Fireworks and a guy in cowboy hat

The Columbus International Film + Video Festival ends with Western, a documentary by Ohio-born filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross


Are you kicking yourself for missing this year’s Telluride Film Festival? Not to mention Sundance, Tribeca and Cannes?

  Have no fear. You can still catch a film festival—in fact, two of them. And you don’t even have to leave town to do it.

  Every November, a pair of festivals vie for local film lovers’ attention. True, you aren’t likely to see Hollywood celebs at either of them, but if you happen to like non-mainstream films—especially those with a Jewish, LGBT and/or Ohio connection—you’re in luck.

  First up is the Columbus Jewish Film Festival, running Nov. 1-15 at various venues. Just how Jewish is it?

  “We don’t really have strict criteria,” said festival director Emily Schuss, explaining that a film might be chosen simply because it has a Jewish director or touches on Jewish themes.

  Schuss noted that one film has little Jewish connection but is interesting because it focuses on the ever-controversial issue of gun control. Titled The Armor of Light, it’s a documentary about a prominent evangelical minister who has decided being pro-gun is inconsistent with being pro-life.

  “That movie, other than his being Jewish in his early life, really doesn’t have much Jewish content in it,” Schuss said.

  Far more Jewish content is featured in Once in a Lifetime, the French drama that opens the festival. It’s based on a real-life teacher who taught her inner-city students about the horrors of the Holocaust.

  It’s followed by a documentary that has both Jewish and local connections. Titled Band of Bowlers, it’s about the I.M. Harris B’nai B’rith Bowling Association, which has been bringing Central Ohioans together for bagels and bowling for nearly 85 years.

  “It’s a perfect fit for our community,” Schuss said.

  Also opening in November is the Columbus International Film + Video Festival, which is heading in a new direction in its 61st year. Festival programmer Jeremy Henthorn explained that the juried event previously concentrated on giving out awards in diverse categories, but it’s now more focused on picking films specifically for screening.

  “What we’re really trying to do is screen the things that people want to see—and maybe the things they don’t even know they want to see yet,” Henthorn said.

  Several of the scheduled films have Ohio connections, including the drama Akron. One of three festival offerings sponsored by Stonewall Columbus, it’s the tale of two college football players who fall in love.

  The festival ends with Western, a prize-winning documentary by Ohio-born filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross.

  One disadvantage of having two festivals in one month is that a few events are scheduled opposite each other. However, both Schuss and Henthorn said they hope the festivals can cooperate more than they compete in future years by sharing information and promotional efforts.

  “We are trying to work together,” Schuss said.


Columbus Jewish Film Festival

Unless otherwise stated, admission is $12, $10 for Jewish Community Center (JCC) members and seniors, or $12 for everyone at the door. A festival pass, $110, can be purchased by calling Sue Vail at 614-559-6212. For more information, visit

Nov. 1: Once in a Lifetime, 7 p.m., JCC, 1125 College Ave. (dessert reception to follow); tickets: $35.

Nov. 2: Band of Bowlers, 7 p.m., JCC (dessert reception to follow); tickets: $5.

Nov. 3: Above and Beyond, 7 p.m., JCC.

Nov. 4: A Borrowed Identity, 7 p.m., Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St.

Nov. 8 (Doc Sunday): Look at Us Now, Mother, 11:30 a.m.; The Armor of Light, 2:30 p.m.; East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, 4:30 p.m., Drexel.

Nov. 8: Lady in Number 6, 7 p.m., JCC; tickets: free (call Sue Vail at 614-559-6212 for reservation).

Nov. 10: Little White Lie, 7 p.m., Wexner Center, 1871 N. High St. (discussion and dessert reception to follow); tickets: $5-$10.

Nov. 12: Apples From the Desert, 6 p.m.; To Life!, 8 p.m., Drexel. Boxed dinner available between screenings if reservation ($10) made by Nov. 5.

Nov. 15: God’s Slave, 5 p.m.; Dough, 8 p.m., JCC. Deli-style dinner available at 6:45 p.m. if reservation ($18) made by Nov. 8.

Columbus International Film + Video Festival

Admission is $5-$7 unless otherwise noted. A festival pass is $30. For more information, visit

Nov. 5: Krisha, 7:30 p.m., Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St.

Nov. 6: The Experimental Film Gallery, 7-10 p.m., Vanderelli Room, 218 McDowell St.  

Nov. 7: Saturday Morning Cartoons From Around the World, 10 a.m., Drexel. Admission: free for all children.

Nov. 7: LGBT Fest Doc Night, 7-9 p.m., CCAD Canzani Center, 60 Cleveland Ave.

Nov. 8: Mojave, 7 p.m., Drexel.

Nov. 9: Adderall Diaries, 7 p.m., Drexel.

Nov. 10: Akron, 7 p.m., Drexel.

Nov. 11: Pro-Ana and Embers, 7 p.m., Drexel.

Nov. 12: Film School Curriculum Night: A Selection of Narrative and Student Shorts, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Canzani Center.

Nov. 13: Janey Makes a Play, 11 a.m., Drexel.

Nov. 13: LGBT Awards Night, 7-9 p.m., Canzani Center (reception to precede screenings).

Nov. 14: Doc Block, 3-5 p.m., Drexel.

Nov. 14: Western, followed by festival wrap party, 7-10 p.m., Canzani Center.

The Columbus Jewish Film Festival closes with Dough, a UK comedy about a kosher bakery that sees newfound popularity after marijuana is accidentally added to its challah dough

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