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Wex Spotlights Ohio Filmmakers

Hope Madden Hope Madden Wex Spotlights Ohio Filmmakers
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The Wexner Center for the Arts has a long history of spotlighting the work of national and international filmmakers – such as Brazilian cinematic heavyweight Nelson Pereira dos Santos, who stopped by the Wex this week as part of their Via Brasil program. But each year, they take a moment to encourage and share Ohio-born filmmaking with Ohio Shorts.

Begun 18 years ago to create opportunities for local filmmakers to screen their work in a theatrical setting, the contest accepts films from adults and youth, narrows the field to a handful of the best pieces, and then screens a program of the top honors.

Ohio Shorts Youth Division showcased its winners Monday, April 15. An offspring of Ohio Shorts, the youth division competition began in 2004, collecting entries with a running time up to 5 minutes, from Ohio filmmakers 18-years-old and younger.

Says Jean Pitman, the Wex’s Educator for Youth Programs, “Our purpose is to showcase youth perspectives – as opposed to adult ideas about what a youth perspective is – and give voice to the incredible diversity of youth culture, voices and techniques here.”

This year’s top honor went to “Finding Happiness” by Liv Barney, a 17-year-old Hilliard Davidson High School student. Her stop-action animation piece topped 62 submissions.

This Saturday, April 20, the Wex will announce the top prizes for the adult division. The best 13 shorts screen at 7 pm in a program that includes animation, documentary, drama and dance. Says Jennifer Lange, curator of the Wex’s Film/Video Studio Program, “There’s a ton of talented filmmakers and artists here in Ohio. It’s fun to follow the careers of those who regularly submit, and so awesome to be surprised by someone new!”

What is the jury looking for? “I think it’s a combination of originality, content, and execution, although I think I speak for my fellow judges this year when I say that content and originality trump production value,” says Lange. “I’ll take a great story or original idea over perfect lighting and fancy titles any day.”

For the first time, cash awards will go to the top filmmakers and an audience award will be handed out after the screening.

“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and so it was just a matter of time, really,” Lange says of the cash awards. “While equipment and technology has definitely gotten cheaper over the years, it still costs a lot of money to make a movie. This is our way of acknowledging that and, hopefully, encouraging people to keep making work.”

She says that asking the audience to participate by awarding their own favorite is a way of engaging them in a different way. “There’s such a wide range of work in the program and it’s all really good,” says Lange. “I’m happy to give them a taste of how difficult it is to judge!”

A reception follows the showcase, which Lange hopes will encourage the audience conversation to continue. “For me,” says Lang, “that’s what it’s really all about.”

The adult division showcase is open to the public. Admission is $3. For more information, visit www.wexarts.org/film-video/ohio-shorts.

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