Wilton resident Megan Smith-Harris is an award-winning writer, editor of TownVibe’s Wilton Magazine, and co-owner of PYEWACKITT PRODUCTIONS. Enter a new role for Megan: Festival Director of the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival (RIFF). Here, we talk with Megan about the vast amount of experience she brings to this role, the RIFF lineup of events (including an Oscar Party), 2018 Festival venues, and how you can be part of RIFF.
You bring a host of experience (and tons of passion) to your role as the RIFF Festival Director. What does being a Festival Director mean to you?
I’m thrilled. Being a filmmaker myself, I’ve had the good fortune to attend film festivals all over North America and in the process, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is to showcase the best that independent cinema has to offer, to celebrate festival filmmakers, and to inspire our audiences. There’s a rich cultural diversity in Ridgefield and I’m excited to now be a part of the ever-evolving arts community.
TownVibe has taken the reigns of RIFF! Will things change? What can we expect?
We’ve changed the date! We are moving the festival from late May to the third week of October (18-21). Why? There’s something about the crispness and beauty of the fall foliage in this area that makes Ridgefield a perfect backdrop for a topnotch film festival. And at just over an hour away from New York, who wouldn’t want to come here? The town is both incredibly picturesque and comfortably walkable. When people aren’t attending RIFF screenings, panel discussions, or our fabulous parties at various venues around town, they can frequent the great local restaurants, shops, and businesses. Our new creative team—Geoffrey Morris (Executive Director), Bill Harris (General Manager) and myself—also hopes to leverage our personal industry contacts to bring name-brand talent to Ridgefield. Not just during the festival proper, but also for special screening events throughout the year.
Is the Oscar Party at The Aldrich the official Festival kickoff event?
Yes! And it’s going to be amazing. After you walk the red carpet in your Hollywood-inspired finery you’ll enjoy specialty cocktails, hors-d'oeuvres, premium wine and beer, and dessert. There are multiple big screens to watch the 90th annual Academy Awards live which is being hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. We’ll also have movie trivia during commercial breaks, live auction items, prizes, a green-screen photo booth, and lots more surprises. It’s going to be a great party and it’s all in support of RIFF. So if you’ve been sitting around watching the Oscars in your pajamas, now’s the time for you to change it up a bit and take a star turn on the red carpet.
Can anyone attend the Oscar Party?
Absolutely. The more the merrier! Tickets are $75 each and available online at our new website HERE.
The Festival runs October 18-21 but RIFF will celebrate independent films and filmmakers for more than four days. What do you have planned?
We’ll be having special screenings and Q&As throughout the year. Right now, we’re in the planning stages for two special upcoming events for the spring. The first is Jane, an extraordinary National Geographic documentary with never-before-seen footage of Jane Goodall. Next up, we want to invite producer/director Thom Zimny to share excerpts and insights from his highly anticipated two-part documentary Elvis: The Searcher. We also plan to schedule screenings that will complement other events going on around town. For instance, we plan to showcase one or two jazz-related films during the jazz festival in September.
Which Ridgefield venues will host the films?
We have wonderfully supportive partners in The Ridgefield Playhouse, the Ridgefield Library, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Prospector Theatre, and Keeler Tavern Museum. We also hope to partner through the year with ACT-A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut.
How can filmmakers submit their films?
I’m so glad you asked! Without great films, we can’t have a great film festival so we are actively seeking the very best. The submission window opens on Monday, March 5 and anyone who wants to submit a film can go to our link on Film Freeway here.
How can Ridgefielders get involved?
Become a RIFF volunteer. We need some more volunteer screeners to help evaluate our film submissions as well as a team of volunteers to help at the Festival in October. If anyone is interested, all they have to do is fill out the online volunteer form here.