Sunday, Jul 24, 2016
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Black Swamp International Film Festival makes debut Friday

Finally, it's here. The Black Swamp Arts International Film Festival, a years-in-the-making celebration of cinema, is packed with screenings of 35 feature-length national and international works, local and animated films, and shorts.

The inaugural festival kicks off tomorrow night at 8 and runs through Sunday afternoon at the Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St. Tickets range from $6 to $30. For information, call 419-535-7482.

More than a highbrow gathering of glitterati and artists, the Black Swamp Arts International Film Festival is the first of its kind for Toledo. For anyone who has complained about the lack of indie art-house films to play here, this is an opportunity to show that Toledoans have an interest in works by directors with last names other than Bay, Spielberg, and Lucas.

“The plan is for [the festival] to become an annual area event and another gem in Northwest Ohio's crown of jewels,” said Richard Iott, festival co-chairman along with Cap Averil II, both of whom share credit for the event's creation. “We don't know in what direction the festival will develop; audience feedback will drive that. But our starting point is a festival that has something for everyone, whether it is family fare or avant-garde.”

The bulk of the main screenings will be in the Valentine. There will be a secondary screen on the fifth floor featuring locally produced content and other festival films. The best of those works will run on the main screen as well.

At the conclusion of the festival there will be an awards ceremony with nine categories — feature narrative, short narrative, foreign narrative, documentary, and animated category among them — Sunday afternoon at 4:30 at Rockwell's, 27 Broadway. Each winner will receive a locally produced glass art work as the prize.

For those who can't make it to the festival — excuses, excuses — you can check out what you missed on Buckeye CableSystem's Video on Demand service, Channel 1, beginning Monday and running through Jan. 10.

Buckeye CableSystem, owned by Block Communications, Inc., which also owns The Blade, is showcasing nearly all of the festival's films, in addition to 20 or so works not screened at the event, all for free.

Additionally, the High School Film Festival, an extension of the Black Swamp Arts International Film Festival, is set for 1 p.m. Saturday in the McMaster Center at Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, 325 Michigan St. Those films also will be available on Buckeye's VOD service, but are not in competition.

For a complete list of films and show times, visit the Black Swamp Arts International Film Festival Web site: blackswampfilmfestival.com.

Contact Kirk Baird atkbaird@theblade.comor 419-724-6734.

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