Ojai Film Festival Isn’t OFF, Just Online

By Steven Libowitz   |   July 30, 2020

It’s not nearly as well known as its far more famous cousin of SBIFF, but the Ojai Film Festival has quietly been making a name for itself over the years. And with frustrated moviegoers once again stuck at home sheltering, the OFF endeared itself with a new online film series called Festival Highlights. The streaming screenings launched May 22, and two to three films were released each week over a six-week run. All 16 films are still available for streaming on the festival’s website. To pacify cinephiles as social distancing recommendations remain in effect, the festival has extended the viewing period through Friday, July 31.

Among the highlights is The Vow from Hiroshima, Susan Strickler’s 2019 documentary about Setsuko Thurlow, who devoted her entire life to demanding a nuclear-free world after she survived Hiroshima at age 13, culminating with Thurlow’s acceptance speech at the 2017 Nobel Peace Awards. VICE, a 2018 short directed by Kieron Barry, seems particularly timely at this moment as it’s a dark comedy about a state governor being considered for the Vice-Presidency who discovers no secret is safe when it comes to vetting potential running mates.

Among the films featured by Ojai Film Festival’s Festival Highlights is the short VICE, starring Jay O. Sanders

Linda Corley and Joel Kaplan’s After Parkland: Healing a Community and a Nation is a nearly hour-long doc about the community channelling its grief following the school shooting through activism, art, and public service in a journey towards restoration and recovery. Eternal Winter, by Hungarian director Attila Szász, takes place in a forced labor camp during World War II, when a young woman meets a charismatic prisoner who helps her survive and then has to choose between returning to her family in a small village or making a new life with him.  

The Thomas Fire also gets another cinematic treatment at OFF via The Perfect Firestorm, the 2018 doc that features personal stories of survival and healing following the historic wildfire. Visit ojaifilmfestival.com/category/festivalhighlights for descriptions, trailers and links to the full films.


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