YESfest brings variety of films to a growing local audience

In an often-microwaved, in-the-moment society, film shorts can be the Twitteresque version of the theater world, wrapping a slice of a story and message in as few as five to 10 minutes. Then roll credits.

The 2016 YESfest, planned for Oct. 28 to 30, will offer 14 such bite-size nuggets of narratives and documentaries at YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.

Columbus native Diane Mason said fans of such abbreviated works — and there were plenty last year at the independent film festival — will find plenty to love.

“I’m often amazed at how much life, impact and feeling that a filmmaker can pack into that brief amount of time,” Mason said.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

She donates her time as artistic director to sift through as many as 100 film possibilities and spearhead the growing event that attracted more than 800 people last year.

The Florida resident is a former newspaper journalist who now is an independent documentary filmmaker. She knows the power of the big screen in the hands of small movie-makers.

“We definitely want to entertain people,” Mason said. “But we also want to touch them. And many of these independent films are stories that you otherwise wouldn’t know about (without independent outlets).

“You can see films at the festival that you’re generally not going to see other (commercial) places,” Mason said.

YESfest began in 2010 with only a few films as another way to highlight quality, independent movies that must find an audience foothold without huge advertising budgets or extensive press exposure.

Randy Allman, a film buff who helps operate the nonprofit YES Cinema, originally conceived of the event as a mini-Heartland Film Festival, as he described it that first year.

He referred to the Indianapolis festival with an expanding national stature and respect.

Local representation

This year, as every year, the event includes the work of Columbus residents.Columbus native Dustin Lowman’s three-minute short, “Chained,” focuses on a former marine battling with post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result from his deployment in Iraq. His struggle takes him to his breaking point, and only then does he realize help has been there all along.

Such local efforts often have earned strong support.

Last year, filmmaker and Columbus native Daniel Anderson packed the 177-seat main theater for his release, “The Shattered Vial.” The story focuses on five characters’ intertwined fates in a world where a lifesaving antiviral is illegally distributed by the mob.

This year, Columbus native Bryan Patrick McCulley will show his 20-minute short, “Fate,” about a wealthy man who, in search of true love, visits a psychic in hopes of learning more about his future.

But some options stretch far beyond the local area. One short, for instance, features nationally known actor Ed Asner.

Diane Doup, who works with Allman to operate the local cinema, said the festival’s growing audience has allowed organizers to attract additional help to promote the event. The Columbus Area Visitors Center provided a $9,000 grant this year to attract out-of-town visitors.

That includes film directors this time around, with 11 planning to attend post-film question-and-and-answer sessions with audience members. Since the fest stretches for three days, that translates to a few overnight guests.

“People who visit for the festival get a chance to see our city’s beautiful architecture and eat at our restaurants,” Doup said.

Doup and Mason both said they believe the event has potential to grow amid a downtown showing more signs of life.

“I think people enjoy the overall festival experience,” Mason said, adding that includes meeting the filmmakers. “And I think they like YES’s relaxing environment.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”YESfest overview” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: YESfest, the annual YES Film Festival, highlighting 21 total independent films, including narratives, documentaries and shorts.

When: Oct. 28 to 30.

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

Admission: $35 for all-access ticket or $7 per show (shorts are presented in a group). Available at YES Cinema.

Information and complete movie schedule: