Sarah Foster

Director Jon Gustafsson answers questions from the audience after the U.S. premiere of his film during a special gala of the Oxford International Film Festival.

Oxford will get a taste of the cinematic arts this weekend with Oxford’s first international film festival.

The festival kicked off Thursday evening with a private gala at the Marcum Conference Center. The gala opened with a catered dinner followed by the U.S. premiere of Wrath of Gods, an international film by director Jon Gustafsson. A question and answer session followed with Gustafsson.

Wrath is a documentary of the problems experienced with multiple storms and a volcanic eruption over the course of production while filming the movie Beowulf and Grendel.

Miami junior Joe Baur, a member of the Miami Association of Filmmakers and Independent Actors (MAFIA), enjoyed the documentary and could relate on a smaller level when he had problems shooting a film for MAFIA due to weather.

“The documentary really put me in my place because I was complaining about not finding my sunny day and (the crew) had problems as well,” he said.

Kelsey Fenn, Miami sophomore and member of MAFIA, enjoyed the screening and question and answer session.

“It was interesting to hear the insider information about the production of the film,” she said.

The documentary stars Gerald Butler, who appeared in the film 300. The film is set to screen again for the public at 6:30 p.m. April 6.

Nathan Houser, Miami alumnus, feels that the festival is off to a good start.

“It’s going pretty well so far,” Houser said. “We need to get more people involved, especially the students. There are a lot of interesting films coming through this weekend, lots of shorts.”

The film festival is set to kick off for the public at 10 a.m. Friday at the Marcum Conference Center.

JC Schroder; director and founder of Star Com Productions, an independent film company; encouraged the audience members to invite others to the event.

“I would like to encourage not only everyone to come to this event, but to be here to hear the stories (of filmmakers and special guests),” Schroder said. “The is ultimately the goal of a film festival, and is what it should be all about.”

The Ohio premiere of the award-winning Mojave Phone Booth, directed by John Putch will also screen this weekend.

With an assortment of workshops, discussion panels, meet and greet sessions through the course of three days, the Oxford International Film Festival will bring several national and international films and filmmakers to the area.

The festival will screen more than 70 new films, including both shorts and features, Schroder said.

Senior Charlene Ondak, marketing assistant director for the festival, has been working on the festival for the past four months and is excited that the event has finally arrived.

“We are looking forward to being able to bring films and filmmakers to this region and to be able to give them an outlet to display their work, and also to have the opportunity to let members of the community experience arts in this form through film,” Ondak said.

Also included in the weekend-long festival will be a 24-hour film competition. In this event registered teams will go out and shoot their own short film in a span of 24 hours. They must include a key element in their piece, which will be announced to teams at the start of the competition.

Awards will be given in two main categories, Judges Choice awards and Audience Choice Awards. All prizes and winners will be announced at a public awards ceremony held the final day of the festival, Schroder said.

Special guests from the film industry include actresses Missi Pyle and Christine Elise; actors Robert Romanus and David Deluise; directors Gustaffson and Putch, and Emmy award-winning cinematographer and Ohio native Jeff Barklage.

More than 500 film entries were submitted from filmmakers in more than 40 countries, Schroder said. From these entries, 77 independent films have been selected to screen over the weekend. Over a dozen will be either U.S, Ohio, or world premieres.

The idea for the festival began when Stephan Murray, current president of the Miami Film Association, approached Schroder. The festival was created in August of 2006.

Although the event is produced independently from the university by the Miami Film Association and Star Com Productions, Miami is one of the larger sponsors for the film festival. Other sponsors include the Oxford Community Arts Center, Cox Ohio Publishing/The Oxford Press, and the Marcum Conference Center.

All-event (three-day) passes are available for $50 each and can be purchased online at or at the Shriver Center box office (513) 529-3200. Single one-day passes will be available only at the door the day(s) of the event and will cost $25.

The four-day competitive festival (April 5-8) is sponsored by Miami Film Association and Star Com Productions.