Fri 11/2-Sat 11/3
The Ohio Independent Film Festival got its organic start 25 years ago taking place in a nondescript Tremont storefront.
“It was just a group of local filmmakers who got together and decided there really wasn’t any venue for them to exhibit their films,” Ohio Independent Film Festival Board President Therese Grida said. “It just kind of took off from there.
“Over the years they used to do several different events annually, including a multi-day festival. Then a few years ago we scaled down so that it’s just one night or one day where we highlight the best films. We also do a pre-party sort of networking mixer the night before.”
Celebrating 25thyears, the Ohio Independent Film Festival is holding its 2018 event November 2 and 3 at the BOP STOP at The Music Settlement in Ohio City’s Hingetown neighborhood. Whereas the Rock Hall City boasts a certain major film festival every spring, Grida said this intimate affair is curated 100 percent from filmmaker submissions, which come in from around the globe, as well as Northeast Ohio.
“With us, everybody has an equal chance of getting in,” Grida said. “Lately, we’ve had a hard time narrowing it down to one day of films, which is crazy and a great problem to have. It’s like now we’re at this point, do we want to expand again and go back into a multi-day or just keep going with the one-day format.”
The 2018 festival includes 18 shorts and films, some of which come from as far away as the Netherlands, Germany and Iran, with Grida noting moviegoers won’t want to miss the early Saturday schedule.
“At 10:30am, we have Staring at the Sun which is about two Hasidic teens from New York City searching for freedom,” Grida said. “And then at 12:45pm, we have Huckleberry, which is about a transgender teen in a love triangle by filmmaker Roger Hill from University Heights.”
Other notable films include Anne and Andy, a love story loosely inspired by the children’s book Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy, as well as gritty family crime drama Crown and Anchor. The latter, which features a hardcore punk soundtrack, is written by and stars Canadian actor Matt Wells.
When it comes to the independent film world, there are a few challenges involved attracting the mainstream moviegoers. The first of which is a perception that the movies are second-rate or don’t live up to what’s playing in the nearby multiplex.
“There’s a stigma in a way,” Grida said. “That because they’re independently produced and not as well known around festival circuit or the mainstream circuit, the movies aren’t good. But these are good films. The quality and the content is excellent with a great message. That’s the hardest sell that people don’t really understand.”
As far as the vitality of the Ohio Independent Film Festival moving forward, Grida said the future appears bright.
“There’s definitely a place in Cleveland for this kind of grassroots effort again, and I think we’re in an upswing,’ Grida said. “This is a good time for us.”
[Written by John Benson]