RBIFF - Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival 2012

The schedule for the 15th Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival was released in late October. The event runs from Wednesday, November 7 to Sunday, November 11. The festival features some of the most acclaimed non-Hollywood narratives, foreign films and documentaries of the year. It also exhibits a great list of works from filmmakers from this region. Most were made right here on the Delmarva peninsula. Organizers note a record number of local entries this year with 10 local filmmakers getting to see their short films on the big screen, mainly on Friday and Saturday. Many of the filmmakers themselves will attend for Q and A. To see a list of the local films and their showtimes, check out the online film catalog here and go to Regional Showcase.

All films show at the Movies at Midway theater on Route One. Behind the multiplex, a large, white tent is erected where audiences can purchase tickets and memorabilia. The tent also hosts local businesses for food and beverage purchases. The tent has music and dance events that are related to the country of Italy, which is the spotlight at RBIFF this year. Films, past and present, from Italy are getting special screenings, the best that nation has to offer including selections from Frederico Fellini and Sergio Leone.

The festival has free and open discussions where knowledgeable guests speak about the filmmaking process or related topics. Professor Giorgio Melloni from the University of Delaware is scheduled specifically to talk about Italian cinema. His discussion is called 'Neorealism, Spaghetti Westerns and Beyond' and will be held at 9AM on that Saturday.

Of the independent films playing, here are the ones I would put on a must-see list for RBIFF 2012.

1. THE INVISIBLE WAR - Rotten Tomatoes keeps track of the best-reviewed movies of the year and this documentary that exposes the lack of prosecuting sexual assault in the military ranks at the top. Its score is 100 %, which means all 44 of the film critics who wrote about it liked the movie. The film won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It was nominated for the IDA Award for Best Feature. More importantly, the film also pushed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to change military rules. Not many films can claim to change the world, but this one can.

2. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN - The film follows two South Africans as they look to find out what happened to mythical recording artist, Rodriguez, who mysteriously disappeared after rumors of an on-stage suicide. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 95 % out of 101 reviews. It won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. It won Audience Awards at six film festivals. It's also nominated for the IDA Award for Best Feature.

3. TEDDY BEAR - This Denmark film tells the tale of a 38-year-old bodybuilder named Dennis searching for true love. He has never had a girlfriend and lives alone with his mother in a suburb of Copenhagen. Dennis travels to Thailand, inspired by his uncle who married a girl from there. Its RT score is 92 % out of 12 reviews. It won the Directing Award at Sundance as well in the category of World Cinema.

4. ROBOT & FRANK - Its RT score is 89 % out of 80 reviews. It won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance. The Alfred P. Sloan Prize honors movies that handle science and technology topics extremely well. Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank's son chooses a different option: against the old man's wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. Frank is played by Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon).

5. KEEP THE LIGHTS ON - It seems every year since Brokeback Mountain there has been one gay film that has risen from obscurity or the art-house circuit to mainstream acclaim. Last year, it was the British film Weekend. This year, it's this story of addiction from Ira Sachs. It won the Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for Best Feature Film LGBT. Its RT score is 87 %.

6. SAMSARA - Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on 70mm film, this movie immerses the viewer in sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. According to reporter Maggie Lange for IndieWire, this film "has become Oscilloscope Laboratories' biggest hit since its founding in February 2008." Samsara premiered on August 24 in New York and Seattle to the highest per-screen-average of any documentary released in 2012.

7. THE DYNAMITER -Aside from a handful of film festivals, this movie did not get a theatrical release, so it has no box office or Rotten Tomatoes score at all. Unless you're a member or subscriber of Film Movement, you probably have never even heard of this movie. It was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award as well as a Spirit Award for Best Cinematography. The teenage star, William Ruffin won two Best Actor Awards, one at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa and the other at the Nashville Film Festival in Tennessee.


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