RIFF redux:

55 films from 19 countries May 19-21 at second independent film festival in Ridgefield

 

Here are some film fest facts:

Five venues for films: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum’s Leir Gallery, Keeler Tavern Museum’s Carriage Barn and Ridgefield Library, all on Main Street; Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Road, Prospector Theater, 25 Prospect Street.

Filmmakers’ countries: Australia, Brazil, South Africa; Middle East [Israel, Iran, Palestine]; Europe [Andorra, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, U.K.]; Asia [India, Singapore, Taiwan] and U.S.

Joshua & Hans Fischer

Special events: RIFF’s opening night reception, Friday, Aldrich Museum, 7-9:30, with Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian Jeffrey Tambor as special guest; open to all-festival pass holders. Saturday Night Marquee Screening [What Children Do], 7, Ridgefield Playhouse, after-party, 9:30. Awards ceremony and closing party, Sunday, 2-5 p.m., Keeler Tavern’s Garden House; with d’oeuvres and drinks. Father/son Ridgefield artists Hans Fischer,  painter, and Joshua Fischer, designer, collaborated on cover for RIFF Festival Guide and this year’s RIFF Awards, to be presented in eight categories.

Classes: The Aldrich’s Studio is site for master classes on Saturday: Storytelling for Filmmakers, 11 a.m.; Film Style and Form: How Visual Elements Communicate Action and Emotion, 1 p.m.; Voice-Over Acting, 3 p.m.

Prices: $10 to $25 for single tickets; $75 all-film pass; $100 all-festival pass; additional fees from $1.49 to $5.99. Donations accepted.

RIFF.website: Film schedules, sneak preview videos, brief film descriptions, map with locations of venues, shops and restaurants, etc., online tickets orders and more. RIFF was founded by Joanne Hudson, a local playwright and theater director. It’s a nonprofit that relies on grants, donations and sponsorships from businesses and individuals.

Playwrights Festival May 19-21

Theatre Artists Workshop’s annual benefit, the Spring 2017 Playwrights Festival, will take place on Friday and Saturday, May 19 and May 20, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m., at the TAW theater, 5 Gregory Blvd., Norwalk. Eight plays ranging from comedies to dramas, dramatic monologues, fantasy and mystery will take the stage. Tickets are $25. Reservations are recommended at taworkshop.org, 203-854-6830.

Productions: The Basement of Everything You Need, “claustrophobic, dystopian drama” by Fran Dorf of Stamford; First Flight, drama by award-winning playwright Rosemary Foley of Fairfield; Cue Cards for Clueless Men, comedy, also written, and directed, by Foley; Spring Cleaning in Hell, comedy by Rowayton playwright and Shakespeare groupie Mary Jane Schaefer; Failure to Extract, dramatic monologue by Frank Izzo of Westport; Stacy & Doug, mystery by award-winning playwright Jim Gordon; Friend from the City by playwright/screenwriter Fred Stroppel of Glen Cove, N.Y.; Playdate, dramatic monologue written and directed by Wilton playwright/filmmaker, Megan Smith-Harris.

Sit back and let the evening go

On their Get Back Tour, four lads from Liverpool are coming to The Palace Theatre in Danbury for a show Friday, May 19, from 8 to 10 p.m. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. To celebrate the occasion, The Mersey Beatles, who really are from Liverpool, will play the entire album live. The appropriately costumed and coiffed Mersey Beatles recreate the Beatles’ sounds and images using replica Hofner, Rickenbacker and Gretsch guitars and VOX and Ludwig gear. From 2002 to 2012, they were the resident tribute band at The Cavern Club, the nightclub in Liverpool, England, where the Beatles performed their act before embarking on their worldwide rock music revolution in the 1960s. Tickets range from $30 to $40 and may be ordered at palacedanbury.com or by calling 203-794-9944.

Stones tribute show

‘Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show’ will take the Ridgefield Playhouse stage on Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m. This tribute show, called “one of the best” by Rolling Stone Magazine, celebrates and recreates the look, sound and the attitude of the Stones. For tickets, $35, visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org or call 203-438-5795.

