Sept. 19--Last year, the inaugural Film Festival of Columbus was a component of the Columbus bicentennial celebration.
But this year, organizers Chris Hamel and John Daugherty want the festival to thrive on its own.
"It needed to be longer," said Hamel, president of the Gateway Film Center. " We were tying the schedule around the ... (bicentennial celebration), so the festival was short. This year, it's eight days long, which is a significantly longer festival."
"We also learned that there's a lot of support for independent film," said Daugherty, a managing partner of Vital Film Works, a company that produces TV spots, music and corporate videos, and records music. "People really enjoy it."
For 2012, FFOCOL (pronounced like the word focal) offered 10 films during three days. This year, 17 feature films and a shorts program will be shown during the eight-day run.
The festival focuses on works by future Spielbergs and Scorseses.
"We want you to get a chance to see the major filmmakers of tomorrow," Hamel said. "What I'm looking for are interesting, challenging films by these up-and-coming young filmmakers."
And films will play a role in the Independents' Day festival taking place this weekend Downtown. FFOCOL will screen Good Ol' Freda, a film about a woman employed by the Beatles, at 8 p.m. Saturday in a temporary theater in the Residence Inn, 36 E. Gay St.
(Other film events taking place during Independents' Day include a 9 p.m. Friday screening of the short film Get Outside by central Ohio filmmaker Dan Gerdman, with the soundtrack performed live by the band Tin Armor; and a 2 p.m. Saturday program of short films selected by the staff at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Both events will take place at the Residence Inn.)
"One of the most important things about FFOCOL is that we want people to think of film as art, and the people of Independents' Day tend to view music as art," Hamel said. "It was a natural partnership, and we're big fans of Independents' Day. When the opportunity presented itself, we grabbed it."
Other events during the film festival include:
--A Monday program will feature short films made by Ohio filmmakers.
--A Wednesday "guitar night" program will highlight movies about music.
--On Thursday, director Sooney Kadouh will introduce his movie, This Narrow Place. Parts of the film were shot in Columbus, and post-production work was performed at Vital.
--On Friday, I Am Divine will be screened at the Garage, 40 E. Long St. Director Gabrielle Burton -- whose short film Kings, Queens & In-Betweens profiles the drag community in Columbus -- will appear at the screening.
The star of the festival, though, will be the city of Columbus.
"Our big mission," Daugherty said, " is to raise awareness for filmmaking -- get filmmakers to come to the city, get them to check out what we have to offer here in Columbus."
Daugherty and Hamel hope that the festival will continue to grow.
"We keep looking at the Cleveland Film Festival as a model of what FFOCOL can be," Hamel said. " I think they drew 100,000 people; it's one of the top 10 festivals. It shows that people in our region are excited about a festival such as this.
"Most importantly, it will foster more love of film as an art."
(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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