Don't think of the Akron Film + Pixel Festival, happening this week at the Akron Art Museum, as just a Rubber City thing. Although it takes place in Akron, is put together by Akron movie fans, and includes a few ties to Akron filmmakers, the four-day fest has more in common with independent showcases around the world than one of those community gatherings where folks show off their 45-minute compilations of squirrels gathering walnuts in the backyard.
This year's fest includes six features and one shorts program, almost all of them making their Ohio premieres. And unlike in past years (when it was called the Akron Film Festival), most of them steer away from full-on avant-garde trips. "They didn't play very well," says co-executive director Rob Lucas. "So we're trying to find a happy medium between the avant-garde and pop culture."
The highlight is Hit So Hard (showing at 7:15 p.m. on Friday), a documentary about former Hole drummer Patty Schemel. She, along with the film's director and producer, will be on hand to answer questions after the screening. (They'll also show up at the after-party at Musica, which features a performance by another punk drummer, Marky Ramone.)
Other movies on the schedule include Q&A sessions with filmmakers: Director David Meiklejohn will discuss My Heart Is an Idiot, about Found Magazine founder Davy Rothbart; Akron native Dan Roth and Marc Smolowitz, producers of the organ-donation doc The Power of Two, will talk about their movie; the writers, directors, and stars of the comedy The Color Wheel show up; and producer John Baker talks about the skate-punk profile Dragonslayer.
"We're trying to appeal to a completely different demographic than the Cleveland International Film Festival," says Lucas. "We tend to skew a little bit younger and a little bit more pop culture."
The big addition this year is the inclusion of video games (thus the new "pixel" part of the fest's name). Developers will talk about their work, and visitors can play the games on display. "Visual storytelling is becoming so much more interactive," says Lucas. "These aren't first-person shooters. These are personal games that are a lot like homemade movies."
Lucas, who founded the fest nine years ago, would love to see more local filmmakers on the bill. But he would rather show a good movie made by, say, a New York director than a mediocre one made by an Akron resident.
"This is an opportunity to bring not just movies, but the filmmaking experience to the area," he says. "People are paying to see these movies, so we want to show something they'll enjoy. We tend to be really picky."