Ridgefield Independent Film Festival wins support
With four days of films at venues around town, and people coming from near and far to see them — eating in restaurants, shopping in stores — the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival is the kind of thing town officials are eager to support.
The film festival— scheduled to run this year from Thursday, Oct. 10, through Monday, Oct. 14 — screens new documentary, narrative and animated films, awarding some $10,000 in cash prizes.
It shows movies at sites around town — at the Playhouse, Lounsbury House, the library, the theater barn, Keeler Tavern museum — and also has discussion groups and parties. The festival dates back to 2016.
The Board of Selectmen didn’t take long July 17 to approve a request from festival director Megan Smith-Harris to allow RIFF, as its known locally, to remain under town auspices.
“They’re asking if they could be considered under the Friends of Ridgefield,” First Selectmen Rudy Marconi told fellow selectmen.
The selectmen voted unanimously to allow the film festival to continue operating under the 501(c)(3) charitable organization tax status of the Friends of Ridgefield, a town-organized group that has charitable tax status and allows a number of legitimate local nonprofits to benefit.
The selectmen’s decision is expected to help the festival qualify for a $1,000 grant from the Lewis Fund.
The selectmen were curious about the situation.
“What was the concern?” asked Selectmen Bob Hebert.
“The number of board members,” Marconi replied. “It’s three. It’ll increase to five over the next year.”
The situation had been explained by Smith-Harris, who had requested the town’s help. RIFF’s grant application had been approved by the Lewis Fund, she said, but the organization “held off on sending us the funding because they wanted to see a larger board...”
Smith-Harris said she was unsure why the number of board members was considered significant, since the RIFF had 501(c)(3) status. But she didn’t want to risk losing the grant.
“Would the Town of Ridgefield be willing to help us out with this in just this one instance?” she wrote.
Marconi told fellow selectmen that it could be argued that RIFF had never formally lost its listing as a organization affiliated with the Friends of Ridgefield. “We never voted to take them off,” he said.
Hebert made the motion. It wasn’t a tough decision for the board.
“If we recognize them, they’d be able to get the $1,000 grant,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark.
Movies already accepted for this year’s festival range from Perfect Town, a five-minute animated short from Switzerland, to This Is Home: A Refugee Story, an hour-and-a-half documentary in Arabic and English that tells the stories of four Syrian refugee families who settled in Baltimore.