First annual Dayton Independent Film Festival to take place this fall

Mallory Boring 
Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer

In the past few months the city of Dayton, like the rest of the world, has undergone many changes.

COVID-19 forced University of Dayton students to leave campus and finish the semester online, but the pandemic’s reach extended past our beloved campus to the surrounding city.

Local businesses had to close their doors, highly anticipated events were cancelled, and the people of Dayton distanced themselves from others to the best of their abilities. Once again, our community has shown its resilience. 

The Dayton Independent Film Festival is just one event impacted by the pandemic. This Sept. 25-28 is the inaugural film festival, which will be held annually in the years to come.

The theme for the film fest is “Stories in Flight.” Organizers have decided that the show must go on despite drastic changes in its appearance. 

Originally the festival was going to be hosted in-person at the Neon, Dayton’s independent movie theater. Due to the pandemic the event has been adapted to a primarily online format with a one-night presentation of short films hosted at the Dixie Twin Drive-In. The time and date of the program has not been shared yet. 

The Dayton Independent Film Festival is a great event for UD students looking for something to do this fall while following safety guidelines.

Students can attend the event virtually which makes it a low risk form of entertainment. Further incentive for students to attend the festival is the connection between the film festival and UD.

The festival is presented by the University of Dayton Communication Department and was developed by students this past spring. 

Jesseca Ynez Simmons, assistant professor of communication and practicing filmmaker, worked alongside her students to ensure that the festival would get off its feet despite the obvious challenges.

Through Zoom, the class helped with the promotion of the event, and they even were able to help decide which film submissions made the cut. Although they completed the coursework last semester, many of the students will likely still help out with the event this fall.  

An interesting feature of the film festival is the types of films it will showcase.

The festival accepts submissions of short films of any genre. The films can be narrative, documentary or animation. Filmmakers showcased range from established professionals to the up-and-coming.

Even Ohio high school students can submit a film. Unfortunately, the deadlines to submit a short film has passed for this year’s event. Anyone who has entered a film was notified Aug. 10 of their festival acceptance status. 

There are few eligibility rules for filmmakers interested in submitting their work to the festival. One of these rules that the Dayton Independent Film Festival has for content of submissions is that they be Midwestern. This means that submissions should be films by Midwestern filmmakers, or films based in or about the Midwest. 

Films entered to the Dayton Independent Film Festival will also be considered for awards.

The festival has five awards; Best Fiction Film, Best Documentary Film, Best Student Film, Best Local Film, and Best of Festival. The Best Local Film Award is limited to Dayton related films while all films are eligible for the Best of Festival Award. 

Despite the complications our community has experienced due to COVID-19 in the past four months, the Dayton Independent Film Festival shows that there are still things to look forward to.

The festival is a great entertainment option for UD students and Dayton residents alike.

Though not ideal, the virtual nature of the film festival ensures the event is able to go on and that it is accessible to the most vulnerable.

The adaptability of the first annual Dayton Independent Film Festival is a good indication of the success of the festival this year and the years to come.