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Athens International Film and Video Festival begins April 3

The Athens International Film + Video Festival officially begins its 44th edition on April 3. The week-long festival features hundreds of productions in a variety of exciting narrative and non-narrative screening blocs, creating a vibrant community of filmmakers, critics and scholars, as well as film enthusiasts. The festival program features diverse productions in different genres from more than 45 countries, as well as special events that are followed by interviews with or talks by artists and presenters.

While each year an overwhelming number of impressive productions are submitted to the competition at AIFVF, the number of films that can be featured is limited. The festival staff works closely to create programs that include both short and feature films, providing a unique screening opportunity for them in this Oscar-qualifying festival. This year’s Competition section includes 235 short and feature films from over 40 countries.

This year’s out-of-competition International Features showcases nine films that have collectively screened at some of the top festivals in the world (Cannes, Sundance, SXSW, TIFF, Berlinale, and Locarno) and two that have received Academy Award Nominations for Best Foreign Film.

On Saturday, April 8, AIFVF presents its annual Saturday Morning Cartoons. This kid-friendly event features 10 animated works in competition from seven countries. Admission to this screening is free.

More than 40 exhibiting filmmakers will visit Athens during the week of the festival. A series of events are planned to allow visitors to meet and mingle with them; a listing is below.

Founded in 1974, the Athens International Film + Video Festival has been presenting the best in international film for 44 years. Known globally as a festival that supports cinema from underground and marginalized populations, the AIFVF represents the values that we share as a community. It is a champion of justice and provides a voice for underrepresented artists and viewpoints on a global level. For over four decades, the AIFVF has embraced experimental, narrative, short-form, feature length, and documentary films from every corner of the globe, offering filmmakers a stellar platform for public exposure and an environment that values artistry above marquee names and industry relationships. The Athens International Film + Video Festival is administered by The Athens Center for Film and Video, a project of the College of Fine Arts at Ohio University.

This year’s festival takes place April 3–9, 2017, at the historic Athena Cinema.

 A full schedule is available at http://athensfilmfest.org/.

 Event schedule:

  • Sabaah Folayan - In Person: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4

Presenting: Whose Streets?

Directors: Sabaah Folayan/Damon Davis, Documentary, 90 min, USA. The activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice bring you Whose Streets? – a documentary about the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and then left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis County.

  • 1984: 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 4

 Director: Michael Radford. Narrative, 117 min, UK.

On April 4, 2017, almost 90 art house movie theaters across the country in 79 cities and in 34 states, plus one location in Canada, will participate collectively in a National Event Day screening of the 80’s movie 1984 starring John Hurt. This date was chosen because it’s the day George Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith begins rebelling against his oppressive government by keeping a forbidden diary. This event is presented in association with the Athena Cinema.

  • Margaret Rorison - In Person: 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 5

Margaret Rorison is a filmmaker and curator from Baltimore, Maryland. Her work often comes from solitary walks through rural and urban landscapes, using in-camera editing techniques and field recordings to create form and find structure. She is interested in the visceral nature of memory and its dialogue within space and experience. In 2012, Rorison co-founded the experimental film and workshop series, Sight Unseen and has been an active curator of the series since then.

  • Dani Leventhal and Sheilah Wilson - In Person: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6

Dani Leventhal was born and raised in Columbus and is currently an assistant professor of art at Ohio State. In 2003 she received an MFA in studio arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and in 2009 an MFA in film/video from Bard College.

Sheilah Wilson was born and raised in Caribou River, Nova Scotia and is currently an associate professor of photography at Denison University. She has BFA from NSCAD University and MFA from Goldsmiths College. Most recently she has been working on projects analyzing the traces between history, story and the land.

  • Lisa Donato & Fawzia Mirza - In Person: 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 7

Presenting: Signature Move

Director: Jennifer Reeder; writers: Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mirza. Narrative, 80 min, USA

A secret new romance with Alma forces Zaynab to confront her complicated relationship with her recently widowed mother. In this coming-of-age Muslim melodrama, Zaynab copes by taking up Lucha-style wrestling.

  • Harlan County U.S.A (1976): Introduction and post screening discussion with Jack Wright and Jerry Johnson, 5:15 p.m. Saturday, April 8

Director: Barbara Kopple. Documentary, 103 min, USA

Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award–winning Harlan County U.S.A. unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes-violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs. Featuring a haunting soundtrack — with legendary country and bluegrass artists Hazel Dickens, Merle Travis, Sarah Gunning, and Florence Reece — the film is a heartbreaking record of the 13-month struggle between a community fighting to survive and a corporation dedicated to the bottom line.

Jerry Johnson is a coal miner who was on strike with his fellow miners in Kentucky when Barbara Kopple began filming Harlan County U.S.A. Johnson played a very active role in helping organize the strike and also plays a prominent role in the film. Now a landscaper, he manages black lung disease and lives in Casey County, Kentucky.

Jack Wright is the grandson and nephew of coal miners. In 2007 he released Music of Coal, a book and CD anthology celebrating the Appalachian coal fields and culture. Wright taught at OU’s Film School for 22 years, retiring in 2011. He continues performing music, filmmaking, and living in Athens with his wife, Sharon, and their dog, Princess Fiona Barker.

  • Rajko Grlić - In Person: 5 p.m. Sunday, April 9

Presenting: Every Good Story is a Love Story.

Directors: Rajko Grlić and Matjaž Ivanišin. Documentary, 71 min, Slovenia, Croatia

“Every Good Story is a Love Story” is a film about the theatrical play “Boris, Milena, Radko” and the four publicly well-known people who produced it — the writer-director Dušan Jovanović, actress Milena Zupančić and two actors Radko Polić and Boris Cavazza. It is a story about a love triangle and in many respects, without any hiding, about the public artistic and private lives of these performers. Following a four-month-long process from the first rehearsal to opening night as well as the intimate lives of artists at the same time, the film tells a universal story of the relationship between the real and the imagined, a story of the relationship between the intimate and the public aspects of art.

Rajko Grlić was born in 1947 in Zagreb, Croatia. As director and scriptwriter he has worked on 12 feature films, which have been shown in cinemas across all five continents. He is Ohio Eminent Scholar in Film at Ohio University.