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Arts festival kicks off in Pawtucket

The second annual Southeast New England Film, Music and Arts Festival kicked off last night in Pawtucket and will continue until Sunday.

The festival is organized by the Southeast New England Film, Music and Arts organization, a Providence-based nonprofit and stemmed from the desire to provide Southeast New England residents with an experience not available to them before, according to Philip Capobres, the festival's artistic director and co-founder.

Caprobres said there had been individual festivals in the area focused on art, music or film, but not one that "really combined all three." The festival's ultimate goal is to "get people into different things" that they may not have otherwise had an interest in, he said.

One way the festival attempts to promote this goal is by featuring all three mediums of expression in the same events. For instance, Wednesday's opening night was held at PeaceLove Studios, an art gallery in Pawtucket, but also featured live music and showings of experimental films.

To select artists, musicians and filmmakers to feature in the festival, Capobres said, organizers looked for a "wide variety" without focusing on any particular criteria or genres, but rather judging candidates and submissions on their own merits.

Film submissions were received from 40 countries around the world, and more than 70 international filmmakers are scheduled to attend festival events. Although music and art features are more locally focused because of the logistics involved in their organization, United Kingdom-based artist Michelle Gates will display her expressionist paintings at the festival.

"This is my first opportunity to exhibit overseas, and what better way to start than a multi-faceted event," she wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

For Connecticut-based artist Joe Niderno, the festival is a brand-new opportunity that allows him to show work that he only began producing a year ago. According to his Web site, Niderno is involved with a number of art forms, including painting, digital art, graphic design, art on skin and conceptual art. But his four pieces featured in the festival are oil, acrylic and digital paintings, he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

On being featured with musicians and filmmakers as an artist, Niderno wrote, "Great music and movies can create an atmosphere that I find to be inspiring. The proper atmosphere can help artwork achieve another level."

"I am a great believer (that) diversity is the key to enrichment, through film, music or art," wrote Gates, echoing Niderno's sentiments. "In saying this, they are all interwoven by a common thread, emotional expression. They complement and contradict each other, but always inspire us and challenge the way we think."

"By having more to offer, (the festival) will attract more of a crowd," Niderno added.

And attract it does. According to Capobres, around 2,000 people attended the festival's various events in its opening year last spring. This year, festival organizers are expecting a 50 percent increase in attendance, he said. While most attendees hail from the Providence area, organizers have expanded festival promotion to different areas such as Boston.

Many of the films to be featured Sunday were created by filmmakers from other parts of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Many festival events and screenings will take place at the Cable Car Cinema, including some free screenings of international documentaries and award-winning short films on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Feature films will cost $5 for students and $8 for the general public, the cost of admission to the majority of festival events.

Other events will take place at the Hampton Inn and Suites in downtown Providence and the Slater Mill Theater, YMCA and PeaceLove Studios in Pawtucket.




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