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The Athena Cinema on Court Street in Athens, April 13, 2024.

Annual film festival supports international films, videos for 51st year

It was the 51st year of the Athens International Film and Video Festival, and that meant another year of dog-themed advertisements spread across Ohio University’s campus and moviegoers converging at the Athena Cinema, 20 S. Court St. According to the film festival website, it is “known globally as a festival that supports cinema from underground and marginalized populations.”

Even Hunter Schafer, an actress popularized by the TV series Euphoria and her role in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,“ attended the festival. For the week of April 8-14, the Athena showed films from genres across the board including experimental, narrative, animation, documentary and more

Owen Keller, a sophomore studying film, has connections to some OU student filmmakers who were featured during the festival and also took an interest in attending it as well. This year, the Athena has been undergoing some structural repairs, meaning there is only one theater open for viewing. Keller said it can actually be a good thing, especially with the matinee options. 

“I think in general, people don’t need to make a decision, knowing they’re missing something by going to something else,” Keller said. “It allows the (crazieset) moviegoers to see as much as they can.” 

Once a film is submitted to the festival, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Many students within OU’s School of Film were a part of the festival staff. 

Kayla Jardinado, a sophomore studying film, is part of the social media team for the film festival this year, after working the ticket table at the festival last year. The social media team has been avid over TikTok, she said, for promotion of the festival. 

Throughout the week, there are different themed categories of films, such as true crime or experimental. For Jardinado, one of her favorite parts of the film festival is the spotlight on animation.

“I really encourage people to check out the blocks that interest them because there will be something that catches your eye, even if you don’t think it will,” Jardinado said. “There’s a lot of talent that goes into the film festival.”

As a film major working toward creating similar projects in film, she said it’s rewarding to see other peoples’ works get spotlighted and recognized. It also provides a way of networking and meeting other filmmakers. 

One of the experimental animation films displayed is titled “Ceaseless Translation,” directed by Alejandra Saldivar. She is currently pursuing an MFA in art practices, with a concentration in film, at CU Boulder. Her main focus now is on experimental animation, which “Ceaseless Translation” emulates. 

“What I find exciting about animation is that you don’t have any limits to what you can represent and how you can show anything,” Saldivar said. “There’s a very direct connection from your imagination to animation.”

One aspect of her film, she said, is how perception can be related to interpersonal relationships. Specifically with communication that is not exactly language. 

“I hope this idea of touch really comes out in the film,” Saldivar said. “The idea of touch in relation to the very abstract idea of care.” 

Cricket Arrison’s film, “Some Day All This Will Be Yours,” was also one of the films presented at the Athena during the festival.

Directed in her family home, Arrison described the film as “a piece that wrestles with the idea of inheritance, both physical and emotional.”

“I'm really interested in work that comes from a deep emotional place,” Arrison said. “I work at the intersection of comedy and horror, and I kind of think those two things become the same.”

The film festival this year received 2,200 submissions, of which only 235 were chosen. Arrison was recommended to submit her film to the festival as she said the Athens Film Festival’s reputation lends itself toward supporting new works.

“I feel really happy when my work is in places that I know are built by and for people who really love film,” Arrison said. 

As a film major, Keller is a part of an invested group of students interested in movies. 

“Anytime I go to the film festival, I definitely leave with something that will probably make an impression on how I, myself, make movies,” Keller said. “It's inspirational to have such a big collection of smaller, more independent films just readily available for this whole week.”


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