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Film Festival of Columbus Joins Forces with Independents’ Day

Hope Madden Hope Madden Film Festival of Columbus Joins Forces with Independents’ Day
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Columbus gets the chance to expand its celebration of corporate liberation, as Independents’ Day 2013 and the Film Festival of Columbus (FFOCOL) decide to be independent together.

Nestled for the weekend of September 20 – 23 on Gay Street in downtown Columbus, Independents’ Day is an event that seeks to celebrate our town’s independent culture with a festival of bands, art, food, and this year, movies. FFOCOL provides the film component to the 2013 celebration, opening its own 8 day event amidst the Independents’ Day festivities on Saturday, September 21.

“FFOCOL kicks off on the Saturday night of Independents’ Day this year with Good Ol’ Freda,” says Chris Hamel, president of Gateway Film Center and FFOCOL programmer. “It’s about Freda Kelly, who had unprecedented access to the Beatles – what a perfect film to show at Independents’ Day! So we’re bringing the film to them.”

While nearly all of the rest of the FFOCOL lineup, running through Sunday, September 29, will show at the Gateway Film Center (1550 North High), Freda will screen at 8pm in The Residence Inn on Gay St.

“We’re bringing it to them,” Says Hamel, “I think people who’ve watched a lot of bands will want to take a break and watch a really great documentary. And hopefully that association will bring lots of them to FFOCOL after Independents’ Day.”

This is the first year the two fests have joined forces. The film festival began last year as part of Columbus’s bicentennial celebration.

Remembers Hamel, “The mayor’s office really wanted a film festival.” He says Gateway and Columbus’s Vital Film Works were tasked with creating a festival that featured undiscovered independent filmmakers and identified Columbus as a filmmaking community.

Now in its second year, FFOCOL’s mission hasn’t changed.

“Those are still my two goals when we program FFOCOL,” he says. “What can we bring to the market that will showcase independent films and up and coming filmmakers? And when these audiences come from outside the region to watch these movies, how can we introduce them to Columbus as a place to make films as well?”

It’s a mission that aligns well with the goals of the festival’s presenting partner, Film Columbus (The Greater Columbus Film Commission). Says Film Columbus executive director Thomas McClure, “Bringing excellent films and their filmmakers to Columbus helps promote Columbus as a filming destination.”

Hamel agrees. “It’s more about trying to bring young, emerging filmmakers to the city. Also, just being a regional destination for independent film, and to have a venue such as ours, encourages people to make films in Columbus and the area.”

A new facet to the festival this year is a specific focus on local film makers.

“There are a lot of great local filmmakers,” says Hamel. “Many of those we’re going to showcase in our shorts program.”

Monday night at 7:30, screening at the Gateway Film Center, will be a program of homegrown short films. Hamel reached out to local filmmaker Jason Tosteven to curate the program.

“Jason’s a passionate local filmmaker,” says Hamel. “He put an endless amount of time into it, and we’re grateful for that. The shorts he put together look really fascinating.”

Tostevin believes the program fits well with the aims of the festival.

“The festival has a couple of goals,” he says. “One is bringing people together around great cinema. Another is raising the profile of Columbus as a destination for filmmaking. The shorts program directly supports that mission with its focus on Columbus filmmakers. People who come will see quality filmmaking by people who live and work in Columbus.”

Aside from quality, locally made shorts, what else can audiences expect from the invitation-only lineup?

“I screened about 100 films this year to get to the final program,” says Hamel. “Obviously I have unique insight because I program the film center 52 weeks a year. I’m constantly seeking out or am inundated with people looking for us to play their films at the film center.”

He says he looked for films the market will find interesting.

“It’s really a vast mix,” he says. “Narrative films, and more documentaries this year because that’s what people really seemed to gravitate to last year.” Among the highlights are a film based on a David Sedaris tale, C.O.G., and the acclaimed crime drama Blue Caprice.

Another documentary is planned to screen off-site. I Am Divine is a work that chronicles the life of Harris Glenn Milstead, muse to filmmaker John Waters. It screens the second Saturday of the festival, September 28, at the Garage bar (40 East Long Street). The evening kicks off with cocktails and a preview of local documentary Kings, Queens & In-Betweens, followed at 9 by the film about the iconic drag queen.

Hamel credits John Daugherty, COO of Vital Film Works, for forging local partnerships and creating opportunities, in particular, this screening at the Garage.

“Although I want lots of screenings at the film center,” Hamel says, “I think the more other places we can bring film to people is good.”

He sees this community aspect as one of many things that sets FFOCOL apart from other film festivals.

“There aren’t a lot of FFOCOLs,” he says. “There are a lot of film festivals that show independent films around giant blockbusters. We’re not interested in showing the new Hunger Games three weeks before it comes out. It’s intentional that you don’t see those blockbusters at FFOCOL. We’re interested in bringing you films you can’t see.”

Normal ticket prices apply for films screening at the Gateway Film Center. The Garage screening of I Am Divine and Kings, Queens & In-Betweens is $5. The Independents’ Day screening of Good Ol’ Freda is free.

For more information, visit www.filmfestivalofcolumbus.com.

The full FFOCOL schedule:

Saturday, September 21
8:00 PM – GOOD OL’ FREDA – special screening at Residence Inn on Gay St.

Sunday, September 22
1:30 PM – TIME ZERO: THE LAST YEAR FOR POLAROID FILM
4:30 PM – THIS IS MARTIN BONNER
7:30 PM – C.O.G.
9:30 PM – KID THING

Monday, September 23
5:30 PM – SAKE BOMB
7:30 PM – OHIO GROWN SHORTS
9:30 PM – THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMED ALI

Tuesday, September 24
5:30 PM – TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY
7:30 PM – THE MISSING PIECE

Wednesday, September 25
5:30 PM – GOOD OL’ FREDA
7:30 PM – APPROXIMATELY NELS CLINE and IN SEARCH OF BLIND JOE DEATH
9:30 PM – MUSCLE SHOALS

Thursday, September 26
5:30 PM – C.O.G.
7:30 PM – GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA
9:30 PM – TIME ZERO: THE LAST YEAR OF POLAROID

Friday, September 27
1:30 PM – GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA
3:30 PM – KID THING
5:30 PM – TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY
7:30 PM – THIS NARROW PLACE featuring a Q&A with Director Sooney Kadouh
9:30 PM – BLUE CAPRICE

Saturday, September 28
1:30 PM – THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMED ALI
4:30 PM – THIS IS MARTIN BONNER
5:30 PM – TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY
7:30 PM – I AM DIVINE
9:30 PM – SAKE BOMB
9:30 PM – I AM DIVINE: Special screening at The Garage!
12:00 AM – +1

Sunday, September 29
1:30 PM – THE MISSING PIECE
4:30 PM – BLUE CAPRICE
7:30 PM – MUSCLE SHOALS

A full slate of movie reviews is available on my website www.maddwolf.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @maddwolf and like me on Facebook at facebook.com/MaddWolfColumbus.

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