The Over-The-Rhine International Film Festival, which showcased for the first time with its new name in Cincinnati last week, pushes diversity in content and entertainment offerings with a spectacular array of films.
Cincinnati is the perfect backdrop for this type of festival. Nestled between the borders of both Ohio and Kentucky, the land the city of Cincinnati was built upon was once the first free ground former slaves stepped on after fleeing from the confines of the confederate South. The city represents liberation and expansion beyond our current circumstances.
In the spirit of the city, the OTR International Film Festival expanded beyond its first iteration which emphasized the lives of people with disabilities, to now opening up its focus to include and celebrate “our shared humanity,” the mission statement explains.
As a first time attendee of the festivities, I was impressed with the breadth and scope of the films screened here and the pristine quality of the selections.
I screened two films during my weekend stay that I was highly impressed by and want to recommend. The first was a documentary called “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” a tale that followed the astronomical rise and fall of one of Black entertainment’s most prolific stars, Sammie Davis Jr.
I admittedly walked into the theatre with a very limited understanding of Davis’ life and the impact he had on Black culture. Despite the rarity of his skills across dance, acting, singing and impersonating, he was ultimately ostracized by his community for his political support of controversial public figures.
The second film, Two Beats One Soul, is another doc that follows two mega producers as they seek to create an albums that blends the musicality of American R&B with the heartbeat of Cuba.
Both films speak to the importance of representation and the impact our talents, the talents of POC, have on global culture.