 

Two arts shows in Milford

Our Fine Feathered Friends is the new exhibit opening at the Milford Arts Council’s Firehouse Gallery, 81 Naugatuck Avenue, Milford. The opening reception is Thursday, May 18, 6-8 p.m. The gallery’s hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10-5. Admission is free for the show that runs until June 24. For more information, visit milfordarts.org/firehouse-art-gallery/exhibits or call 203-878-6647.

The Creative Arts Show, also free and open to the public, takes place on Friday, May 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Milford Senior Center, 9 Jepson Drive. Works on display were created in art classes, including ceramics and knitting groups, and represent for the artists “Our Favorite Things.” For more details, call Amanda Berry, program director, at 203-877-5131.

 

 

Golden Lion tamarins — Shannon Calvert photo

Zoo to fete Endangered Species Day

The 12th annual Endangered Species Day will be observed on Friday at Beardsley Zoo In Bridgeport with a special proclamation by Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim on Friday, May 19, at 11 a.m. at the zoo. Annie Hornish, Connecticut senior state director of the Humane Society of the U.S., will also attend. Started in 2006 by the U.S. Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places. The goal of Endangered Species Day is to educate people about the importance of protecting our rare, threatened, and endangered animal and plant species. Many of Beardsley Zoo’s 300 animals are endangered or threatened in their natural habitats, including the Red and Mexican Wolves, Brazilian Ocelot, Amur Tigers, and others. Conservation and protecting endangered species is a key part of the Zoo’s mission, with 25 cents from each paid admission to the zoo earmarked for helping critically threatened or endangered animals. Most recently, in March, Beardsley Zoo pledged a donation of $2,000 to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) effort to save a small species of porpoise, the vaquita. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.com.

Free arts activities at Oxford Festival

The Oxford Cultural Arts Commission’s Oxford’s Face 2017 festival and exhibit starts with a gala opening reception with music and an art show on Friday, May 19, 6-9 p.m. Then on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21, 10 to 4, a range of arts activities take place in Oxford Town Hall, 486 Oxford Road, Oxford Grange #194 and the surrounding area. Free events include music, concerts, poetry salon, theater programs, artist demonstrations, gallery tours, workshops for adults, plus face painting, drawing and coloring for kids. The Claudettes perform at the grange Saturday at 7 p.m. For more details, go to oxfordculturalarts.org

Plant sales in three towns

Long Hill Garden Club of Trumbull’s annual plant sale on Saturday, May 20, at Trumbull Library grounds, 33 Quality Street, runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For sale will be hundreds of locally grown perennials, native plants, grasses, shrubs and small trees, herbs, heirloom tomato plants, and Bee Happy products. Orders for rain barrels from the Aquarion Water Company may be placed, and certified master gardeners will offer advice. For more details, visit longhillgc.org

The Bethel Garden Club’s annual plant sale is also on Saturday, at 141 Greenwood Avenue, behind the United Methodist Church. Running from 9 to 1, it features locally grown perennials, organic heirloom tomato plants, garden-related items and a raffle. Master gardeners will offer free gardening advice. Proceeds go toward public gardens planted and maintained by the club; Shoppers are advised to park on School Street. For more information, email [email protected].

The Greens Farms Garden Club’s 33rd perennial plant sale is in and around the Sherman Green Gazebo, 1451 Post Road in downtown Fairfield on Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. For sale will be a wide variety of member-grown perennials, natives, plants and shrubs to attract birds and butterflies, planters, gardening gloves and more. Garden club members will give advice. For more deals, call Jane Guenther at 203-895-5595 or visit greensfarmsgardenclub.org.

 

— Barbara Paul photo

‘Theyyam Ritual Dance – India’ in new photo exhibit

The Norwalk Public Library will present “Theyyam Ritual Dance – India,” a photography exhibit by Barbara Paul, from May 20 to June 24, in the foyer and main reading area, at 1 Belden Avenue, Norwalk. An artist reception for Paul will be held on Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. All are welcome to stop in to speak with the artist and enjoy light refreshments.

The library provided details about the photographer and her work.

