By Nicholas Jackson
It’s the Wednesday of Spring Break and School of Film Professor David Colagiovanni is not off sipping frozen cocktails on some beach bar in Florida. Instead, he is busy in his fourth floor office at Central Classroom, finalizing print layouts for next month’s Athens International Film and Video Festival. Two MA Film Studies students are also forgoing the frozen drinks to assist Professor Colagiovanni in organizing this year’s premiere cinematic event by combing over “print traffic” - an organizational method that catalogues festival materials. It’s a hectic time for the festival. Blue and pink Post-It notes cover their table, almost looking more suited for hosting a gender reveal party than a film festival. Somehow, it all comes together; and this year is the 46th time. Colagiovanni has personally led the charge for six years now, relieving duties from the former director, Ruth Bradly. According to the experimental film professor, his involvement stemmed from being a frequent visitor to the festival, which led to him volunteering. Eventually, he was asked to take over.
Colagiovanni has been working on this year’s festival since July and he won’t finish up until the end of May. July is when submissions begin to roll in and they stagger throughout several deadlines into October. In late April and early May, the festival mails out post-screening packets to the festival participants and sponsors.
Each semester, Colagiovanni teaches a festival practicum that highlights different aspects of organizing the festival. Students arrive from varied backgrounds - film production, communication, journalism. Along with Colagiovanni, these students gather to screen festival submissions and exchange opinions. He stresses that there is no magic formula for getting into the festival - the films just need to be “good.” This year’s festival curates 267 films from over 2,300 submissions. Chosen works originate from 58 countries and expand the spectrum of mode and genre. There will be four visiting filmmaker events, which feature Lynn Sachs, Jodi Willie, Laura Harrison, and Chris Sullivan. These highlighted filmmakers will double as festival jurors.
Students will not only be visitors this year, but many will also be participants. 24 of the festival’s offerings are the works of current students (11), alums (12), and faculty (1). And 1 film is about a faculty member’s family (Masha & Dasha). These films have played at festivals around the world, winning awards and accolades along the way, including being a finalist at last year’s Student Academy Awards (Empty Skies by alums Wenting Deng and Luke Fisher). The full list of participating students, alums, and faculty can be found in the below table.
Throughout the week, there will be chances for festival-goers to mingle with the filmmakers at festival sanctioned after-parties. The first party kicks off Wednesday night at West End Cider House with old-time music band, Rattletrap Stringband. Friday night, the party moves to Casa Nueva for a cash bar and the Afro-Latin jazz music stylings of [M]onte. The festivities then head over to favorite film school haunt, The Union, for Saturday’s after party and another night of live music. Festival tickets are distributed on a first come, first serve basis and are free for students. An All You Can Watch festival pass will be available for $50.