Kent State, CIFF and ‘Reading Rainbow’ Creators

The Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) and Kent State share multiple points of connection that benefit students.

Thursday was “KSU at CIFF night” and a group of Kent State faculty and students attended a screening of “Rise and Rebuild: A Tale of Three Cities” at Cleveland’s historic Allen Theatre on Playhouse Square.

Among those attending were Kent State President Todd Diacon and Dana White, associate professor in the Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism and founder of the Female Filmmakers’ Initiative (FFI) at Kent State. Several students from Kent State’s College of Communication and Information (CCI) were also part of the group.

Group shot with Pres. DIacon, Dana White, Aileen Joven CIFF Dessert Reception

Kent State faculty and students in attendance, from left: lecturer Christopher Knoblock, university President Todd Diacon, student filmmaker Ailene Joven and associate professor Dana White.

Following that screening, the Kent State group walked over to the nearby Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), which is part of Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, for a dessert reception which included a screening of the short film “Define X” by recent Kent State graduate Ailene Joven.

White said, "Thanks to President Diacon and the President’s Office the event was a huge success.  Our current students got the opportunity to experience the excitement of attending the Cleveland International Film Festival while being inspired by one of our own, alumni Ailene Joven ’21, and her CIFF-selected film, 'Define X'."

"Ailene was so moved by all the support. Ailene was the Creative Director of the Female Filmmakers Initiative (FFI) while she was here at Kent. It was thrilling to see current FFI Managing Director Olivia VanSickle and many of the FFI members come out in support of Ailene," White said. "Ailene has been so instrumental in why FFI has grown so much. Many of the newer FFI members had never met Ailene before. Watching them all together in support of each other was a dream for me. It really was a win-win for everyone. A great night! "

Todd Diacon and Aileen Joven

Joven was grateful for the opportunity to present her short film and conduct a Q & A session afterward. She said,  "I felt so blessed to be honored in such a special way and be able to chat with students who were once in my position. It was amazing to see the drive in these students and see them take a genuine interest in how I also navigated my way through the DMP program. I also was able to meet the current members of the Female Filmmakers Initiative, a film organization that was a huge part of my journey at Kent State. This organization allowed me to develop important leadership roles within myself and gave me the motivation to go forward as a cinematographer. Getting to meet all the new faces behind FFI warmed my heart as I knew they were continuing to do great work and spreading good messages."

'Getting into CIFF is a monumental moment for me and a time I am making sure to cherish deeply.'

"Knowing that Kent State continues to support my work as an alumnus reminds me of how much my voice mattered during my years there and how much I owe it to my professors who never hesitate to root for my success, Joven said.  "I look forward to seeing more students get into this amazing festival and after seeing how much last night meant to these students, hopefully, many more evenings like this to come."

"Define X" will be shown again as part of the film festival's "Local Shorts 1" screening on March 28 at 7:25 p.m. at the Allen Theatre. 

Kent State and CIFF

The Cleveland International Film Festival is proud to introduce audiences to new films and the people who create them. “We are delighted to welcome over 300 filmmakers to Playhouse Square for CIFF47 to engage audiences. ‘Rise and Rebuild’ and ‘Define X’ are among the films that will be accompanied by film guests,” said Patrick Shepherd, associate director, CIFF.

Kent State is a longtime partner of CIFF and is a sponsor of this year’s CIFF Groundbreaker Award. This award recognizes filmmakers whose work has proven to lift up marginalized voices. Kent State’s sponsorship helps to connect the university’s film and communication students with filmmakers for in-person engagement.

‘Reading Rainbow’ creators at CIFF and Kent State

This year’s CIFF launched on Wednesday with a screening of “Butterfly in the Sky,” a documentary about the PBS television show “Reading Rainbow” which details the story of how the program came to be and how it inspired young readers for 25 years.

Several of the program’s creators and producers attended the screening and the post-show reception at Playhouse Square.

The 35th annual Virginia Hamilton Conference

On April 23, ‘Reading Rainbow” creators and producers Cecily Truett and Larry Lancit, along with other distinguished guests, will be part of the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature at Kent State University.

Now in its 35th year, the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth is the longest-running event in the United States to focus exclusively on multicultural literature for children and young adults. With a strong following of librarians, educators, authors, illustrators, scholars, faculty, staff, students and fans, conference attendees gather to honor award-winning author Virginia Hamilton.

The conference mission is "to promote cultural awareness and affirmation of lived experiences, such as finding one’s place in the world."

Conference schedule and registration can be found here.

POSTED: Thursday, March 23, 2023 11:04 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 03:47 PM
Phil B. Soencksen