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Still in Focus: The 2007 Deep Focus Film Festival

by David Cornelius

Midwest movie buffs rejoice: the Deep Focus Film Festival is coming back for a third year.

The fest, founded by Melissa Starker of the Columbus-based alt-weekly Columbus Alive!, brings the very best of independent cinema to the heart of Ohio, mixing in some homegrown projects in for good measure. And once again, the state’s coolest multiplex, the awesometastic Arena Grand, will play host to it all. (If it sounds like I’m gushing, it’s because I am: Deep Focus always makes for a terrific time, and the Area Grand really is Ohio’s best ’plex.)

This year’s Deep Focus will open this Thursday with the Midwest premiere of “Waitress,” Adrienne Shelley’s Sundance hit starring Keri Russell, and wrap with “The Hip Hop Project,” Matt Ruskin’s documentary about a nonprofit project inviting teens to share their experiences through rap. Somewhere in between, you’ll enjoy such varied titles as “Air Guitar Nation,” “Broken English,” and “Fido.”

This year, Deep Focus is working its way through some serious growth. By moving the festival up a few weeks, the festival crew found themselves unable to find the time to expand their roster of “New Independents,” their catch-all name for the highlighted festival entries. And so they’re instead adding a new category: Modern Classics.

Starker explains the addition: “From a local perspective, it's sort of a bridge between what we do with the fest and the CAPA summer movie series, a local program that's one of the oldest classic movie series in the country. Beyond that, I figure there are a lot of people who love these movies but have never seen them on a big screen, the way they deserve to be seen.”

Among these is “Remember the Titans,” which won an online poll asking readers to program the fest by picking their favorite sports flick. (Oddly, “Titans” beat out such titles as “Rocky” and “Bull Durham,” but hey, that’s Columbus for you. They’re a football crowd.)

Here’s the complete lineup:

New Independents

Opening Night Gala. From the late actress-turned-filmmaker comes tale of a poor small-town waitress (Russell) who finds a second chance at happiness when she least expects it. Midwest premiere.

After the Wedding
The Brothers creative team of Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen return to the Deep Focus Fest with this Oscar-nominated Danish drama, in which an orphanage worker in India is forced to return home and face his difficult past. Columbus premiere.

Air Guitar Nation
Alexandra Lipsitz’s hilarious yet respectful doc follows the first Americans to compete in the World Air Guitar Championship in Finland. Ohio premiere. Preceded by the short “Blissful,” by Columbus creative team LeftChannel.

Broken English
Zoe Cassavetes makes her filmmaking debut with this quirky comedy in which Parker Posey is a thirty-something New Yorker about to give up on romance, right about the same time a possible Mr. Right appears. Midwest premiere. Preceded by the short “The Fixer,” by Columbus filmmaker John Whitney.

Dare Not Walk Alone
Jeremy Dean uses amazing, never-before-seen archival footage of racial clashes in St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest city, to spotlight the role the town played in the passage of the Civil Rights Act and take a hard look at the legacy left behind. Midwest premiere.

Family Law
From Argentine filmmaker Daniel Burman comes a lighthearted look at a successful man who finds that with the responsibilities of new parenthood comes a need to develop more respect for his own father. Columbus premiere.

Carrie-Ann Moss and Billy Connolly stand out in this retro zombie comedy about keeping up with the Joneses when most of the planet has been seized by the undead.

Maxed Out
The subject of a recent Nightline segment, James Scurlock’s doc examines our country’s ever-increasing debt, the predatory practices of credit companies and the personal fallout for Americans. Ohio premiere.

Satoshi Kon’s mind-blowing anime feature centers on a research team’s hunt for a stolen device built to enter another person’s dreams, and the discovery of the more dangerous potential the device has in the wrong hands. Columbus premiere. Preceded by a sampler of work in progress by time-based media students at Columbus College of Art and Design.

The Hip Hop Project
Closing Night Selection. Executive produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, this inspiring documentary captures a New York City program that channels teens’ true life experiences into powerful hip hop. Columbus premiere.

Special Presentation

“World’s Best Commercials”
This crowd-pleasing program presents award-winning commercials from the Cannes International Ad Festival.

Modern Classics

Close Encounters of the Third Kind” 30th anniversary screening
Glengarry Glen Ross” 15th anniversary screening
Moonstruck” 20th anniversary screening
Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion” 10th anniversary screening

Sports Movie Spotlight

Remember the Titans” (online poll winner)

The 2007 Deep Focus Film Festival runs from Thursday, April 19 through Sunday, April 22. For a complete list of showtimes, special guests, and special post-movie events, or to watch trailers for the featured movies, check out the Deep Focus website. For ticket info, visit the Arena Grand website. See you there!

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originally posted: 04/16/07 17:20:56
last updated: 04/16/07 17:27:39
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