Courtesy of Susan Halpern
A man’s life spirals downward when he starts to vomit bunnies. When Dana Turken read a short story with this premise by one of her favorite writers, Julio CortÃ¡zar, she thought it was prime material for a short film. What she didn’t know was that her film would ultimately win a Chris Award.
Turken, a University of California, Los Angeles alumna is the director and writer of the short film “Arthur and the Bunnies,” a student entry and Best of Festival winner at the Columbus International Film + Video Festival, also known as The Chris Awards.
The CIFVF, entering its 60th year, is the oldest and longest-running film festival in the United States, and is scheduled to begin Sunday and run through Nov. 18.
Founded in 1950 by the Columbus Film Council, the seven-day festival showcases films from around the world at venues such as the Gateway Film Center and the Canzani Center at the Columbus College of Art & Design.
Susan Halpern, executive director of the festival, said the CIFVF is “dedicated to serving filmmakers and their audiences by celebrating excellence in filmmaking,” and strives in “educating and entertaining people with the art and experience of film and video.”
The festival shows around 30 to 40 films during the week, Halpern said, but added since it gets about 300 to 600 entries per year that films are screened year round.
“We get a ton of great films and, because of screening venues and time constraint, we can’t show them all during one week, so the ones we’ve been showing up until this fall are the ones from last year that we didn’t have screen time to show,” Halpern said. “And during the main festival week are the best of what we get, it’s our big week.”
Anyone can enter work for the festival, as long as they own the rights to the film and the film has been made within the last four years or so. There is also an entry fee, which varies between the division and the length of the film, Halpern said.
Turken described her short film entry “Arthur and the Bunnies” as a dark comedy and said there was just something captivating about the tale.
“I knew that there was something absolutely compelling about this man who has this affliction where he keeps vomiting bunnies,” Turken said. “Such a powerful image that’s really silly and kind of assertive on the surface, but it’s actually chilling.”
Janet Parrott, an associate professor in the Department of Theater at Ohio State, said although she thinks the festival is significant, she would like to see it continue to grow and be more noticed in the community.
“I think it’s great. What I’d like to see is it get better support,” Parrott said. “I’d love to see it grow. I’d love to see it be a little more visible than it is. I think it was visible at one time and I think it’s not as visible as it used to be and what I would like to see is it keep going and get bigger and better.”
For Turken, the CIFVF was an opportunity to display her work to a larger audience.
“I think when you’re making short films, obviously you don’t usually get a wide release (but) we don’t make movies to put on our hard drives and this film I really thought, obviously you can watch it online, but I think it plays a lot better in a cinema setting in a theater with an audience,” she said. “And so it’s always exciting to have an audience watch your film.”
The CIFVF starts Sunday at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington in Worthington, Ohio, located at 777 Evening St. with a $25 “Film Treatments Workshop” at 1 p.m. Films will also be shown throughout the week at the Gateway Film Center for $5 and at the Canzani Center at the Columbus College of Art & Design, which offers free admission with a student ID, excluding the event “Movies+Mead” on Nov. 17.
The full festival schedule is available online.