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25th East Lansing Film Festival returns with an exclusive look at upcoming indie films

October 27, 2022
<p>Studio C in Meridian Township hosted the East Lansing Film Festival from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14, 2021.</p>

Studio C in Meridian Township hosted the East Lansing Film Festival from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14, 2021.

Celebrating 25 years of their tradition, the East Lansing Film Festival, or ELFF, is bringing films the area doesn't usually see. The festival will showcase shorts and documentaries from across the globe.

ELFF will be held at the Studio C! theater at the Meridian Mall from Nov. 3-10, showing a wide array of movies for an entire week.

Festival director Susan Woods said that curating the program is her favorite part of directing. She enjoys picking out films that mainstream theaters wouldn't pay attention to, including foreign films. Along with these screenings come Q&As with the directors of the films, allowing the audiences to dive deeper.

With 8 director talks after the movies out of 14 feature films shown at the festival, there are many opportunities to connect personally to the films and the people behind the scenes.

“People ask questions … How many times have you watched a film and been like 'Why was that?' Here, you have somebody who can answer the question," Woods said.

At the viewing of one of the featured documentaries, "Eli, A Dog in Prison," both the director and the protagonist will be holding a talk after the film, explaining the experience of raising a dog in the prison the film is set in.

“It's an enhanced viewing," Woods said. "Another thing about film festivals that you really have to appreciate … that when you go, you're in a community of fellow film goers who love film, so it isn't like sitting in the dark with strangers. It makes it a much more positive event.”

The festival emphasizes community – many of the filmmakers return to Michigan to share films in a place that feels like home. ELFF has garnered a reputation for being inviting to directors, Woods said.

Bigger movies will be shown on opening and closing night. "BadAxe," premiering on opening night, is a documentary on set in a rural, conservative town in Michigan, following an Asian American family reflecting on trauma from racism in their town. The film has already been picked up by the Independent Film Channel.

"Acting Like Nothing is Wrong" will play on closing night of the festival. The film follows the "Shameless" actor Jim Hoffmaster and his life as an actor.

Woods said that while one of her main goals is marketing to students and a younger crowd, the main demographic at the festival is seniors.

“We have a large, senior crowd," Woods said. "The reason being is that we all grew up … going to movies. That's how we look at it, though. We don’t stream it from our television.”

However, Wood hopes that students and younger people can break the chain of only watching films through streaming by coming to watch the art on hand at the festival. Throughout the week, movies will be shown multiple times, appealing to the busy schedules of students.

“With a film festival, they can see these films that are exclusive," Woods said. They're not able to see the films anywhere else.”

Tickets by date and film are available for purchase.

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