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Top 5 Reasons to Go to the Newport Film Festival

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By Andrea Meyer

IFC News

Almost a week back from the Newport Film Festival (June 6-11), and I’m still catching up on sleep. Maybe I’m getting old and can’t slam tequila like I used to, but there’s only so much back-to-back movie and party-going that one body can take. It had been much too long since I’d indulged in the wonders of a warm, welcoming regional fest, and this was a great one to break the fast with. Newport has many things to recommend. Here’s my top 5:

The chateaux: Newport is a coastal town in Rhode Island famous for its myriad sprawling mansions. I grew up in West LA and have seen my share of homes of the rich and famous, but these beachside manors, once inhabited by the likes of the Vanderbilts and Astors, belong in the Loire Valley in France. I took a drive along Bellevue Avenue, where the bulk of them are found, in a convertible and on foot did the famous six-mile Cliff Walk, which stands between the ocean and the mansions’ backyards.

The chowder: New England clam chowder is one of those things like pizza and sex — even when it’s bad it’s good. But when it’s good — creamy and spicy like they make it at the Black Pearl on Newport’s wharf — it’s heavenly. It’s considered the best in town — locals boast that even Governator Schwarzenegger became an addict when he was shooting “True Lies” in town. I was equally impressed with my grilled shrimp and scallop brochette.

The fab documentary program: Ultimately it’s the movies that make or break a festival, and Newport’s were outstanding — especially the docs. Culled from the best of the world’s fests, one after another made me laugh, cry, cheer, squirm, or wanna punch somebody. While I didn’t see a single clunker, I had some favorites: “The Trials of Darryl Hunt,” Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s Audience Award-winning stunner about a black North Carolina man convicted of raping and murdering a white woman by an all-white jury without a shred of evidence, who spent the twenty years in prison trying to prove his innocence; “Rank,” John Hyams’ profile of the three top ranking contestants in the fight for the bullfighting world championship; Kristi Jacobson’s “Toots” about legendary New York saloon-keeper Toots Shor; Chris Paine’s “Who Killed the Electric Car?” chronicling the life and premature death of GM’s emissions-free vehicle; “Thin,” Lauren Greenfield’s look at a group of girls battling life-threatening eating disorders; Gary Tarn’s Best Doc Award-winning “Black Sun” in which artist and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert tells his own story of being blinded during a mugging and learning to live and travel and create art as a blind man; and Andrew Walton’s “Arctic Son” about an aimless kid who gets some life lessons when he moves in with his dad in a tiny town in the Arctic.

Boozy events: When certain movies leave you in need of a drink, it’s a good thing there’s no shortage of cocktail receptions, parties, and after-parties, all conveniently sponsored by Stella Artois, Boru Vodka and Corazon Tequila. Highlights featured dancing to disco with the “Darryl Hunt” crew (including warm, wonderful Darryl and his equally wonderful lawyer Mark Rabil), a late-night get-together at an oceanside Italianate villa with a pool and a hot tub, and the very boozy awards ceremony brunch at The Chanler, one of Newport’s snazziest hotels, where the bloodies and mimosas we downed while Dianne Ladd was accepting a lifetime achievement award were almost as pretty as the view.

The getaway: Newport is a quaint town on the water with both luxurious hotels and quaint b&b’s, where the locals rally for its annual film festival. The people, from the staff to the volunteers (like Esther, everyone’s surrogate grandma) to the filmmakers provide excellent company, while the films and special events, like improv by SNL’s Rachel Dratch and her hilarious cohorts at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, provide non-stop entertainment. At a mere three-hour train ride from Penn Station, there’s no excuse to miss it.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

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Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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