Film Focus: An Independent Film Festival has been a Toledo mainstay for 13 years, just don’t read too much into the library event and 2017’s slate of six films shown every Monday over six weeks, beginning March 27 with the documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power.
As in the past, the only theme to Film Focus is really “its central mission: to bring quality film to a large screen in our area,” said festival creator Tracy Montri, audiovisual department manager for Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
Yes, “themes do emerge in filmmaking choices, as well as audience appetite for particular subjects or styles,” she said, “ ... [but] viewers respond to the window into an authentic experience.”
The films include five documentaries — Anita, Visitor’s Day, Inheritance, My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond, Fair Housing: A Place to Call Home — and a feature-length French drama-thriller, Neither Heaven Nor Earth.
BLADE BRIEFING: Kirk Baird on Film Focus
Film Focus is free to attend, with each screening at 7 p.m. at the McMaster Center at the Main Library, 325 Michigan St. in downtown Toledo. For more information, call 419-259-5200 or visit toledolibrary.org.
The inclusion of the Anita Hill documentary in the series is obvious, with Hill scheduled to speak two nights later, March 29, in a sold-out Authors! Authors! program at McMaster Center. Yet Anita also embodies the same qualities as the festival’s other documentaries — “redemptive, reflective, and healing,” Montri said — with all six film selections made as “a matter of trying to capture and ride the collective pulse of our community by providing cinema that relates, empowers, and entertains.”
Montri, who started the festival in 2004 as Toledo’s first consistent source of avant-garde films and filmmakers, has watched as the supply of film festivals has caught up to meet the growing demand of local movie-goers. There are now a trio of Toledo film festivals showcasing international, national, and even local movies, documentaries, and shorts.
The success of these events is proof that not all film appetites are sated by what rolls out of Hollywood and into local movie theaters each week.
“It reflects our evolving viewing patterns,” she said. “With so many choices of channels and video streaming, Netflix, Hulu, the library’s free streaming from hoopla and Overdrive, people can be and have to be more discerning. Tastes and options are being cultivated.”
As for Film Focus, Montri offered some quick thoughts on each film:
■ March 27: Anita: Speaking Truth to Power: “We get to see that Anita Hill’s graceful bravery continued after her historic stand for her rights. She is humble yet incredibly dynamic.”
■ April 3: Visitor’s Day: “Ipoderac is a home for homeless and abandoned boys in Mexico. It provides a family atmosphere as well as general education and job training for boys up to age 18. It’s beautiful to see the close ties that form amongst the children.”
■ April 10: Inheritance: “We experience a haunting documentary around the everlasting horrors around the Holocaust and its legacy on seemingly disparate individuals.”
■ April 17: My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond: “A YouTube star of the academic set, Dr. Diamond’s accessible brilliance and passion for neurology and anatomy of the brain is thoroughly infectious.”
■ April 24: Fair Housing: A Place to Call Home: “An inspirational look at Toledo's own Fair Housing Center, a progressive and nationally recognized organization. A panel discussion will follow the film.” The documentary, incidentally, was produced by WGTE-TV, Channel 30, as part of its ongoing Toledo Stories series.
■ May 1: Neither Heaven Nor Earth: “An atmospheric supernatural tale, this film take us along for a strange and mysterious ride.”
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.
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