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RIFF is a seven-day celebration of new European and national independent films. As well as offering the chance for young filmmakers to present their work to the general public at film screenings, RIFF offers a series of special events designed to stimulate enthusiasm and create discussion.


History of the RIFF Cultural Association

The RIFF Cultural Association was created in January of 2001, but has been a project of the association's founder and president, Fabrizio Ferrari, since early 1999. It was conceived with the intention to promote both Italian and international independent cinema.











Collaborating with Albert deQuay, director of the Santa Monica Film Festival (SMFF) of California, Ferrari worked to organize special screening events dedicated to Italian Cinema for the SMFF 1999/2000. Such collaboration provided for Ferrari to become the SMFF's marketing director and thus key player in the sustaining of the festival through sponsorship. Such collaboration provided Ferrari with invaluable contacts with various international production and distribution companies. Such contacts include: Vision Box Pictures, which presented the Italian and European premiere of "Falling Like This"; HiQi Media, which released "Sinergy"; and Reel Dreams, which later presented "Extra" during the RIFF Series.
Other relations with institutions and schools became fundamental for the RIFF association's development, including: The Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles; The Italian Cultural Institute of Istanbul; The American Film Institute, the National Film, Television and Theater School of Poland, Royal Holloway University of London, UniFrance, plus various independent film festivals around the globe.
August 2000 marked the birth of the official RIFF festival website,, which after only weeks in existence received an extraordinary success: beginning with about 300 hits a day, it has come to receive over 1000 daily hits. The site now serves as a fundamental channel of information for filmmakers from around the world, allowing them the opportunity to participate in the festival. The site has evolved to become a database for industry professionals, including distributors, and offers direct access to all films enlisted. In the site section entitled, Filmmarket, each and every of the RIFF" s officially selected films are listed, along with coinciding production and distribution company information. For the general public, trailers of the films, interviews with the directors, and some of the films themselves can be downloaded and viewed from the site. The official RIFF website has therefore served the continual development and growth of the association, permitting its filmmakers, members and contributors a means to branch out into the international and local arena.
February 26 of 2001 marked the official inauguration of the RIFF Association, and took place at the Academy of Conservatory of St. Cecilia in Rome. The event featured the screenings of documentaries and short films as well as a classical musical concert taken from the films" soundtracks. The inauguration itself served as a metaphor for the RIFF" s mission statement, bringing together both the classical and cutting edge of art, two very different, yet very valid art forms. It is the RIFF" s opinion that such a combination of seemingly contradictory elements is the formula for the development of a unique artistic arena. March 27, 2001 brought the Roma Independent Film Festival to the public realm. The selected location was that of the Cinema Pasquino, well known as a theater that screens films in their original language. The strategy of choosing a location already known by the community as a place for quality international cinema in original language has given us access to that already existing audience, and the location has since become synonymous with the RIFF, a festival distinguished not only by quality audio-visual technology, but by quality independent films. The programmed screenings have included: "Amami"by Guglielmo Zanette, What Happened to the "Communists" by Giovanni Morricone, and "Lava" by Joe Tucker, all European premieres.
Due to high success levels and the market demand to further develop the festival, monthly programs soon evolved, and came to include European premieres with the participation of important personalities from the world of cinema. In July 2001, the festival came together to present a special RIFF program at the Cinema Island"event, to include three documentary films and a special conference on Ethnographic Cinema.
This conference was part of a larger partnership formed by the RIFF with the Oxford University Ethnographic Film Society, under the title, Emerging Voices. Italian and international figures in the realm of documentary filmmaking attended and participated in the event, including: Silvano Agosti (director), Paolo Brunatto (director), Paolo Chiozzi (University of Florence), Alan Marcus (Manchester University), Marcus Banks (Oxford University), Gianfranco Mingozzi (director), Peter Loizos (University of London), Michael Yorke (BBC and Channel 4), and students from the Granada Television Center and The Manchester University School of Visual Anthropology.
During 2001 the RIFF association began to branch out and take part of other international festival programs. The RIFF curated and screened special programs for the International Short Film Fest; Shortvillage; Tropfest Sydney 2001; and Montecarlo Sat. The Roma Independent Film Festival sought to organize a series of screenings at the Cineporto festival in order to further publicize the RIFF's extensive database of quality films. Discussions with significant Italian industry professionals were organized to coincide with the event: Renzo Martinelli presented the unfinished cut of his film, "Vajont", and the independent director Nico D'Alessandria presented his autobiographical documentary, Nico D'Alessandria. Such monthly screenings and events continue to grow in quality and popularity, setting a new standard of international independent cinema. In April of 2003, the RIFF festival was invited to present the entire program of Italian Short Films at the Istanbul Short Film Festival, further developing the RIFF's strategy of international collaboration. Such strategy of creating the riff series and curating special RIFF programs for other festivals has brought over 5,000 members to the RIFF Association, plus a database of over 2,000 filmmakers.
The desire to keep the festival and community at the cutting edge of new technologies and industry trends has led the RIFF to add new sections to the festival: in two years the RIFF has doubled its number of sections. Additional topics include a competitive digital video section, a screenwriting competition, an international student film competition, a special event on digital art in collaboration with the European Institute of Design, seminars on computer graphics and the latest editing technologies with Apple Computer, a symposium with international filmmakers and industry professionals discussing independent film financing strategies. In accordance with the festival" s multiplying trend, the 2003 RIFF has expanded even further to include the RIFF Expanded Cinema, a special program intended to assist young filmmakers to develop, produce, and distribute their films, and coincides with the new short and feature length Screenwriting Competition. The RIFF Film Grant is a fund that has been established to support the project" s completion. In the attempt to support student filmmakers, the RIFF has also added the new International Student Film Competition. A special event dedicated to filmmaking from developing European countries has also been organized to highlight a series of outstanding films from that country, and is accompanied by attending filmmakers and panel discussions.
In 2003 the cosmopolitan soul of the Festival has given birth to Riff on tour, a promotional tour who brings italian works, selected during the Riff Award, in the main festivals all over the world. Riff on tour has already been presented at Cineporto of Rome, Isola del Cinema, Clorofilla Filmfest, Santa Monica Independent Film Festival, Istanbul International Short Film Days and Temecula International Film Festival. In this last one, on september, "Fate come noi" by Francesco Apolloni, who was the Riff 2003 inaugural movie, had a great success of public and critics.
At the end of the year Riff, with the partenership of Cortitalia, has started a new adventure named "AgrigentoCortoFest", an event who brought in Sicily all the best short movies made in the Mediterranean Sea Area. On december, finally, Cinema Mexico in Milan had a screening of all the most interesting works selected by the previous Riff edition.
On february 2004 the new Riff edition has seen growing its success and its number of applications, members and supporters. More than 20 countries have been rapresented in this third edition, prouve of international interesting for the Festival. Riff 2004 had 8 world previews, and almost 50 european and italian previews, 3 special events dedicated to French cinema, to Spanish cinema (special guest the director Achero Manas, 3 Goya Awards winner) and to New American Cinema with a Symposium of all the Festival" s american guests. Starting this year, Riff presented a new section dedicated to Film Schools, with a special screening of Kieslowsky" s first works, in partnership with Poland National School of Film, TV and Teather.
This year opening night has been marked by a charity intent for Unicef in Bangladesh with the screening of "Piccoli invisibili" by Roberta Serdoz, a documentary on poor metropolis of Dacca. After that "Stai con me" by Livia Giampalmo, starring Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Adriano Giannini, has ufficially opened Riff 2004.
The relationship between cinema, tv and teather has been the topic of the docu-fiction "Scuola di teatro", about the school of teather in Italy, presented by the actor and director Bruno Colella. Finally a workshop on video music production organized in collaboration with Grandi Stazioni and MOVIDA, a production company based in Turin, has collected a remarkable presence of a young audience.

