Updated Fri, Sep 5, 2014 4:32 pm
After a successful run at the Athena Cinema in 2013, the College Town Film Festival returns to Athens this October, featuring documentaries, short films, guest speakers and a comedy classic.
Co-founded by Athens natives Eric Zudak and Matt Jordan, the College Town Film Festival is dedicated to promoting independent films and generating discussion between academic and local communities.
While last year's event achieved many of its goals, Zudak saw the potential for an even better experience this time around.
"Athens is remarkable in that it is a cultural two-way street...the university and the community influence one another," he said. "We had a documentary subject--a writer--visit Athens Middle School and talk to a writing class. Athens taught us how much the community can become a part of the discussion."
The festival got its start in 2013 at Penn State University, where Jordan is an associate professor of Media Studies. It was held again at Penn State this past April, where it exceeded expectations, according to Zudak.
"One of the most interesting and exciting events was the "Everyone is a Filmmaker" discussion around the idea that video is now the dominant form of communication in our culture. And as such, a grasp of the process is really required for accomplishing just about anything," he said. "This is where the interdisciplinary aspect of the festival comes in."
Although this year's lineup at the Athena is still being finalized, Zudak was able to share some of the highlights, including the guest artists.
"James Denton, best known for Desperate Housewives, is an old friend from my Chicago Theatre days. He'll be joining us with Strangers, a really interesting short film he is in with Marta Milans, a Spanish actress. Marta is wrapping up a show at Second Stage in New York, but we hope to have both of them with us in Athens," he said.
Monty Python editor Julian Doyle, who made an appearance at last year's festival, is returning with a beloved Python classic.
"We're opening with The Life of Brian, which on top of being a favorite of mine, is also one of the most successful independent films in history," said Zudak.
Other guests include Sean Peoples of the Wilson Center in Washington D.C., who will be presenting short documentaries on a variety of topics.
For Zudak, the upcoming fest isn't just a chance to make new connections, but also an opportunity to reconnect with hometown friends and supporters.
"We're really looking forward to this year's program and are so grateful for the support we have received from OU, particularly Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps School. Dr. Geoff Dabelko is a fellow townie and he has been a huge supporter as well," he said.
The Athena Cinema will host the College Town Film Festival Oct. 15-18. For more information, visit www.collegetownfilmfestival.com.
Photos courtesy of College Town Film Festival