Best of RIFF Shorts Fest to screen nine short films about kids in Ridgefield

A cinematic tradition exists that sends kids and teens off on their own, embarking on dangerous quests or having adventures. Their parents, if alive, are usually out of sight and not of any help. 

Often, the young protagonists are trying to save themselves, friends/family and face danger in such films as the “Harry Potter” series, “Zathura,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Outsiders,” “Hanna” and “Home Alone.”

Instead of its main four-day festival in October, the Ridgefield International Film Festival will present the Best of RIFF Shorts Fest Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Ridgefield Playhouse that focuses on youth in films.

RIFF’s founder Joanne Hudson, who debuted the festival in 2016, returns this year as director after some leadership transitions. As some of the festival venues were expected to be under construction this fall, it made sense to schedule the main festival for May 18-21, 2023. 

“I am so excited to be leading the festival that I founded and to reaffirm its mission to make the world a more compassionate place through the sharing of stories through cinema. With the shorts festival, we wanted to remind people of what we are doing,” she said, adding the festival is not only an economic boon to the town but a part of the region’s vibrant arts identity. “These films are inspiring, funny and surprising. They’re not films you are going to normally see.”

The lineup of shorts includes “Girls Don’t Cry Wolf,” “The Other Side,” “Koreatown Ghost Story,” “Make It Easy,” “Garden Party,” “The Opposites Game,” “Maradona’s Legs,” “How To Fall In Love in a Pandemic” and “Nothing Is Going to Change.”

Keeping cinephiles’ appetites sated, the event stays true to the festival’s mission and offers a 103-minute screening of nine short films. The theme, Are The Kids All Right - Raising Resilient Children in Cinema, is echoed in the shorts and will be explored in a panel discussion with film critic Joe Meyers and filmmakers on the history and language of youth in cinema, from Francios Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows,” to Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without a Cause” to Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

“If you are a cinephile or interested in the language of cinema, we are going to be having a discussion about cinematic language … we’ll be talking about how shots are framed, how they are lit, how they use mise-en-scene and all that kind of stuff,” Hudson said.

RIFF’s Emerging Filmmaker Award will be presented to former Ridgefielder Nicholas Burns for his film, “Nothing Is Going to Change.” Hudson said she and the committee found his film so inspiring and that it answered their question of if the kids are all right.

“I felt like here is a young person making an incredibly empathetic film,” she said. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Burns is an independent filmmaker who moved to Ridgefield at age two and graduated from Ridgefield High School and Emerson College. His family still lives in town but he recently relocated to southern California.

“I am very excited,” Burns said, explaining he has seen several of the featured shorts already. “They are incredible so I am just proud to be part of that lineup.” His film, whose title is deliberately open-ended and up for interpretation, centers on a video technician watching the daily video diaries of a customer he is transferring the tapes for, from an obsolete format. Burns was inspired by the idea of technologies used to record life’s quotidian moments that become obsolete and no longer available in the future.

For more information about the festival visit,