With the 2005 edition, during its fourth year, the RIFF saw a cementation of its presence on the roman cinematographic scene, augmenting even more its international prospective, which even from the first year characterized it" s independent spirit. Beside the prestigious level of works presented, of all of the themes participating, considerable attention was given to the retrospectives, and events to which famous people participated, these were also present in the jury. Among the esteemed guests was Gianni Minà, extremely well known both as a director and journalist. Various exponents of the world of production and distribution were able to exchange business cards and create contacts during the festival, therefore giving the works of particular cultural interest and opportunity to shine. Special attention was given to the RIFF when in presented an even around movies that concerned human rights. there was a lot of commotion and well earned press surrounding the opening of the incredible film "Omagh", by Pete Travis. the film is a documentary on the reconstruction of the tragic terrorist attach that took place in Ireland in June 1998. Among the very special events, the tribute to the Scuola Nazionale Del Cinema had an enormous success. During this wonderful event numerous short films were screened, all of which by students of the school. There was yet another triumphant event, a tribute to the actor Harvey Keitel, who is very much appreciated by the Italian public. To celebrate Keitel, there was the world premier of his film "Cuba Libre", directed by Juan Gerard.
The section dedicated to documentaries, with the night devoted to the Geneva International Festival, attracted a large crowd. During the evening there was the presentation of the documentary Miguel, ne terren, after the screening there was a sort of round table where the director Enric Mirò, and the journalists Valentino Parlato, Michele Torrealta and Roberta Bottari exchanged views.
Other notable events, that were very much appreciated by the public and by the critics include the tribute to the Italian director Paolo Sorrentino; the premier of "Fatti della Banda della Magliana", directed by Daniele Costantini; the screening of the documentaries Fuori Fuoco: cinema, ribelli e rivoluzionari, directed by Francesco Cabras and Alberto Montanari. These projections were followed by debates and workshops, among the latter was the provocative theme on the censure of video clips; the Tiresia project, which encourages the diffusion of film projects that promote the untable situation of disable people. The ministry of work and social politics endorsed these events. For the first time the Istituto Luce, created and gave and award for the best short. Numerous were the works that spoke about the social injustices that are ever more present.