“Barbara Paul’s longtime interest has been to seek out and photograph traditionally costumed people at tribal festivals around the world. Theyyam dances were among the most exceptional experiences she had ever encountered. This ancient Hindu form of ritual dance is a spectacular display of religious devotion , which has long been practiced in the Kerala region of Southern India. Elaborately costumed dancers have their faces intricately painted and wear enormous headdresses and wide, brightly colored skirts. They take on the forms of revered Gods and Goddesses as they dance to the accompaniment of frenzied drumming in the sandy courtyards of village temples. These dancers are lovingly observed by villagers, who line-up at the end of the dance to ask for blessings. At night, Theyyam dancers jump through huge fires, lending even more excitement to the ritual.”

A Westport resident for many years, she “photographs people living in remote regions of Asia, Africa and other parts of the world, where few travelers visit.” For more details, call 203-899-2780 or visit norwalkpubliclibrary.org.

Explore, innovate, play for free

Exploring, innovating and playing will all be free at the Discovery Museum, 4450 Park Avenue, Bridgeport on Saturday, May 20, from 10 to 4. The day of learning fun with the themes Explore! Innovate! Play! includes a free book for every child who attends; Make-and-Takes including Lava Lamps, Floam and Kite Making; Live Science Demos: Mad Science and Fire and Ice; Planetarium shows: Live Science On A Sphere presentations featuring Exoplanets and Climate Change; ScribbleBots and take-home activities; rocket launches at 2 p.m.; short films by Curiosity Stream in the Energize CT Theater. And guests can explore three floors of interactive, hands-on exhibits and science fun. For more information, visit discoverymuseum.org or call 203-372-3521.

 

Bike rides in Fairfield and Trumbull

The National Bike Month Ride around Fairfield will be marked on Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m. at Southport Beach. The ride marks the debut of town-installed air pump and bike repair stations at strategic locations on official town bike routes. This event is the first of five 2017 Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee events. For more details, visit ldct.org or fairfieldct.org/bikeped. The rain date is May 21.

The Spring Historical Bike Ride, with Trumbull historian and author Sue A. Del Bianco will take off on Sunday at 11 a.m. from the Tait Road commuter parking lot in Trumbull. Then, riders will bike from through the Trumbull Valley to Monroe. There will be stops for historical points of interest, including an old mill, a fountain pool from an old amusement park, a cow tunnel, the site of WWII plane crash, a suspected witch’s grave and more. The event is free. For more details, email [email protected] or 203-260-5394.

 

Identifying trees while on stroll

The Trees All Around Us walk is set for Saturday, 10:30 to noon at the Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield, 2325 Burr Street. This guided, spring-time exploration through the Larsen Sanctuary will help visitors gain basic tree identification skills. The fees are $2 for members, $4 for non-members. To register, go to ctaudubon.org/center-at-fairfield or call 203-259-6305, x109.

 

 

Ambassador wolf Atka — Rebecca Bose photo

Birthday Bash for Atka the wolf Saturday

The Wolf Conservation Center at 7 Buck Run, South Salem, N.Y., will celebrate the birthday of the center’s oldest and most popular wolf, Atka, (born May 17, 2002), on Saturday, May 20, at 11 a.m. Guests will learn about wolf families and can watch Atka tear into his “wolfy gifts.” Admission is $14 for adults and $11 for children under 12. Registration is required at nywolf.org.

 

Health fair Saturday in Shelton

St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s MVP Health Fair will take place on Saturday, May 20, noon-3 p.m., at the Sports Center of Connecticut, 784 River Road (Route 110), Shelton. Mammography screenings will be offered in St. Vincent’s mammography coach. For an appointment, call 203-576-5500. Hospital representatives from cardiology, family birthing and orthopaedics will conduct blood pressure screenings, sugar screenings and provide guests with information to help keep their families healthy. For more information, visit stvincents.org.

