While the Cleveland International Film Festival marks its 38th year, Toledo's Film Focus at the Main Library in downtown is busy celebrating its own anniversary: 10 years of providing avant-garde, mostly foreign movies to the community.
It's a milestone equally noteworthy and remarkable for the cultural importance placed on a 10-year anniversary, and that the festival has survived a decade in a city without a dedicated art house theater for much of these years.
But it’s not the success that surprises the festival’s creator and film programmer.
"What surprises me is how quickly the 10 years went by," said Tracy Montri, Audiovisual Department manager for Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. "We’re grateful for the continued support of the community. We hope that even more people hear about the series and join us."
Ms. Montri said she started the festival as a means to showcase independent and non-mainstream films that would otherwise never play Toledo.
“At Main Library, we have the great auditorium space in McMaster, and we thought that we could fill that gap in the community. It was also the idea of watching films as a community, on the big screen – what is traditionally considered the film-going experience. That particular way of watching films is still how they are meant to be appreciated, and Film Focus provides this. So, any film in the Film Focus lineup is not only a high quality film that we recommend you see, but one that has never before been made available on the big screen in this area.”
This year's Film Focus features six features: The American comedy Detroit Unleaded on Monday, the Chinese-Icelandic comedy This is Sanlitun on March 31, the Japanese comedy crime-thriller Key of Life on April 7, the French/Cambodian documentary The Missing Picture on April 14 and the French drama Three Worlds on April 21, and the Turkish drama Watchtower on April 28.
All movies in the series screen at 6:15 p.m. Mondays at the McMaster Center at the Main Library, 325 Michigan St. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 419-259-5285 or visit toledolibrary.org.
Among the festival's highlights: Detroit Unleaded, This is Sanlitun, and The Missing Picture.
"Detroit Unleaded was shot in Detroit, and really captures the Arab-American experience in the area. It has a great deal of heart and manages to tell a solid love story on a smaller budget,” Ms. Montri said. “This is Sanlutin is an outlandish comedy in the style of This is Spinal Tap.
“We’re also very lucky to have The Missing Picture in the lineup. It is just visually stunning, and an important memoir of a tragic period in Cambodian history."
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.