During the edition that took place in 2006, the fifth year for the RIFF, the festival highlighted its original inspiration, giving even more space to cosmopolitan authors and directors. The film that opened the festival was "Short Order", by Anthony Byrne with Vanessa Redgrave. The public particularly applauded this creative and ironic noir. The closure of the first day was dedicated to Eros Puglielli, and his ADProject. The director participated to the event by speaking out on the film "The Coproducers". The theatre was packed with many famous Italian faces. During the following day there was a special event dedicated Norwegian cinema. "Kissed by Winter", an Oscar candidate for best foreign film, and winner of the AFI Festival in Los Angeles, it was presented by the director and appreciated very much by the public. The final film was "Self Medicated" by Monty Lapics, which turned out to be the winner of the RIFF, it won best film, where the director was both author and actor of the film.
Different yet very present themes were concerned throughout the numerous projection during the following days. The day dedicated to Spanish movies saw the tribute to the Alternative Barcelona Independent Film Festival. The movie "Barrio Cuba" was presented by the director Humberto Solas, the movie "El Taxista Ful" by Jo Sol, yet another Spanish director, gave the public something to talk about and spoke to them, proving to have great warmth and modesty. The remaining days were full of movies that spoke about political and social dilemmas. The work "Dreaming Lhasa", directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, opened the event dedicated to Tibetan culture. The association Amici del Tibet were present to collect funds to help free Tibetan prisoners in Chinese prisons. The films that concluded the week of amazing works were Italian: "3 giorni di anarchia" by Vito Zagarrio and "Sopra e sotto il ponte" by Alberto Bassetti, the producers and complete cart were present for the screening of the movie. The winner of the award for the Best First Work was given to the French and Belgian film "The Iceberg", by Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel and Bruno Romy.
During the 2006 edition of the festival, new collaborations and partnerships were made, in particular with the Humanitarian Association, and ONG. These are trying to create a stable dialogue between cinema and social themes. Sunday April 9th was dedicated to the subject of human rights with projections and meetings. Some documentaries were presented, among which Medici Senza Frontiere, the CIR and Terre del Homes, all associations that fight injustice. The publics enthusiasm saw no boundaries for the event that was presented in collaboration with the International Festival on Human Rights that takes place in Geneva.
In the program, for the special selection dedicated this year was French cinema. The projection of shorts happened thanks to collaboration of the French Embassy and Unifrance. Within the French section there was a micro event that concentrated on a young reality of the independent cinema, ART PARK, an independent production that concerns itself with intercultural problems and experiments.
An incredible novelty this year was the fact that the foreign movies were finally subtitled in Italian end English. This brought more prestige to the movies that were projected.
Various workshops took place alongside the screenings, such as "In Pitching" and Casa RIFF. A film that was presented and that introduced the idea of docu-film, was "Io sono un cittadino" directed by Peter Marcias and produced by Gianluca Acropinto.

