Ann Koblenzer

The annual Oxford International Film Festival (OIFF) is leaving Oxford in 2009.

OIFF will be moving to West Chester, Ohio and will be held June 26 to 29.

The festival will still go by the same name, but will use venues in West Chester for showings and receptions.

According to JC Schroder, a spokesperson for the OIFF, West Chester was chosen because it is located in the same county as Oxford, and West Chester has been fighting to host the event for the past year.

“It’s a huge, prestigious event,” Schroder said. “It’s the only major film event in this region and because of that they felt that reputationally, it was important to keep it in the county.”

Sarah Michael, art director for Oxford Visitor Bureau said the city is disappointed to see the festival leave, especially after the support the community showed the festival last year.

“We are disappointed because the city and the visitor’s bureau backed it and were under the impression it would stay in Oxford,” Michael said. “We were surprised to read in the paper that the site had been moved without any prior knowledge.”

The festival, which began in Oxford in 2007, is the only festival of its kind in the area, featuring independent films over four days of viewings. According to Schroder, the move to West Chester will allow all the films to be shown at one venue, the Savannah Center. In previous years the films were shown at various venues throughout Oxford.

“(By consolidating showing at one venue), it will keep the audience together, filmmakers together and allow everyone to interact a lot more,” Schroder said. “People can attend more events throughout the festival.”

Schroder said the change in date and location will make it accessible to a bigger audience, allowing for growth in the festival.

Another reason for the move is airport accessibility. Schroder said hundreds of filmmakers come in, most from out of town, and having the festival closer to major airports was important. He also said the change makes the festival more accessible to the general public, a majority of those who have attended in the past.

The receptions for the films will be at various locations throughout West Chester, with the organizers still finalizing the location of satellite venues, Schroder said.

This year the festival will also be adding a family event for Sunday afternoon, featuring an independent, family-friendly film that will work to expand its audience, according to Schroder.

Despite the change of date and location, Schroder still thinks Miami students interested in film will attend.

“We felt the students who were attending the festival were excited about film and felt they were going to attend anyways,” Schroder said.

Oxford is disappointed to see the festival leave, according to Alan Kyger, Oxford economic development director.

“We often have many athletic events, speakers and car shows that bring people into town, but this was something definitely in its own niche,” Kyger said.

Kyger said Oxford has the potential for an event of the film festival’s size.

“We understand their move into a bigger market, but feel Oxford has a lot to offer,” Kyger said.

Schroder said OIFF appreciates all the city’s support to help the festival grow.

“We completely and totally love Miami University and the city of Oxford and all the regional people who have supported us amazingly,” Schroder said.