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Photo provided via AIFVF Facebook page.

Athens International Film and Video Festival shines light on newcomers to short film

Film buffs and casual viewers alike can find something fun to do through Oct. 24 with the Athens International Film and Video Festival, or AIFVF. 

The festival will feature a packed schedule of different genres of short films, ranging from animated to documentary-style. All showings of the short films throughout the week will be in-person. 

Additionally, the festival will combine the originally postponed AIFVF 2020 films due to the coronavirus pandemic with the ones selected for this year.

Founded in 1974, the festival has been presenting international films for the last 46 years. The AIFVF is known globally as a film festival that supports cinema from marginalized and lesser-known populations. Its emphasis is on justice and providing a voice for underrepresented artists and viewpoints.

“Festivals like these are a great way to showcase artists that wouldn’t necessarily get as much representation in bigger types of theaters,” Collin Spens, a junior studying film production and student worker for the festival, said. “These aren’t films you would see in the Athena Grand or AMC, but they are kind of designed that way. They’re meant to go beyond what is considered safe.”

Throughout the last four decades, Athens has welcomed experimental, narrative, short film, feature-length and documentary films from all around the world, providing a worthwhile platform for filmmakers to share their work to the public and gain more exposure. Above all, the festival’s goal has always been to foster an environment that values unique artistry instead of marquee names or industry relationships.

AIFVF is a competitive process. Each year, a pre-screening committee, including artists, students and community activists, watch all the submitted films and videos. After all entries have been watched, the committee then evaluates all the films to determine which to include in the festival. 

“This festival is a good opportunity for all kinds of filmmakers from any genre to compete in,” Sean McCourt, a junior studying screenwriting and production and student worker for the festival, said. “Whether it be experimental or documentary, it is a good way to put their skills to the test. It gives them a great outlet to show their work and allow it to be picked up by someone who has good connections.”

Cash awards also play a role in the selection process, as filmmakers are awarded by guest jurors from four different categories: documentary, experimental, narrative and animation. Awards are typically announced on the final day of the festival. 

First prize in short narrative and short animation are Academy Award-qualifying and worth $500. The Black Bear Award is also given to the film that demonstrates the best use of sound. Lastly, the jury presents the Film House Award for visionary filmmaking.

Following the selection process, competition films are then programmed around various themes that are within the films selected. The AIFVF staff says its intention is “to group films into shows that reflect a common thematic thread.”

This year, 2,200 films were submitted to be displayed at the festival. From these, only 235 films from 41 countries were chosen.

AIFVF’s visiting artist lineup included Ohio University film alumnus Tony Buba, who served as the head of the documentary jury as well as presented a selection of his works Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. 

On Oct. 19, Amber Bemak and Nadia Granados, winners of AIFVF’s 2019 experimental top prize will present a solo program of their work revolving around queer love and loss and the political ramifications of patriarchal power at 7:15 p.m. 

Additionally, Bill Brown will be presenting a program of appropriated and reconfigured landscapes Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Topics will range from haunted houses and memorial architecture to outsider archaeology. 

Finally, on Friday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m., Sabine Gruffat will be presenting her works that cross analog and digital signals as well as a live expanded cinema performance with Brown. 

“This has been a really great year for the festival,” Alexandra Kamody, director of the Athena Cinema, said. “I think people are really happy to get back to the theater, and it feels very cathartic after the pandemic. The weather’s been perfect, people are happy to be here and the films have been great.”

The event also gained the support of many local Athens sponsors this year, including Bagel Street Deli, Jackie O’s Brewery, WOUB Public Media, Donkey Coffee & Espresso and more.

Tickets and passes can be purchased in person only at the Athena Cinema box office during regular theater hours, and OU students can receive free tickets on all days of the festival as long as they show a valid student ID at the ticket counter. 

A limited number of student tickets are available for each screening, and students can pick up tickets at the Athena Cinema for the current day only. Tickets cannot be obtained in advance.

@grace_koe3

gk011320@ohio.edu

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