Columbus festival returns with 11 films

By Frank Gabrenya The Columbus Dispatch (KRT)

Major film festivals achieve variety through sheer numbers. Small festivals must pick titles carefully. The folks who programmed the second Deep Focus Film Festival – to take place Thursday through next Sunday at the Arena Grand theater in Columbus – think they have blended an intriguing range of themes and styles in 11 features.

“I’m pleased with the lineup,” said Mark Pfeiffer, who helped festival organizer Melissa Starker select the bill.

“There’s a lot of diversity, several kinds of films. People think everything at a festival has to be downbeat, but [the French action movie] District B13 is enjoyable and entertaining. It’s so cranked up and over-the-top that it’s fun.”

Deep Focus was created to draw little-seen independent films to Columbus. Half the films in the 2005 lineup returned later for theatrical runs; one of them, Murderball, was nominated for an Oscar.

One difference between the first two years is that the 2006 slate contains only two documentaries (American Blackout and loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies).

Four were screened last year.

Documentaries have become staples of indie filmmaking because of their affordable budgets.

This year, Pfeiffer said, “We couldn’t get the ones we wanted.”

The latest lineup samples fare from throughout the world, with features from Canada, France, Hungary and Spain as well as a British-French-South African venture (Wah-Wah).

Starker, who was gratified with the reception to the first festival, hopes to get more moviegoers to take a chance on films they might not usually see.

“It doesn’t take much,” she said, “to acquire a taste for independent films.”