 

Music, art, parade at Fairy Festival

The Bellamy-Ferriday Fairy Festival on Saturday runs from noon to 4 at the Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden, 9 Main Street North in Bethlehem. There will be art, crafts, music, maypole dancing, a fairy and wizard parade, fairy ring theater and food and beverages. Visitors to the five-acre Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will find out about 18th-century evangelical pastor Joseph Bellamy, who influenced colonial life and preached with fervor throughout New England. There’s also Miss Caroline Ferriday, a 20th-century philanthropist, who championed human rights and social justice causes around the world. Besides the residence, there are barns and a formal parterre garden. The Connecticut landmark is open May through October, including Memorial Day. Check ctlandmarks.org for hours. Admission to the festival and site is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12; free for kids under 6. For more details, visit ctlandmarks.org or call 203-266-7596. The rain date is May 21.

 

‘Sweet Liberty’ screening in Westport

The Westport Cinema Initiative will host a screening of the 1986 film “Sweet Liberty” starring Alan Alda on Saturday, May 20, at 4 p.m., in Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue. The 1986 comedy was written and directed by Alda, with a cast that includes Michael Caine and Michelle Pfeiffer, with support from Bob Hoskins, Lois Chiles, Lillian Gish and Larry Shue. Alda plays a college history professor whose historical novel about the American Revolution is about to be turned in a Hollywood movie. The screening is being held in partnership with the Westport Library’s fundraiser BOOKED for the Evening on June 5, which is honoring Alda. There will be a discussion after film, Tickets, $10, are available at the door or online at westportcinema.org.

 

Frank & Liza tribute show

The swinging sounds of Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli are going to be brought to the stage at the White Plains Performing Arts Center, 11 City Place, White Plains, N.Y, by tribute artists Michael Dutra and Gailynn Addis, backed by the Strictly Sinatra Band. Frank & Liza Together Again is on the bill for Saturday at 7 p.m. Besides the show, there’s the third annual fundraiser Casino Night. Tickets, $25-$40, are available at wppac.com or 914-328-1600; plus $25-$40.

 

Martini Madness gala

The Westport Arts Center will honor the late Harold Levine, “quintessential ad man, art patron” and ad agency founder, and Derek Goodman, arts contributor, at the Martini Madness fund-raising gala on Saturday, May 20, 5:30-11 p.m., at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport. Details: westportartscenter.org or 203-222-7070. Main Street to Madison Avenue is the Westport Arts Center’s current exhibit.

 

Hewitt in benefit harp concert

The Connecticut Harp Ensemble concert takes place on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church of Fairfield, 2475 Easton Tpke. Celtic harps will be led by Haley Hewitt, the winner of the 2013 U.S. National Harp Championship, who has established Celtic harp programs at Quinnipiac University and the Neighborhood Music School. The concert is a fundraiser for student harp scholarships. The suggested donation at the door is $12 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. For more details, go to firstpresby.net or call 203-374-6176.

 

Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ on Saturday

Norwalk Symphony Orchestra’s maestro Jonathan Yates will fulfill a long-held dream — bringing Mahler’s Second Symphony, “Resurrection,” to the Norwalk Concert Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. For the orchestra’s 77th season finale concert, Yates will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. with the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut, which is conducted by Dr. Carole Ann Maxwell. Tickets, $10-$50, are available at norwalksymphony.org or 203-956-6771.

 

Fine Arts Quartet in finale

Danbury Concert Association’s final concert of 2016-17 season features the Fine Arts Quartet and guest artist pianist Alon Goldstein, with Alexander Bickard on double bass, on Sunday at 3 p.m. The concert takes place in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall, Visual and Performing Arts Center, Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. Selections include works by Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, and Johannes Brahms. A meet-the-artists reception follows. Admission for non-subscribers is $20. For more details, visit danburyconcert.org or call 203-748-2177.

 

New Music at Barn season starts

Weston Historical Society’s 2017 Music at the Barn monthly outdoor concert series will feature local musicians, bands and performers on Sundays, 5:30-7 p.m., at Coley Homestead, 104 Weston Road, May 21-Aug. 27. No reservations are required. Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets, food and beverages. If it rains, the concert will be indoors and chairs will be set up. The fees are $10 for members, $15 for non-members; free for kids. On May 21, performing is Old School Revue, which specializes in great American soul and jazz, “showcasing the most unusual and quirky repertoire of vintage chestnuts from the past 60 years.”

