When the Cindependent Film Festival returns late this summer (Aug. 29-31), attendees can expect an expanded, larger event than its inaugural run last year.
At a press conference, founder and creative director Allyson West noted that last year’s event drew 121 visiting filmmakers and an overall screening attendance of 2,104. Less than two months in, they’ve received 114 film submissions thus far, including feature films, music videos, screenplays and short films. Comparatively, in 2018 they received 356 in about eight months.
New this year is an opening night film competition presented by Drive Media House, a local commercial production company. Filmmakers and screenwriters alike can submit pitches for movies via one- to three-minute video. DMH will partner with the selected winning team to make their idea into reality, culminating in an opening night premiere.
“I love getting to work with new creatives and hearing their ideas and getting to work alongside them to make something special for them,” said Chris Powers, DMH’s creative director. “So that’s what we’re going to do.”
West said that Over-the-Rhine’s Woodward Theater will become their main hub for screenings; the space will allow them to accommodate 220 people per screening and provide concert-quality sound.
“We’re going to have four really rad locations that will put you all over the city, get you connected with our community here and really support our festival in special ways,” she said.
Just a short walk away on Main Street, the Mini Microcinema will be a filmmakers lounge and hub where attendees can connect over coffee, drinks and snacks. OTR’s Know Theatre — located on Jackson Street — will be home to screenplay readings. Of that, West said that there will a casting call in July with Heyman Talent to read the chosen screenplays; six actors in total will be cast. (Last year, scripts were read in Know Theatre.) Graydon Law rounds out the locations, playing host to “master classes” on various film-related topics.
“We’re very lucky that we’re able to add a few new locations to the festival,” West said. “Keeping everything tight and keeping everything here in Over-the-Rhine and primarily on Main Street.”
West — whom CityBeat readers named 2018’s Best Local Filmmaker in the Best Of Cincinnati issue — studied acting at the University of Cincinnati, moved to Brooklyn to and then returned to Cincy in 2014. The idea for Cindpendent came to be as West traveled with her short film Texican to fests across the country.
In an interview last year, she told CityBeat that, “I would go to all these different cities, these film festivals, and I’d have these amazing experiences. I kept coming back to Cincinnati and thinking, ‘I can’t believe we don’t have something like this here.’”
And so, she created a fest geared toward independent makers with no specifications of genre — just a celebration of creativity and film that the whole community can get in on.
Attendees can look forward to the fest’s after-parties, which West said will have a “funky, groovy” 1970s vibe to them.
Those interested in volunteering with the festival can email Emily Schulz at [email protected] for now. Currently, Schulz said the team is creating a volunteer portal for their website. The festival is currently open for submissions. For more info visit cindependentfilmfest.org.