Cinema Columbus Film Festival to Debut April 27

Festival director Molly Kreuzman says moviegoers will be treated to an array of independent films that were made with heart and soul.

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly
The film "Linoleum," directed by Colin West and starring Jim Gaffigan and Amy Hargreaves, will be screened at the Southern Theatre April 27 at 7 p.m. as part of Cinema Columbus.

Molly Kreuzman, the coordinator of the Cinema Columbus film festival, says she knows she’s watching a well-made film when she doesn’t get distracted by questions of craft. “It’s as much about what's there as what sort of falls away and you don't have to think, ‘Oh, that was a rough edit,’ or ‘Gee, that sound makes no sense.’”

“It’s a kind of seamlessness,” she says.

That’s what Kreuzman saw when she first screened the film that will open the festival, “Linoleum,” which will be shown at the Southern Theatre on April 27. “I was immediately drawn in,” Kreuzman says. “It is an absolutely extraordinary ride.”

The story of the host of a failing TV science show for kids who decides to build a rocket in his garage, “Linoleum” is set in a fictional Ohio town and was created by three Upper Arlington High School graduates, writer and director Colin West and producers Chadd Harbold and Chad Simpson. The screening will be followed by a live Q&A featuring West, Simpson, actor Amy Hargreaves and, in a nod to the film’s science content, COSI CEO Frederic Bertley.

Cinema Columbus, presented by CAPA in partnership with the venues and Film Columbus, was originally slated to debut in 2020 and canceled twice before finally hitting screens next week. It will be different from a traditional film festival: Rather than taking submissions from filmmakers, this year’s festival will offer a selection of films that have already made an appearance at other cinema events.

Running from April 27 to May 1, Cinema Columbus will include 14 feature films: eight documentaries (“Kaepernick & America,” “Freakscene: the Story of Dinosaur Jr.” and “Framing Agnes,” to name a few), six narrative dramas, including horror, sci-fi, fantasy and animated films, and a block of short films directed by women. Screenings will be held at the Southern Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Gateway Film Center, Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse and Wexner Center for the Arts. Several of the screenings will include appearances by members of the creative team.

"Black Beauty," directed by Elle Moxley, is one of the short films to be screened as part of Cinema Columbus, April 27-May 1.

A film summit, presented by Film Columbus and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, will be held April 28 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Gateway Film Center. Topics for discussion will  include the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and ways to increase opportunities and resources for local filmmaking. Admission is free with online registration

The curated format for Cinema Columbus was adopted because of the limited window of time between her hiring January 18 and the festival’s opening date, Kreuzman says. “It was wonderful to be able to curate these films. It also was a little gut-wrenching, because I know there are so many wonderful filmmakers here in Columbus and the Central Ohio area.” Next year, the festival will accept submissions.

A filmmaker herself, Kreuzman is acutely aware of the role festivals can play in helping independent films become known. She recently returned to her native Columbus after living for 20 years in Oregon, where she taught traditional survival skills to teens and organized film festivals. In 2014, she directed an independent documentary film of her own, following the story of a young woman who struggled in school but found confidence in nature as she spent a year living semi-primitively on a mountain with four other young women. “Earth Seasoned … #GapYear,” released in 2016, had a good run at indy film festivals, Kreuzman says, but it was not without a struggle. The film is still available online and was recently picked up for distribution in Australia.

“I know the heart and soul and the money that goes into making an independent film,” Kreuzman says. “And so I'm really interested in honoring filmmakers and honoring them in a way that creates a holistic experience—not only for them, but also for the people that come to see the film.”

"Night's End," with Geno Walker, will be shown at Wexner Center for the Arts on April 29 as part of Cinema Columbus.

Most of the productions to be shown are recent releases that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. “Just the cost alone of testing and all that kind of stuff was astronomical for people,” Kreuzman says. To reduce risk, filmmakers avoided using extras and crowd scenes. Viewers watching closely will notice fewer wide shots, Kreuzman says, because the directors wanted the frame not to appear empty. “Filmmakers had to really change the way they viewed scenes.”

Ultimately, the goal of the festival is to provide a platform and develop the audience for independently made motion pictures. “One of my personal feelings about independent film is that it gives you the opportunity to view and partake in things that may be foreign to you, or culturally different,” Kreuzman says.  “You get the time and the space to kind of take that in and think about it.”

For tickets, a schedule and more information about the festival, visit the Cinema Columbus website.