OHIO students, alumni and global creators screen world-class selections at 51st Athens International Film + Video Festival

The Athens International Film + Video Festival recently returned and provided Ohio University students and community members with a large selection of diverse and global films.

Alex Semancik | April 24, 2024


For 51 years, the Athens International Film + Video Festival has given filmmakers a venue to share their work. Creators from around the world recently gathered in Athens, Ohio to display and discuss their films at the historic Athena Cinema. This year’s festival featured a world-class array of special events, film screenings and after-parties.

The Athens International Film + Video Festival (AIFVF) took place from April 8-14, 2024, and featured over 215 films representing more than 50 countries in competition. Fourteen feature length films and a variety of short films were screened throughout the week. All screenings and events were free for students due to the generosity of Arts for Ohio.

AIFVF attendees wait in the concession line in the Athena Cinema lobby.
AIFVF attendees wait in the concession line in the Athena Cinema lobby. (Photo by Jeric Herstine)

“It’s nice to come and get a wide range of experiences that you don’t normally get in most American theaters,” said Sarah Comer, a sophomore studio art student at Ohio University. “Cultural experience—you get to interact with stuff you wouldn’t normally interact with. It’s a very personal experience, a lot of the filmmakers come and have Q&A’s, so you get to talk to them about their processes.”

Visiting AIFVF artists included Jackson, Ohio born and raised director, Nicole Riegel, who presented “Dandelion,” festival alumna and jury member Jodi Wille with her feature documentary “Welcome Space Brothers,” New York City-based filmmaker Dylan Mars Greenberg, who presented her genre-bending fantasy feature “Spirit Riser,” filmmaker and activist Sabaah Folayan who directed “Whose Streets?” and internationally recognized experimental filmmaker and director of “Polycephaly In D,” Michael Robinson to name a few.

OHIO Involvement

The AIFVF is directed by Ohio University Associate Professor of Instruction and Director of the Athens Center for Film and Video, David Colagiovanni, with assistance from OHIO Doctoral Student in Interdisciplinary Arts–Film Studies Terra Talamh, OHIO Doctoral Student in Interdisciplinary Arts—Film Studies Josh Vieth, OHIO alumna and Hospitality Coordinator Kelee Riesbeck and many more. Additionally, the AIFVF staff is mainly composed of Ohio University student volunteers.

“It's a week to look far outside and inside of Athens and see what connects us all,” said Colagiovanni. “Putting together the festival is a highlight of my year and takes a tremendous amount of work from students, staff and myself. When people come into to see a movie, and filmmakers come from all over the world to be here representing their film, it really makes all the effort worth it.”

Vieth, who was an assistant programmer, agrees and notes that the AIFVF is a week that means a lot to film students as well.

“It’s particularly an exciting week for the School of Film, one that most students say is a highlight of the school year,” said Vieth. “During festival week the student body comes together and has an incredible opportunity to meet visiting filmmakers who are eager to connect. It’s a beautiful week for the art of film and one I’m always proud to be a part of. Our school and city are all the better for having 51 years of AIFVF.”

Visiting filmmakers speak at the 2024 AIFVF.
Visiting filmmakers answer audience questions at the 2024 AIFVF.

Students of the film festival practicum and media arts management courses also help curate what plays in the festival and coordinate logistics. Along with artists and community activists, students make up a fall prescreening committee that watches all the films and videos entered in the competition. After all entries have been watched, the pre-screeners evaluate all entries to determine films to include in public screenings. The event planning portion takes place each spring. Ohio University Junior Lydia Smith is one of many students who enjoyed both courses.

“I did the screening portion back in 2022, I’m now working on social media,” said Smith. The weeks in spring we were talking about logistics regarding the cinema, organizing the films into blocks, finding ones with common themes and setting the time for them, any other sort of accommodations like picking up filmmakers from the airport and making sure everything was arranged for people to come visit the festival. I’m a media and social change major, but I like the festival so much that I take the class for fun.”

Beyond experiential learning through hands-on film curation and event management, several Ohio University students, as well as alumni had films play throughout the festival. The largest concentration of student and alumni films was in the “O-hi-O” block which featured short films created exclusively by Ohio directors. Ian LaBarge, a graduate of OHIO’s Master of Fine Arts in Film program, said it was an honor to have his film “Belongings” play in the AIVFV.

“Short films can be hard to find an audience for, so having a festival like this where many seats are filled is such a privilege,” said LaBarge. I wouldn’t have been able to make this film without Ohio University, they provided all the tools, connections and a lot of knowledge. Every moment, choice, feeling only came from the ideas and skills I built upon here at OU Film.”

A stack of AIFVF schedules.
AIFVF schedules were provided to all guests.

2024 Awards

Winners of the 2024 AIFVF were chosen by an independent jury, with awards including Academy Qualifying status in select categories. This year’s jury members included: Dylan Mars GreenbergSabaah FolayanMichael Robinson and Jodi Wille. Cash prizes were awarded by jurors, in four categories: documentary, experimental, narrative and animation. 

The following films received awards:

  • 1st Prize Narrative Short (Academy Awards® Qualifying) “250km,” Director: Hasmik Movsisyan, Narrative, Armenia
  • 1st Prize Animation Short (Academy Awards® Qualifying) “Flutz,” Director: Ryan McCown, Animation, USA
  • 1st Prize Music Video “Miles Davis – What’s Love Got to Do With It,” Director: Irina Rubina, Music Video, Germany, USA
  • Programmers Prize (Given by the Assistant Programming Team: Terra Talamh and Josh Vieth) “After The Ringing of The Bell,” Director: Shahrzad Ebrahimi, Experimental, Iran
  • Film House (for Visionary Filmmaking) “Photosynthesis,” Director: Brian Zahm, Experimental, USA
  • From the Booth (Given by the Projection Team: Rachel Allegra, Dan Bruell, Dan Moray) “A Body Called Life,” Director: Spencer MacDonald, Documentary, Poland
  • Directors Prize (Given by Festival Director: David Colagiovanni)
    Visible Mending,” Director: Samantha Moore, Animation, UK
  • Ohio Student Film Award “In English, & Then Spanish,” Director: Madeline McSteen, Documentary, USA
  • Special Jury Mention “White Grass,” Director: Justin Kim WooSŏk, Documentary, Mongolia
  • 1st Prize Documentary Short “Fata Morgana,” Director: Daood Alabdulaa, Documentary, Qatar
  • 1st Prize Experimental “Living Reality,” Director: Philip Thompson, Narrative, USA
  • Black Bear Award (for Best Use of Sound and in Honor of John Butler)
    Amplified,” Director: Dina Naser, Narrative, Jordan
  • Special Jury Mention “The Role,” Director: Paolo Chianta, Animation, UK
  • Special Jury Mention “Shedding,” Director: Nicolau, Narrative, Brazil
  • Special Jury Mention “Antipolis,” Director: Kaspar Jancis, Animation, Estonia


Founded in 1973, the Athens International Film + Video Festival has been presenting the best in international film for 51 years. Known globally as a festival that supports cinema from independent, underground and marginalized populations, the AIFVF represents the values that we share as a community. For over five decades, the festival has embraced experimental, narrative, animation, and documentary, short-form and feature length films from every corner of the globe.

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.