University of Dayton Students Persevere to Host Drive-In Film Festival

Dayton, Ohio – The show must go on—it’s the famous motto of showbiz.

And it’s also the mindset one group of University of Dayton students and staff took on to find a way to host the Dayton Independent Film Festival despite restrictions caused by COVID-19.

Professor Jesseca Simmons said the students were the driving force for the event.

“Initially, when we were talking about all of our options during the summer, whether that be cancelling, postponing or being purely virtual,” Simmons said. “We, myself and my students, were very much of the mindset that no, we aren’t canceling. We’re gonna persist no matter what.”

Melanie Reindl is a graduate student at UD and Director of Programming for the event. She said it was a motivating factor to make sure the filmmakers were recognized for their hard work.

“We’re doing it at the drive-in because it’s the safest way for us to all be together but also keep our distance, of course,” Reindl said. “These films are so important for all of us because they tell our stories. So, it’s really important we all get to see them together and we’re all really excited we all get to watch them side by side.”

Located at the Dixie Drive-In, the festival followed social distancing guidelines and was even broadcast virtually for people to watch from home.

Simmons said she is very proud of the students’ efforts to make the event happen.

“Running a film festival takes a lot and it takes a team.”

Filmmaker Grace Hahn, who produced the Best of Fest film ‘How Is This The World’ says she is grateful for their efforts to carry on with the show, as a lot of hard work went into their film.

“These kinds of festivals and screening opportunities are the lifeblood of independent film makers like us,” Hahn said. “So, I think it’s both an honor to be included to be recognized in this way. So for Jessie and her team from UD to put together something so vital in a time, where frankly a lot of artists are struggling to find ways show their work. So it’s incredibly important and we’re very grateful.”

The festival was not only a chance to see some talented filmmakers, but it helps prepare students for the real world. “Oh my god,” Simmons said.  “This has been the best experiential learning opportunity, I think for the students because real life situations got thrown our way that we had to adapt. The students have been doing just an amazing job to make sure that the show goes on and we don’t cancel at all.”

For Reindl and her fellow students, it’s a picture-perfect ending.

“It’s really exciting for all of us to get back together one more time to celebrate everything that we’ve worked towards.”

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