of Eva Peron and make it look and feel undeniably present (Jack Mehler's moody, smokey, atmospheric set and lighting design is gorgeously conceived) as though we are seeing it for the very first time. It's quite an accomplishment and one this Ridgefield-based Equity showcase delivers with a theatrical exuberance and wealth of ambition that literally takes your breath away.

For more entertainment reviews and previews, read Jim Ruocco's blog here.

*photo by Jeff Butchen 


Performances of EVITA continue through November 11, Thursdays at 7pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.  

Show dates continue to sell out and ACT of Connecticut is encouraging theater enthusiasts to invest in its annual subscription (season ticket) packages.

Purchase tickets HERE. For more information about ACT of CT, ticket and annual subscription sales, fall education programs, sponsor/donor opportunities, and other theater-related news and announcements visit

Please get your tickets now by clicking here.

]]> (HH) Neighbors Thu, 11 Oct 2018 08:41:16 -0400