The Athens International Film and Video Festival will return once again Friday, bringing diverse film concepts, genres and styles from around the world to the Athens screen.
The festival, which began in 1974, will showcase films that span four categories: documentary, experimental, narrative and animation. Participants around the world are invited to partake in the competition. This year, 235 films from 41 countries were selected by a pre-screening committee out of 2,200 submissions.
The films will be shown Friday through April 7 and will be available free of charge to all Ohio University students at the Athena Cinema, 20 S. Court St. General admission for adults ranges between $5 and $6.50 for individual screenings, as well as a $50 “all-you-can-watch” pass available to those interested.
David Colagiovanni, professor in Ohio University’s School of Theater and director of the festival, said having the films in Athens is notable because students and community members can be at the center of the festival while appreciating the creations brought to the city.
“(The festival) has a long history of showing independent cinema, experimental film, documentary, animation, things that are not necessarily inside of a studio system that you might have at megaplex, for instance,” Colagiovanni said. “Athens has always valued art above marquee names and the glitz and red carpets of other places.”
Justine Thomas, a third-year MFA student, said the uniqueness of the festival and its long-standing, iconic reputation at OU greatly impacted her choice to attend.
"One of the reasons I came to Ohio University was actually this festival,” Thomas said. “The fact that the festival was so diverse and large for being in Ohio was a really big selling point for me to come here.”
Over the seven days of the festival, there will be various themed blocks for each day the films are shown, demonstrating multiple categories to which each submission corresponds. The blocks represent a common element across the films, but the films within the category may vary in style and execution.
Joe Tufte, a third-year MFA student, has a film playing in the “Here and Queer” block, showcasing films that represent the queer community in some fashion. Tufte said the intimate nature of the film’s topic is fulfilling to share within a festival that celebrates and represents the exploration of the arts.
“(My film) is about a person who cleans up their parents' house after their dad dies and then goes to a funeral,” Tufte said. “It's so exciting to be in a queer block. I'm excited to see how other queer people are represented within that block.”
The representation that the films offer, Colagiovanni said, is significant to how the festival serves the community, as the festival is known for providing a place for underrepresented voices to be heard.
“It serves people that are in town not associated with the university that have been coming to the festival for (several) years,” Colagiovanni said. “We have a lot of patrons that come back every single year and will watch 30 blocks of films in a week. They save all their tickets, and the back of their program is all marked up with highlighter and pencil and all the notes (about) everything that they saw. It's a wonderful thing.”
For Thomas, her experience as both a participant and a viewer provide her with a holistic and meaningful experience during the festival.
“I think it's really cool how it's set up for students as well as the community,” Thomas said. “It's been really incredible to be able to both be a student that works the table and gives the tickets … but then also be in the audience, watching them as being just as much someone who watches it.”
Through the diverse films available from local students and filmmakers around the world, Thomas said the festival is very insightful for those who attend.
“You get to watch really artsy movies that you normally wouldn't get to watch,” Thomas said. “But you always end up leaving a block thinking about at least one movie where you're like, ‘That one connected to me,’ and the fact that all of the blocks have so many different types of movies ... You always leave like expanding your worldview.”