My first festival volunteering stop on my roadtrip across Canada and some of the US was in Providence with The Rhode Island Film Festival. I had never been in this town before and was thankfully being hosted through couchsurfing by an awesome couple called Amy and Mike. I was quite curious if and how the festivals over here would differ from the ones I’d been helping out at in Europe and Australia. As it turned this festival had a lot in common with the ones I am used to:
When I arrived I couldn’t find the volunteer coordinator as everyone, understandably, was really busy. I eventually spoke to someone working with the festival and arranged to pick up my t-shirt and pass at my first shift (of two scheduled). Also, my shift had been changed and it was now not three but six or so hours and in a different location. Glad I’d checked my email. The next day thankfully Amy and Mike, bless them, dropped me off at the new venue. There was nobody there. After a little while another volunteer turned up but had to leave again to pick up some promo materials for some filmmakers, so I was (wo)maning the desk by myself five minutes into my first shift with a lot of smiles and guesswork as to the prices of things, the audience award arrangements, length of movies and so on. At least I’d figured out where the toilets were, something vollies always get asked.
Anyway, the other staff and volunteers were cool and things went pretty well until we played a film we thought was a short film at the start of the next slot as there had been technical issues with it before. Only when a woman came out to tell us the film was actually 85 minutes long and asked when the next film would start did we cop on. Oh oh. Luckily most punters were pretty understanding (and got their money back), so we managed OK. I watched a few of the mainly short films, which were mostly pretty obscure. My favourite was a two minute film called Delmer Builds A Machine. After finishing around 6pm I stopped by the main theatre to finally pick up my t-shirt and double check the time and location of my second shift. I got told this one had also changed and was now in a different town, hm. So I took down the details and was about to leave when the girl I spoke with said oh wait, you’re not actually on for any more shifts at all. Lucky that I hadn’t walked away straight away, saved me a trip to Newport and I now suddenly had Sunday off. Cool.
We had a brilliant night out in town with some other local and visiting couchsurfers including dinner at Cuban Revolution, a quick stop at AS220’s Foo Festival and Waterfire, an amazing fire display in and around the Providence river including live music and food stalls. After some yummy bagels for breakfast and watching Amy and Mike’s boisterous pair of dogs, Lana and Figo play fight, we headed down to see Wagner and Me with Stephen Fry, interesting doc, but if you’re not too fond of Wagner’s music like myself it was a bit trying at times. Afterwards it was time for the culinary find of the day which came highly recommended by Paige, also a couchsurfer. It was a gorgeous (!) little cafe, i.e. snuggery, called The Duck and Bunny. We sat in the beautiful garden feasting on truffle fries, crepes and divine cupcakes while squirrels ran along tree branches overhead. Ah and we even came up with a new word (as you do). One of us misunderstood what the waitress had called the Banana Nutella cupcake and heard Banana Moontower instead. It was delicious, I’m sure the special moontower flavour made all the difference.
So this film weekend in Providence was quite surprising in many ways. While I didn’t get to spend much time with the people involved in running the festival, I just went with the flow and had an absolute blast with my CS hosts. They were incrediby generous and fun and showed me pretty much everything interesting there is to know about Providence. So it was the perfect start to my festival adventures on this side of the Atlantic!