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Friends of the Festival to host third annual Oscar Night in Athens event

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 17, 2006) -- Athens area film lovers will once again don their evening gowns, brush off their tuxes, and bejewel themselves for their walk down the red carpet on Oscar night at the Friends of the Festival's Oscar Night in Athens gala event at the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center. The Friends of the Festival is a local organization that hosts the event in support of the Athens Center for Film and Video, sponsor of the Athens International Film and Video Festival that takes place this spring in Athens and Nelsonville, Ohio, April 28 through May 4.

Photo from the 2005 red carpetThe event, to be held in the main gallery at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 5, will feature a gourmet meal catered by local independent restaurant the Blue Gator, a screening of the Academy Awards ceremony on four huge projection screens, a silent auction of an original piece by jeweler Keith Chapman, the Magic Video/Avalanche! Pizza Oscar Ballot Contest for a year's worth of free movie rentals and a chance to win the Athens Hidden Treasures Grand Prize Raffle trip for two film buffs to the Toronto International Film Festival this fall.

The Friends of the Festival threw the first Oscar Night in Athens party in 2004 as a fun way to raise money for the Athens International Film Festival. The 2005 Oscar Night in Athens hosted 250 film lovers at the event and raised almost $8,000 for the festival. The funds enabled the festival to host famous actor and director Steve Buscemi, who screened his recent film to a sold-out audience at Ohio University's Memorial Auditorium and took questions (and hugs) from the audience. Proceeds from this year's event will go toward inviting another important film industry guest to the festival and advertising in new, regional media outlets to increase festival ticket sales and dinning/shopping traffic in Athens and Nelsonville.

"We are always excited to host this fundraiser because it is unique and very fun," said Kelee Riesbeck, an organizer of the event who helped launch the project after hosting private Oscar Night parties at her home for several years. "The committee has once again put in a tremendous amount of work to make this event an exciting night out for movie lovers, all for a great cause."

The festival, which celebrates its 33rd anniversary this year, brings a mix of independent, foreign and documentary films to southeastern Ohio each spring -- a film lover's feast. The festival has expanded from showing films at three screens to six: three screens at the Athena in Athens; two screens at the new Athena Grand also in Athens; and at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio. The Friends of the Festival hopes that continued support and publicity of the film festival could one day make it "The Sundance of Appalachia."

Tickets for Oscar Night in Athens 2006 are now on sale by calling the Ohio University Memorial Auditorium Ticket Office at (740) 593-1780, or stop in at the East Union Street entrance at Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Alumni Auditorium Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

Sponsors for this year's event are: Executive Producers Athena Grand, The Athens Messenger, the Blue Gator and Power 105.5 (WXTQ-FM/WATH-AM); Producers Hocking College School of Music and Theatre, Keith Chapman Jeweler, Milo's Whole World Gourmet, Rhapsody and Zio World Cuisine; Directors Abrio's Brick Oven Pizza & Gelato, Athens Hidden Treasures (Including Themes, Bali Karma, Pangea Tea and Court Street Collection), Athens Underground, Avalanche! Pizza, Big Chimney Baking Co., The Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center, Ohio University Office of University Events, Kelee and Steve Riesbeck, Septima Design/Chiquita Babb, Time Warner Cable and The Village Bakery and Cafe; Stars Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, Ruth Bradley, Coors Light, Donkey Coffee and Espresso, Haffa's Records, Lamborn's Studio & Custom Framing, Magic Video, O'Betty's Red Hot!! Dogs & Sausages, The Ohio University Inn and Conference Center, Pepsi Cola of Athens, Perk's Coffee House & Roastery, Rocky Outdoor Gear Store, Ruby Tuesday Restaurant, 7 Sauces, Snider, Fuller, Porter & Associates and Tony's.

For more information about the film festival, visit the Web at www.athensfest.org.  

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Media Contact: Kelee Riesbeck, (740) 594-8087 or stelee@columbus.rr.com  

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