A former pro basketball star struggles to get his life in balance. An 88-year-old woman is driven to take a road trip from Wamego, Kansas, to Terre Haute, where she grew up, to see a childhood friend. And slave labor in the world’s cocoa industry leaves a bad taste — but pushes concerned activists to create a slave-free chocolate bar.

The eighth annual YES Film Festival brings all these stories and more to the big screen with a 21-movie lineup Oct. 27 to 29 at YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St. in downtown Columbus.

The cinematic smorgasbord gives area movie lovers a chance to gorge on narrative films, documentaries and shorts. They also have a chance every year to meet a few of the film directors and hear behind-the-scenes inspiration for the works.

“This year, we hit the jackpot on (submitted) narratives,” said Diane Mason, the Columbus native and Florida documentary filmmaker who works as a volunteer selecting entries for the juried festival.

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Those six works range from the classic Western blockbuster, “Shane,” to “The Sounding,” about a woman who becomes a rebel while committed to a psychiatric hospital. Plus, the aforementioned flick, “The Tree,” about an elderly woman’s road trip, steers viewers into a riveting tale.

“I sat down to take a quick look at that one (when it was submitted),” Mason said. “And I never got up. It’s really a very lovely story.”

The shorts, including one lasting three minutes, remain the most popular ticket at the festival, Mason said. A total of 10 are on this year’s schedule, still being finalized.

“I hope part of that is because we’re making good choices (on what to show),” Mason said.

She understands that in an age of big-screen movie watching at home, the festival aims at something more community oriented.

“Ideally, these films are meant to be seen on a theater’s big screen,” Mason said. “So this really is about a shared experience.”

Diane Doup loves the idea that the festival helps support the work of the nonprofit Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, where Doup serves as community outreach coordinator. The center operates the theater and helps struggling downtown residents with everything from job training to parenting.

“It’s so critical for us anytime to get people in the door at YES Cinema to learn about what we do,” Doup said. “And the YES Film Festival is another vehicle for that.

“So not only can we highlight these amazingly talented filmmakers and their beautiful films, but we also get to share the message of the Lincoln-Central Family Neighborhood Center,” she said.

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What: Eighth Annual YES Film Festival, featuring 21 varied films (narratives, documentaries and shorts).

When: Showing begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 27, and noon Oct. 28-29. Full schedule is at yesfilmfestival.com.

Where: YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.

Admission: All-access tickets are $35; individual tickets, including a combined showing of all the shorts, are $7, at yescinema.org.

Information: yesfilmfestival.com.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.