The 2007 Roma Independent Film Festival took place at the Cinema Nuovo Olimpia in Rome, scheduling around 100 films in competition - feature films, short films and documentaries - from over 50 Countries.
At the same time special attention was paid to debuting Italian films, as shown in the opening night, with Sweet, Sweet Marja, the first feature film by roman director Angelo Frezza, a brilliant comedy mixed up with unpredictable aspects, introduced by the director itself as an absolute preview at the RIFF. Among Italian films in competition, many first and second works as: Il nostro Messia by Claudio Serughetti; Il Rabdomante by Fabrizio Cattani with Andrea Osvart and Francesco Dominedò and Il pugile e la ballerina by Francesco Suriano.
This year the Human Rights Day - almost an ordinary event at the RIFF - was focused on the issue "Donne e diritti al centro della fotografia" and was dedicated to women's condition throughout the world, from violence to protection. At the very center of the "Day" was an introduction to the Neema Project, realized with the contribution of Regione Lazio - Assessorato ai Servizi Sociali with which the Association Nativo Onlus is performing a campaign on the issue of mother-children from different cultural backgrounds.
Another event worth to be quoted was the showing of the movie Guinea Pig, sponsored by Amnesty International and realized in collaboration with Regione Lazio, in the presence of athlete and main character Fiona May. Within the Human Rights Day was also introduced the "Theoneminutesjr" project, launched in 2002 thanks to the European Cultural Foundation, the One Minutes Foundation and Unicef, for the production of short films lasting one minute each made by troubled youths.
Another interesting innovation of this year's Festival was the "Horror Day", in collaboration with the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film (BIFF): the event was introduced by Manlio Gomarasca, editor of Nocturno (a magazine specialized in the horror movies production). Special guests: the swiss director Markus Fischer and his film Marmorea, the actress Laura Harrings formerly main character in Mulholland Drive by David Lynch and, in the Italian section, Lamberto Bava, who introduced his last movie Ghost Son, distributed by Moviemax.
The 2007 edition also had several nigths focused on international cinema: particularly relevant was the event on Spain, with the showing of Vete de mí, by Spanish director Victor Garcia Leon, selected at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and at the 2006 Goya Awards, and the Canadian night, with the showing of the short film Moi by Yan England (in the director's presence) and of the feature film Délivrez-moi by Denis Chouinard (winner at the Berlin International Film Festival and at the Paris Film Festival in 2002), who won the New Vision 2007 RIFF Prize.
Throughout the seven days' shows were also organized:
- a Workshop on digital cinema in collaboration with the Università Roma Tre
- a Seminar on TV formats, entitled "The age of format", led by Prof. Giampiero Gamaleri, Professor in Sociology of Communication at the Faculty of Letter and Philosophy - Roma Tre and by Sergio Perugini, expert in systems of television and multimedia production,
- a Convention on the Italian Cinema Act
During the Festival was also introduced the book "Schermi di piombo: il terrorismo nel cinema italiano" by Christian Uva, lecturer at the Department of Communication and Entertainment at the Roma Tre University: the text examines the so-called season of the "iron years" under the unusual perspective offered by cinema lens, through the complex and troubled relationship between cinema and "terrorisms", within the more general context of political violence in Italy during the Seventies.
For the first time this year, RIFF benefited from the FICC Jury made of by Elisabetta Randaccio, Jan Berthrand Danielsen and Veit Geldner, who assigned the Don Quijote Prize to the documentary "Yaptik-Hasse" by Edgar Bartenev (Russia).
The International Jury Prize for the best feature film went instead to Punk love by Nick Lyon (IT), the Best First Film Prize went to 7 ½ by Miroslav Momcilovic (Serbia), the Feature Film Special Mention to Il Nostro Messia di Claudio Serughetti (IT) and the First Film Special Mention to Threat di Matt Pizzolo (USA).
Apart from the usual prizes to short films (animation, student-short, foreign short), the 2007 RIFF competing section for the best Italian short film was split between shorts lasting 0-15' (won by "Miracolo a Milano" by Toni Brunetti) and those lasting 15-30' (ex-aequo winners: "Guinea Pig" by Antonello De Leo and "Violent Loop" by Mauro Meconi).
Many artists took place in the festival; among them actors Alessandro Haber, Roberto Herlitzka, Fiona May, Laura Harrings, Oleg Stefan, Francesco Dominedò, Remo Remotti, Isabel Russinova, Elisabetta Rocchetti, directors Angelo Frezza, Claudio Serughetti, Lamberto Bava, Francesco Apolloni, Francesco Suriano, Daniele Vicari, Angelo Frezza, Markus Fischer, Victor Garcia Leon, and also Gianluca Arcopinto, Christian Uva, Mario La Torre, Bruno Zambardino, Giampiero Gamaleri, Fabrizio Cattani, Wilma Labate, Vito Zagarrio


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Fabrizio Ferrari
(RIFF - Rome Independent Film Festival)

The Roma Independent Film Festival (RIFF) is Rome 's first independent and international film festival.

Its aim is to unite enthusias
m for films and filmmaking among young filmmakers with the realities of film production and distribution. RIFF is a seven-day celebration of new European and international independent films. As well as offering the chance for young filmmakers to present their work to the general public at film screenings, RIFF offers a series of special events designed to stimulate enthusiasm and create discussion: retrospectives, seminars and workshops on various aspects of cinema, as well as exhibitions, collaborations with theatre, dance, fashion, and music concerts. In order to encourage and assist filmmakers in their endeavours, the festival concludes with an awards ceremony, The RIFF Awards, which awards prizes of either monetary value or money in-kind. The winning films, in a number of categories, are chosen by an international jury of experts from various fields within the film industry.



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