A new film festival is premiering in Dayton this weekend from Sept. 25-28. The inaugural Dayton Independent Film Festival features 39 short films from Dayton and the rest of the Midwest.
The film festival is led by Jessica Simmons, a professor at the University of Dayton, and students from one of her classes. “The students make a lot of the decisions,” she said. “They do a lot of the planning, they wrote the mission, they came up with the website design and they're doing a large spectrum of work.”
The festival will primarily be virtual and audiences can start viewing films at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25. The festival concludes with screenings of 10 short films at Dixie Twin Drive-In at 8 p.m. on Sept. 28.
The 10 short films are by local filmmakers and the festival’s award winners. “We wanted to give the opportunity for the folks that maybe aren't screening their films at Sundance [Film Festival], but are also very, very good and very talented to have a home with us,” said Simmons.
The documentary titled “Dayton’s Darkest Summer” won the best local film award and Jonathan Reser, a local filmmaker, won the best unconventional film award for his animated mockumentary titled “Division.”
Judges for the film festival include Lisa Grisby, the executive director for FilmDayton, Leah Byrd, a local filmmaker, Jeremy Bolden, a film professor at Wright State University, and other community members.
For Simmons, the Dayton Independent Film Festival coming together is part of a larger purpose. “I really believe in the mission, which is along the lines of trying to bolster Midwestern filmmaking,” she said. “But also this more wider sense of you don't have to go to Los Angeles or New York to be a filmmaker, there's so much happening here.”