City Education Athens International Film and Video Festival celebrates 45th year By Max Ramsey Posted on April 12, 2018 6 min read 0 0 356 The Athena Cinema in Uptown Athens. Photo by Nate Doughty. Artist, composer, filmmaker, vocalist and instrumentalist Laurie Anderson is a featured guest of the event and is making several appearances at the cinema. The Athens International Film and Video Festival celebrated its 45th return Monday, April 9 and will run through Sunday, April 15 at The Athena Cinema in Uptown Athens. “Every year is different,” festival director David Colagiovanni said. “We try to program the festival for everybody. Whatever you’re interested in — if you look through the program, you can find something.” “There are films on the environment, social justice, music, animation. Every topic and style of film is there.” Each year, films and videos submitted to the festival are viewed by a committee of artists, students and community activists and evaluated to determine what will be screened for the public to view. The Athena’s three theatres will show 235 films from 31 countries during the event. Over 2,300 entries were submitted for the 2018 festival. Artist, composer, filmmaker, vocalist and instrumentalist Laurie Anderson is a featured guest of the event and is making several appearances at the cinema. “Obviously, I’m super excited about Laurie Anderson coming for two nights,” Colagiovanni said. “I’m a huge admirer of her work and have been for a long time. It’s great to have her come to Athens.” Additionally, the AIFVF is presenting Anderson’s virtual reality project, Chalk Room, which has been described as “a virtual reality of stories.” In 2017, Chalk Room received the award for Best VR Experience at the 74th Venice International Film Festival. Ohio U has collaborated with Anderson in order to bring the project to campus. It is located at the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) lab. “The theatre department projected her imagery and painted out what you first see in the experience,” Lab Manager Anthony Zoccola said. “It’s the old way of art with the new way of art. Now, we can take what you see and bring it to life.” “We’ve been planning and getting the setup ready for the last two and a half months. It has been the process of building a set, setting it up, getting the tech ready, testing the software and running it throughout the week.” Students involved with the process built computers and constructed the set, and they are ensuring it operates accordingly for users. The Chalk Room experience is about 15 minutes long and tends to draw different emotions from participants. Zoccola noted that the project tends to change people’s view on virtual reality and causes the platform to be taken more seriously. “People come in and experience things that elicit emotions,” he said. “Nobody has come out of it saying that was weird or that was dumb. It’s been all good so far.” The Athens community has shown support for the festival with over 30 local businesses as sponsors, including Ohio University and adjoining institutions. A predetermined jury will vote for the best pieces in multiple categories on Sunday, which is the final day of screenings. Winners of the best Feature Documentary, Short Documentary, Experimental, Feature Narrative, Short Narrative and Animation categories will receive cash prizes of $1,000. There are also two additional awards given – The Black Bear Award for best use of sound and The Film House Award for visionary filmmaking. The AIFVF is an Academy qualifying festival in both the Short Narrative and Animated Short categories. Out of 7,000 film festivals worldwide, only 63 have Oscar-qualifying accreditation.