Promoting diversity: YES Cinema set to host first Amplify Columbus Film Festival

The big screen can make a big impact through promoting diversity, inclusion and creating a welcoming community for people of all ethnicities, faiths and identities. Mary Harmon, coordinator of the Amplify Columbus Film Festival slated Friday through Sunday at YES Cinema in downtown Columbus, firmly believes that.

"We seek to amplify the marginalized voices in our community in order to promote a more diverse picture of our hometown," Harmon said. "Through film, we get to celebrate that Columbus, Indiana, is a town for everyone."

That’s the overarching idea behind the free, inaugural festival that could become an annual event.

A total of eight films are scheduled for a maximum, socially-distanced audience of 60 masked viewers at YES. Plus two virtual films are also slated Tuesday and Thursday via a Zoom. An online link will be provided when people register at for those showings, Harmon said. Organizers would like viewers to register for the showing at YES, too.

The African American Fund of Bartholomew County and The Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County are the main sponsors. Harmon is among the leaders of the African American Fund.

"We are extremely excited about the diversity of the lineup," Harmon said.

That lineup includes a local documentary titled "Crossroads Stories" from Columbus native Alyse Tucker Bounds and Columbus resident and filmmaker Ryan Furr. The two highlight the Black experience in the small-town Midwest via interviews with a variety of Black residents.

Another film, "Minari," follows a Korean-American family’s move to an Arkansas farm in search of the American dream. Another, "One Night in Miami," deals with the civil rights movement.

And the lineup even includes one film for youngsters, the animated "The Croods: A New Age." The movie focuses on new neighbors facing tension between them. They eventually must learn to embrace their differences, draw strength from one another, and survive together.

Both major sponsors have spent considerable time the past few years promoting everything from local surveys, meetings and events to highlight the strength of a diverse and welcoming community — elements that major, global employers such as Cummins Inc. have highlighted as extremely important to an international workforce.

"The community regularly donates to the African American Fund," Harmon said. "So we want to make sure that we are delivering services, educational events, and scholarships to the community."

Bounds has worked alongside Harmon to put together the festival that is the culmination of an educational film series African American Fund leaders launched in August.

"While ‘Crossroads’ is kind of my baby, the overall film festival itself seeks to uplift all marginalized voices," Bounds said. "A lot of these films are ones that can shed light on a variety of very different experiences."

Harmon said she understands that majority population groups seem to think that elements such as racial issues have become more pronounced in the past few years. But she mentioned that that’s only because such groups don’t see topics such as racism from a personal, up-close perspective.

""The only difference between years ago and now is that the issues or race, gender and all forms of diversity seem to be more visible and more easily recognizable to everyone," Harmon said. "But for me, they are no different than before."

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What: The Amplify Columbus Film Festival, highlighting diversity, marginalized voices, issues of inclusion and more.

When: Friday through Sunday in-person and Tuesday and Thursday virtually.

Where: In-person at YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St. in downtown Columbus and online via Zoom after registering at

The schedule:


3 p.m. — Black Art: In the Absence of Light

5 p.m. – Minari.


Noon – The Croods: A New Age

3 p.m. – All In: The Fight for Democracy.

5 p.m. – Crossroads Stories and and also Misbehavior.


2 p.m. – Crossroads Stories and also One Night in Miami

5 p.m. — White Tiger 



6 p.m. – Two of Us

MAY 20

6 p.m. – All In: The Fight For Democracy

Information: or the Facebook page for Amplify Columbus Film Festival.