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OTR International Film Festival held this weekend

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Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival begins this week in Cincinnati.

Starting in 2018, the OTR International Film Festival has focused on diversity.

The film festival is presented by LADD, a “non-profit organization (which) now supports over 650 adults with disabilities”.

“LADD is guided by the belief that every person has abilities and worth,” reads its mission statement. “We empower adults with intellectual disabilities to live, work and connect.”

The OTR International Film Festival bills itself as the premier diversity film festival in the United States led by the disability community.

“Over-The-Rhine is a historic neighborhood where people from diverse backgrounds come together to shop, view art and find community in downtown Cincinnati,” the festival’s website said. “Our international film festival brings together stories from diverse perspectives that celebrate difference and honor our common humanity.

“Using film as a tool to build empathy, we hope to create experiences for filmmakers and audiences that extend beyond the screen into the outside world and into real human connections. We are the first film festival focused on the country’s diversity, led by people from the disability community.”

The center of the festival will be the Art Academy of Cincinnati from July 7-10.

The artistic director of the festival tt stern-enzi has been part of the festival since the beginning. But, before the OTR International Film Festival, LADD was part of another film festival that stern-enzi covered as a film critic.

“I moved here in September 2000 from Philadelphia,” Stern-Enzi said. “I had actually done some non-profit work in Philadelphia helping people with disabilities.”

He began his journey as a film critic with local Cincinnati publications.

“Once I arrived (in Cincinnati), I was always a huge movie buff, and I keep a spreadsheet that I’ve had since the – probably the early to mid-90s – divided by year,” said he declared. “Each spreadsheet has a different year, and it’s got all the movies I’ve seen, ratings, reviews and all that kind of stuff.

“I had never written professionally before, but I had this list, and when I got here, I sent it out to every media outlet I could find. And CityBeat is bidding on it.

While still with CityBeat, stern-enzi began contributing to Friday mornings on FOX19. It then turned into a gig five days a week with the post-COVID media. He also works as a freelance writer.

In 2018, stern-enzi became the programmer for the Over-the-Rhine International Film Fest.

“It was really more the idea of ​​finding a way to bring the disability community into the larger discussion that was happening in the film industry around diversity, equity and inclusion,” said said stern-enzi about the festival.

Festival-goers can expect musical performances, films, parties and discussions.

Stern-enzi and the programming team have to go through a process to choose the right films to screen at the festival.

“At the end of the day, no one thinks of themselves as one thing in terms of identity,” stern-enzi said. “We are all multi-faceted people. We have many different ways depending on context and situation, in terms of how we see ourselves or how we imagine others see us.

“So there you have it. I want to make sure that, if I can have a movie that taps into as many of those elements as possible, that we bring everyone together. And, they can see a hint of a reflection of themselves from various ways and an individual story.

To find out more about the Festival international du film d’Outre-Rhin, visit otrfilmfest.org.