Akron Independent Film Festival to showcase Ohio-made films

Ben Plassard

Crazy raccoons and zombies are invading Akron this weekend, and the only way to escape them may be to run to the movie theater.

The Akron Independent Film Festival makes its return Friday and Saturday, spotlighting Ohio-made films, many of which could appeal to Kent State students.

The festival is back after a three-year hiatus and showcases feature length films, shorts and documentaries from Ohio filmmakers.

Sponsored by The 2380 Project, a University of Akron student and alumni film organization, the festival’s goal is to not only show quality Northeast Ohio films, but to show people who have misconceptions about film-making in Ohio that it is indeed alive and well, according to 2380 Project president Mike Honeck.

“People don’t think good movies can be made here,” Honeck said. “We want to show it is possible to make movies in Ohio and we hope to see a community interest.”

The festival kicks off Friday night with the debut of American Stories, a short story anthology written and directed by Rob Lucas, a member of Project 2380 and a 2003 graduate of the University of Akron. The film tells the story of rock band The Little Devils, who, while stranded in the middle of Ohio, pass the time by telling stories about their past. Lucas began shooting the film in January 2005 and completed it last month, with the help of his friends in 2380.

The 2380 Project is made up of Akron graduates and current students who write and produce films with an Ohio flavor. Honeck said the premise is simple. Their goal is to each year produce a full length feature film from a script written by a member of the organization. The group becomes the cast and crew of the movie, with casting calls held to fill other roles in the film.

Other features at the festival are several horror films that Lucas said will definitely appeal to college students.

Coons!: Night of the Bandits of the Night, produced in Columbus, chronicles a group of college students as they are the targets of a crazy family of raccoons. Bigfoot, produced in Mentor, follows two men who track the mythical beast. But nothing says Akron like the film closing the festival.

The Dead Next Door, the Akron-produced zombie cult classic, will show Saturday night and director J.R. Bookwalter will be present for the screening.

The Dead Next Door is the quintessential Akron movie,” Honeck said. “Everyone knows someone that was a zombie in the film, whether it was an older brother or a friend. “

The fact that the festival is sponsored by University of Akron students should not ward off the Kent State crowd, a point Lucas seemed adamant about.

The film festival runs Friday night and all day Saturday at the University of Akron Student Union Movie Theater. Tickets are $3 a day or $5 for the entire weekend. For more information visit www.akronfilmfestival.com.

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Ben Plassard at [email protected].