UD students organize Dayton Independent Film Festival, highlight local filmmakers and stories of resilience

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The lights have dimmed and the show is starting. This weekend is the Inaugural Dayton Independent Film Festival.

The festival is being directed by University of Dayton assistant professor, Jesseca Ynez Simmons. Last Spring, she worked with a group of students to get the festival off the ground. It is the first time a similar film festival has been held in Dayton for the last five years. However, when COVID threatened the festival, the group adapted to a virtual model.

Nearly 40 films can be viewed on their festival website. There is also extra content like Q&A’s with the filmmakers available on the website. While most of the festival is happening online for safety reasons, Monday night they’re holding part of the festival at the Dixie Twin Drive-In theater in Dayton.

“Its our first year and with everything they’ve thrown at us we’ve kind of chugged on through,” said Melanie Reindl, director of programming and UD graduate student.

At the drive-in theater, the film festival winners will be awarded, and films that spotlight Dayton will be shown. Simmons says out of 39 films, 10 of them have ties to Dayton. The theme of the night is also “resilience” which the event organizers say clearly reflects the spirit of the city.

“The ones that we’re showing at the drive in really offer in their very different unique ways from documentary to dystopian to fiction that feeling that we’re not going to give up were going to keep going,” said Simmons, executive director of the festival.

Enjoying the film festival will do more than be a source of entertainment. Simmons says 20 percent of the proceeds will benefit the YWCA of Dayton, as an organization that is actively working against racism and gender violence.

“I feel so enriched from the words that [the filmmakers] shared. There’s an entire story going on behind the camera that I got to hear about and I feel very fortunate to hear it,” said Margaret Fitzpatrick, digital media specialist for the film festival.

The films will only be available to watch through Monday at midnight. For virtual or physical tickets to the festival and for more information, click here.

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