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Movie Preview: Indianapolis International Film Festival


It’s summertime, and like most of us, you are probably looking for some new and different things to do during your vacation time. Consider a nearby road trip in search of films that you may not be able to see locally. There are four cities each within a couple of hours driving time with cinematic distractions to interest and entertain you.

The annual Indianapolis International Film Festival is in full swing.  It opened last Thursday and runs thru Sunday, July 28th,  offering the best in innovative films, shorts and features, from both professional and start-up filmmakers. One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the closing night premiere of Don Jon, written and directed by Joseph Gordon Levitt, who also co-stars with Scarlet Johansson and Julianne Moore. In addition, there are plenty of other items to choose from, which are available as single tickets, or if you’re going to stay for a while you may want to consider an all-access pass. Most of the screenings are at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with others at various downtown venues. There’s even a feature screening at the Tibbs Drive-In on Tuesday night. Considering that Indianapolis has a vibrant and welcoming downtown, the addition of the annual attraction of a world-class film festival makes it an even more interesting place to visit.

There are three other nearby cities that offer a summer film series featuring classic films on the big screen in restored movie palaces. The largest, and most ornate, of these is the Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus. They feature a schedule with the requisite Hitchcock or Fred and Ginger films, but also with some unusual offerings. For example, this Friday at 7:30 pm, legendary Columbus TV and radio host Fritz The Night Owl welcomes you to a Fright Night Double Feature. He’ll be introducing a pair of Universal’s classiest noir horrors: Son of Dracula from 1943, starring Lon Chaney Jr. as the thirsty one. The second feature is one of my all-time favorites, The Black Cat from 1934, a grisly, disturbing art deco tale of murder, revenge, devil worship, and more. It was the first teaming of Boris Karloff and BelaLugosi, and is an eye-popping, mind-boggling outing. This is a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen. Coming in August to the Ohio Theatre: a Saturday morning program of classic cartoons, a 1917 Cecil B. DeMille silent film starring Mary Pickford with live organ accompaniment, and Disney’s Mary Poppins, among others. This will be a good time to revisit Mary Poppins considering that Tom Hanks plays Disney in the Christmas release Saving Mister Banks, about the making of that film.

To our immediate north in Downtown Dayton, the Victoria Theatreunspools several items of interest. This coming weekend is Busby Berkeley’s Technicolor musical extravaganza from 1943 The Gang's All Here, a war time musical starring Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, and Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. This is one of the films that set the standard for true Technicolor. The first weekend in August is a three-film tribute to James Bond’s 50th Anniversary, with screenings of From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Live and Let Die. And something new this year offers some 10:30 late night Saturday screenings to bring back midnight movie memories, including George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. And your ticket to the Victoria also gets you free popcorn and soda in the lobby before the film.

Head south for an hour and a half and you’ll come to the Kentucky Theatre in Downtown Lexington. Their annual Summer Classics series is every Wednesday at 1:30 and 7:15. This week is the 1936 version of My Man Godfrey with William Powell and Carole Lombard, followed on August 7th by a rare theatrical screening of the original theatrical release of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. You also will be able to catch Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo with John Wayne and Dean Martin, and such classics as Some Like it Hot, Cabaret, and The Great Escape.

So if you want to combine a short road trip with a penchant for films that are not readily available in our fair city, check out these opportunities ready and waiting for you.