An image of a Unariun, a group that filmmaker Jodi Wille explores in her film “We Are Not Alone,” which will be screened during her April 13, 2019 presentation at the 2019 Athens International Film and Video Festival. (Image courtesy of the festival.)

46th AIFVF Brings Athens Community, Filmmakers, Students, Unariuns Together April 8-14

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The 46th annual Athens International Film and Video Festival will take place Monday, April 8 through Sunday, April 14 and feature a wide array of works from artists close to Southeast Ohio and from around the globe. This year the festival is presenting 260+ films at the Athena Cinema (20 South Court Street) as well as several special events featuring visiting filmmakers.

David Colagiovanni, the director of the festival and Ohio University’s Center for Film and Video, allowed WOUB to drop by the festival’s headquarters in the Central Classroom building to interview him and his film festival students on an unseasonably chilly morning less than a week prior to the festival’s 2019 opening date.

“I am a freshman and I didn’t even know that the film festival existed until halfway through last semester,” said Ben Linder, one of Colagiovanni’s students. “I’m excited to see the whole thing come together, and also to see all these people enjoying films. I am very passionate about film, so seeing other people enjoying something that I care about means a lot to me. The community aspect of it is really exciting, and it’s something that I have never experienced before.”

Colagiovanni exposes his students to the inner-workings of the film festival, from assisting in screening the 2,300+ films that are submitted to the internationally recognized festival to working on categorizing the shorts into associated blocks to packaging boxes of programs and passes and everything in between.

“We learn so much about film – so much about how to think about film, which is very interesting,” said Linder. “It’s not just a classroom experience. With a lot of the stuff that we watched we had a lot of conversations that helped me consider films in a different way; that helped me appreciate aspects of film that I hadn’t really considered before.”

Rachel Eldridge-Allegra is another film festival student who, in particular, assisted Colagiovanni in screening a number of documentary films for the festival this past winter.

“It’s fun to watch the submissions and really try to think about films as an audience member, as an entire audience, really,” she said. “Learning to watch films from that point of view has been really cool.”

Harrison Webb is a student in Ohio University’s screenwriting program, and he said that working on the film festival has opened up his eyes to aspects of the film industry that he wasn’t familiar with before.

“It’s been a neat perspective that I have been able to gain through the class,” said Webb. “Really trying to understand what the audience is seeing when watching a film is also interesting, as well as figuring out how to present all the films to an audience.”

In addition to the films that will be showcased throughout the festival, there are also a number of special events slated to take place throughout April 8-14.

“On Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m., we will have our Jo Andres – In Remembrance screening, which should be a really unique one,” Colagiovanni said. Andres (1954-2019) graduated from Ohio University’s MFA Film program in 1984 and built an acclaimed art career for herself throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. “(Andres) was a fantastic filmmaker and dancer, and interdisciplinary artist who was a part of the downtown New York performance scene.”

On Wednesday, April 10, acclaimed filmmaker Lynne Sachs will present an interactive lecture starting at 7 p.m. as another part of AIFVF’s 2019 special events. Sachs’ presentation will be highly collaborative with the audience, utilizing the conversation to spontaneously live-curate a program of her work. Sachs’ work consists of installations, films, performances, and web projects that tie what one experiences personally to larger historical narratives.

Lynne Sachs, one of the visiting filmmakers who will make an appearance at the 2019 Athens International Film and Video Festival. She will present a collaborative lecture on Wednesday, April 10 at The Athena as a part of the festival. (Image provided by the festival.)

“(Sachs) is an alum of the festival, and we have been showing her work here for decades,” said Colagiovanni. “When we showed her first film here, she came for the festival, and so did someone from the Flaherty Film Seminar and a film programmer from the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). She won the experimental award that year, and the following that she had a screening at the Flaherty and at the MOMA. She always says that it was this festival that started her career as a filmmaker. We’ve shown everything that she has made since that time, and this year she is coming back and giving back to the festival by presenting to us, so that is pretty fun.”

Chris Sullivan is another visiting filmmaker, an animator who specializes in crafting with historical techniques. On Thursday, April 11 at 7 p.m., he will provide a lecture as another AIFVF ’19 special event. Sullivan is also serving as a juror for the festival. He will present his film, Consuming Spirits, which is a psychological drama that utilizes tracing paper drawings to represent the memories of characters, cut out multiplane puppets for scenes that are taking place in the present, and scale models for the film’s landscape. The film chronicles the lives of three characters who live in rustbelt American town Magguson and work at its newspaper, The Daily Suggester.

An image from Chris Sullivan’s “Consuming Spirits,” which will be screened on Thursday, April 11 at the Athens International Film and Video Festival. (Image provided by the festival.)

On Friday, April 12, animator Laura Harrison will provide another special event for the festival with screenings of her films The Lingerie Show, Little Red Giant, The Monster That I Was, Tears for Narcissus, No Such Luck, and Bottomland starting at 5:30 p.m.

“Laura Harrison won the animation award last year,” said Colagiovanni. “Her work is often about minor characters and these drug and sex fueled narratives – and then her process is really interesting too. She has this hand drawn stuff, and collage-based stuff, and it’s all messy and loose, all thrown into one animation! She was here for the festival one year, and I asked her about all the different elements in her work, and she said that it was just like that because she ‘didn’t know what she was doing,’ but she definitely knows what she is doing! She creates these crazy soups of animation.”

The final special event for the 2019 AIFVF will be Jodi Wille’s presentation entitled Welcome Space Brothers! The Films of the Unarius Academy of Science with Jodi Wille which will take place starting at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

“Jodi Wille, with her Unarius Academy of Science, it’s completely original,” said Colagiovanni of the filmmaker, who graduated with a BFA from OU in 1991. Wille is a filmmaker, curator and book publisher who has extensively explored American subcultures. She directed the acclaimed “The Source Family,” which chronicled the ‘70s Los Angeles commune of the same name, and her work on The Unarius Academy of Science is not unlike that project.

Throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Unarius Academy of Science were on a mission to spread their “interdimensional science of life” and what they believed to be the processes of reincarnation to as many people as possibly through some truly imaginative public access television programming. Wille will present her film on the group, We Are Not Alone, as well as the Unarius’ feature The Arrival. Live Unariuns will be at the screening for a Q&A.

AIFVF ’19 After Party Events

Rattletrap String Band at the West End Cider House Wednesday, April 10, 9 p.m. (Free for 21+ with cash bar)

[M]onte, Jennifer Simone, and Aaron Michael Butler at Casa Nueva Friday, April 12, 9 p.m. (Free with cash bar)

CLICK Ensemble, Michael Morris, and Jacoti Sommes at The Union Saturday, April 13 9 p.m. (Free for 21+ with cash bar)