Cincinnati Film Festival Opens Tonight!

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New Cincinnati Film Festival (CFF) Director of Programming Brandon Harris isn't shy about pimping the quality of his choices for this year's fest: “This represents the most ambitious and internationally acclaimed program of films ever screened in Cincinnati.”—-

After glancing at the slate of 90 films, 33 of which are of the full-length variety, it's hard to argue with him. Harris, who remarkably came on board in August for a festival that runs tonight-Sunday at The Cincinnati Club (30 Garfield Place, Downtown), is a Silverton native and Brooklyn transplant who writes about independent and international cinema for Filmmaker Magazine. (Read my interview with CFF Executive Director Kat Steele here.)

“We're focused on establishing a reputation for having the edgiest and most eclectic film programming of any film festival in the region,” Harris says. “I think the breadth and quality of this year's selection is light years ahead of what audiences have come to expect around here, as will be evident to both casual filmgoers and the most ardent cinephiles alike.”

Harris has brought in films that have played some of the biggest and most respected festivals in the world — from Cannes and Rotterdam to Sundance and SXSW — including Darfung Dennis' To Hell and Back Again, which won the World Cinema Documentary Best Director prize at Sundance in January, and Alastair Banks Griffin's Two Gates of Sleep, which debuted during the Cannes Director's Fortnight last year.

He's also cherry-picked a few works from Filmmaker Magazine's “25 New Faces in Independent Film for 2011,” a list Harris help to compile, which includes Mark Jackson's Without, Damon Russell's Snow on Tha Bluff and Sophia Takal's Green, which New Yorker film editor Richard Brody praised by writing that Takal “coaxes melodrama from first-person naturalism and smartly blends the allure of genre with do-it-yourself intimacy.”

There are a number of other intriguing offerings, including Zach Parker's thriller Scalene, a favorite on the festival circuit; Louise Palanker's music documentary Family Band: The Cowsills Story; and Zack Godshall's Lord Byron, a slanted, true story of sorts that Village Voice critic Michael Atkinson calls “toxically goofy.”

CFF also has six features in its Narrative Competition and nine in its Documentary Competition; winners will be announced 7 p.m. Sunday at an awards program. And, of course, the festival features works by a number of area filmmakers, including Eric Mahoney's documentary North Dixie Drive (read CityBeat contributor tt stern-enzi's interview with Mahoney here) and Patrick Steele's supernatural thriller True Nature, which opens the festival 7 p.m. tonight.

In short, there's seems to be something for filmgoers of nearly every stripe, so dig in.

For more information on the films, ticketing and the festival's various ancillary events, go to

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