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Award-winning films find place in Columbus

Photos courtesy of the Film Council of Greater Columbus

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The longest-running film festival in the U.S. is about to start up again.

A product of the Film Council of Greater Columbus, the Columbus International Film+Video Festival will kick off for the 58th time tonight at the Gateway Film Center with “The Rivals,” a documentary about competing social classes in sports.

The CIF+VF has been around since 1952 because of the festival’s ability to evolve and change, said Susan Halpern, executive director of the festival.

“It used to be all educational films that sort of flew towardsdocumentary films, which are educational but they’re actually completely different,” she said. “Now, we have animation, sometimes we have narrative. … we’re more open.”

Apart from “The Rivals,” this year’s festival will feature student films Thursday, “Which Way Home,” a film about immigration, on Friday, and the popular “Saturday Morning Cartoons From Around the World” and “Movies + Mead Animation 4 Adults 3” on Saturday, all at the Canzani Center at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

The festival will move back to the Gateway Film Center on Sunday to conclude with the documentary “Percy Schmeiser: David Versus Monsanto.”

Films screened in the festival are up for the internationally renowned Chris Awards, named after Christopher Columbus. Films are submitted in the spring and broken into 13 divisions, each division having its own jury led by a jury chair. Each division picks a “best film,” which then moves on to the Best of Festival committee.

Some of the categories in the festival are social issues, humanities, arts, animation and science and technology.

Stacie Cells, the social issues chair and an Ohio State graduate, said environmental documentaries are prominent this year, and “Which Way Home,” a documentary about the dangers children face attempting to travel through Mexico to immigrate to the U.S., is topical, but not very uplifting.

“It was just really amazing how (‘Which Way Home’) coordinates to what’s going on and what’s happening,” she said.

Saturdays during the festival are typically devoted to animation. The animated films are usually some of the most popular, bringing in the largest crowds of the festival.

“Animation can break through many social-economic barriers to explain information from an entertaining and informative perspective,” said Ruedy Leeman, animation chair, in an e-mail.

The Saturday line-up of animation films tends to bring out the most people, and other screenings can struggle to fill seats.

Attendance for a given screening can range from 20 to 300, Halpern said.

“Our biggest struggle as a film festival is that we have these amazing films, it’s just getting people out to see them because they’re not big, Hollywood blockbusters,” she said.

OSU students get into all screenings at the Columbus College of Art and Design except for the Saturday evening cartoons free with a BuckID. Students can purchase tickets for the Saturday evening after-party for $10.

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