 

Colonial day for families

Westport Historical Society will mark Colonial Family Fun Day on Sunday, May 21, from 1-5 p.m., at its 25 Avery Place (across from Westport Town Hall) location. The day will shed light on life for children in the 18th Century. Activities for kids of all ages include churning butter, making a popular confection of period, silhouette making, colonial games, planting a kitchen garden, and stories about the century. There will be a refreshment table and coloring activities. Visitors can having their picture taken with a live Minuteman. The Danbury Raid exhibit and artwork by Katherine Ross will be on view. Admission is $5 per person and free for 2 and under. Tickets are available at westporthistory.org. For more information, call 203-222-1424. The society’s Adams Academy, at 15 Morningside Drive North, Westport, will be open to visitors for free tours on Saturday, 1-3 p.m.

 

Connecticut’s role in Great War

Norwalk Historical Society will host a lecture by Christine Pittsley entitled: The Role Connecticut Played During World War I, on Sunday, May 21, at 2 p.m., at the Norwalk Historical Society Museum. The talk will cover how Connecticut contributed to war effort from the trenches to the home front. Pittsley is from the Connecticut State Library where she is chair for the Connecticut World War One Centennial Committee. Tickets, $5, are available at norwalkhistoricalsociety.org. Parking is available at Norwalk City Hall, at 125 East Avenue. The museum is the red brick house with blue double front doors, next to the Norwalk Health Department. World War I Memorabilia Digitization Day is May 20. WWI memorabilia is to be scanned, photographed and digitized and added to the State Library’s growing online World War I Collection. Items will be returned. Check with your local library to see if and when it is having such an event.

 

Ben Vereen

Magic to do: Ben Vereen at Ridgefield Playhouse

Tony Award-winning Broadway icon Ben Vereen, actor, singer and dancer, will perform on Sunday, May 21 at 8 p.m. at the Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Road. Vereen will perform numbers from Pippin (for which he won the Tony Award) Jesus Christ Superstar, Fosse, Chicago, Wicked and more.  He’ll also tell stories about some of the Broadway greats he has worked with. Vereen is not only famous for his stage performances, but also for his screen performances. He is best known for his iconic role as “Chicken George” in the groundbreaking television miniseries Roots. He has guest starred on the television shows Grey’s Anatomy (which won him a Prism Award), Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. He also appeared in the Emmy-nominated made-for-TV movie An Accidental Friendship, for which he earned a NAACP nomination. He also had a recurring role on the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Ticket holders are invited to visit Bailey’s Backyard at 23 Bailey Avenue, Ridgefield, for dinner and receive 10% off when you show your ticket. Tickets, $75, are available at ridgefieldplayhouse.org and 203-438-5795.

And coming up…

Wilton Library’s new art exhibition and reception, Monday, May 22, 6-7:30 p.m. Weir Farm Artist-in-Residence Kathy Stark, who works with patterns in nature and music, will be featured. Free but registration suggested at wiltonlibrary.org or 203-762-6334.
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Generation Startup; screening of documentary on struggles and triumphs of six college graduates who attempted startup businesses in Detroit; Tuesday, May 23, 7 p.m., Ridgefield Playhouse; tickets $10, ridgefieldplayhouse.org or 203-438-5795; Q&A with Cheryl Miller Houser, co-director and producer and Brian Egan, producer, and others.
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Read Around Stratford Historic Walking Tour, Thursday, May 25, 4:30 p.m. Children ages 6-12 accompanied by their grown-ups can join Stratford Library on walking tour of historical buildings near the library; then picnic on Academy Hill. Registration: stratfordlibrary.org or 203-385-4165.
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Ridgefield native and founder of the long-standing high school literary magazine Lodestar, Janet Benton, returns to Ridgefield, Thursday, May 25, 7 p.m., at Ridgefield Library, to discuss Lilli DeYong, her debut novel. To register, visit ridgefieldlibrary.org; details: 203-438-2282.

A&L email: [email protected]

Website: arts.hersamacorn.com