From a film about three brothers caring for their 93-year-old grandmother in “America,” to a historical re-enactment of the Bisbee Deportation during 1917 in “Bisbee ‘17,” to a master class by award-winning filmmaker Yance Ford, the Wexner Center for the Arts will have it all at the second-annual Unorthodocs., a five-day film festival beginning Thursday and ending Monday.
Chris Stults, associate curator in the film and video department at the Wexner Center, said Unorthodocs. is a festival “that has a little bit of everything,” and is devoted to creative nonfiction filmmaking, exploring its possibilities and asking what a documentary or nonfiction film really is.
“That’s one of the questions at the heart of this whole series, and the series kind of exists to answer that — well, to pose that question and then everybody can resolve that for themselves,” Stults said.
To Stults, documentaries are fascinating because for the best documentaries, many filmmakers go into a project without a script or an idea of what the film is going to be, such as what directors and producers Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside did with their film “America.”
“[There’s] something like ‘America’ by two Ohio filmmakers that became so close to and invested in this family in Mexico, and just has this level of intimacy and vulnerability, especially among young men that you don’t often see,” Stults said.
Stoll said he and Whiteside initially went to Mexico to create a film about international tourism development when they met Diego, a young circus artist whom they befriended and lived with for a while.
Stoll said there was one day Diego had to go home to take care of his grandmother, America, because she had an accident. On a whim, Stoll went back with Diego to his hometown of Colima, and was drawn into the story of three brothers taking care of their grandmother.
“Upon kind of witnessing them and being inspired, we kind of abandoned the other project, the tourism project, and set ourselves to following their story,” Stoll said.
Showing their film at Unorthodocs. is not the first time Stoll and Whiteside has worked with the Wexner Center, however.
They had one of their films shown at the Wexner Center Ohio Shorts festival in 2011 and participated in the art center’s residency program where they lived in Columbus and used its facilities to edit films.
“We’ve had a long history at the Wexner, both having our work showed there and working with them, but also obviously just as movie lovers,” Stoll said. “There’s really only, maybe only one other place in Ohio that does the kind of programming that the Wexner does.”
Stoll said film festivals like Unorthodocs. are great because not only are they different, but there are more opportunities for audience feedback and to meet other filmmakers.
“It’s at film festivals where you have a sense of community, that you’re not the only person out there, and you know you get to see other work that’s inspiring,” Stoll said.
Stults said he hopes the film festival will reach people on an individual level and someone coming to the festival will find something meaningful to them.
“That’s kind of the best hope you can have,” Stults said.
Unorthodocs tickets are $38 for students and members and $45 for the general public. “America” will be screened at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday.