May 25, 2016

Festival of the Future

What’s important is not how many films were shown, or whether they’ll ever be award winners, but that they were shown in Toledo, and some of them filmed in Toledo.

There is more to a city’s life than how many cars it builds or how many games its athletic teams win. There is also art, poetry, nightlife, and, yes, film.

There is something upbeat and hopeful about a city that can nurture filmmakers, poets, and painters. What they contribute to Toledo is nothing short of culture — that intangible feeling that we’re living in a community that values something more than the bottom line.

And for the hundreds of people who showed up at the Glass City Film Festival, there was something else to marvel at — that it was held at the Ohio Theatre. Yes, that old movie house on Lagrange Street in North Toledo is still there, and it is thriving.

Toledo has a long tear-down history, with many examples of beautiful old office buildings and movie houses destroyed by the wrecking ball when people with little vision saw a quick buck to be had — possibly in running yet another parking lot

Thanks to the vision and caring of a cadre of engaged North Toledo citizens interested in the city’s Polish history and in preserving the neighborhood they live in and love, the historic Ohio Theatre was saved. With the help of the United North community development corporation it has been transformed into the Ohio Theatre and Event Center, which has once again become a hub of the neighborhood.

As with any project, pulling off the Glass City Film Festival was a team effort, but the driving force behind its birth was film festival coordinator Kim Sanchez, a Toledo millennial who operates the film company Reel Ohio and is a local Americorps volunteer.

Never one to rest on her laurels, she says next year’s Glass City Film Festival is already being planned.

And it will be even better. You can count on it.

This is how cities revitalize themselves — volunteers and entrepreneurs simply jump in and create things. Master plans are all well and good. But youthful imagination and innovation will make our city new.


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