In 1950, a group of local educators founded the Columbus International Film + Video Festival as a juried showcase for the power of film to teach and entertain. In the years since, it's become the longest-running film festival in the country and gained clout with filmmakers from around the world. But among Columbus moviegoers, its profile has remained relatively modest.

In 1950, a group of local educators founded the Columbus International Film + Video Festival as a juried showcase for the power of film to teach and entertain. In the years since, it's become the longest-running film festival in the country and gained clout with filmmakers from around the world. But among Columbus moviegoers, its profile has remained relatively modest.

Jeremy Henthorn is aiming for something bigger. Since becoming director of the CIF+VF in January, the Delaware native and former head of the Ohio Film Office has made moves to showcase more work by Ohio filmmakers, to strengthen an ongoing partnership with the Columbus College of Art and Design, and to support the expansion of an LGBT screening program run by Stonewall Columbus under the festival's banner.

The 66th annual festival kicks off tonight with the intense drama "Krisha," winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for narrative at the SXSW Film Festival in March. Other selections include "Western," a Sundance-winning documentary by Ohio natives the Ross brothers scheduled for closing night, and the film adaptation of Stephen Elliot's memoir, "The Adderall Diaries," starring James Franco. This year also brings a program of experimental shorts presented gallery-style, in a new partnership with The Vanderelli Room.

Amid preparations for opening night, Henthorn sat down for a beer to discuss the work he does, the differences in this year's festival and a big change on the horizon - moving the event from November to April for 2016.

Describe your job as festival director.

Well, for a while I watched a lot of movies, like 700 in six months. I watched most of the submissions because I wanted to make sure we were showing stuff that I like and that I thought people would like. I was a little obsessive with that. Now the job covers everything - it's marketing, writing press releases, updating the website. I'm really trying to think of what my job isn't at this point. I think I had to clean up the theater afterwards once.

What sorts of changes are happening with the festival as a whole?

I think when this festival originally started, because it was started by professors and academics, the idea was to discover these films that weren't getting shown anywhere and to reward achievements in the humanities. We're trying to keep some of that because that's the history of the festival, but I think that festivals should first be events where people want to go and see gobs and gobs of movies. The first thing people should do is open the program, see what movies are playing and want to see those movies, so we've really tried to focus on that. We're leaning more heavily on narrative than we have in the past, but we'll also be showing a lot of documentaries. I want it to be more of a balance of the narrative, docs, some quirkier shows and things like that.

Despite its longevity, the festival isn't necessarily on the radar of a lot of local moviegoers. How do you hope to define it for a new audience?

I've put a lot of thought into that. What I'd like to do - and this is a scramble for a lot of fests - is bring movies to the public that other festivals are missing, and give the spotlight to the films you know are good. I think we're doing that with "Embers" this year. We'd given it its own spot, and then Indiewire came out saying it was one of the best sci-fi movies of the year. I hope that if we put our stamp on it, then you go and didn't know about the movie beforehand, that you're going to like it and you're going to come back because you're going to trust that what we put on the screen is good.

What prompted the festival's move next year from November to April?

One, I like the idea of warmer weather. Last November, it was 18 degrees on one of our festival days. It's just better for tourism and getting more people to come. And football season has a lot to do with it. In November, we're also at the end of a festival cycle and we'd like to be more in the mix. When filmmakers are submitting those Sundance and SXSW applications, we'd like to be right in there. I just feel like the April window is going to be better for us, for finding the kind of movies I'd like to show.

If someone spots you during the festival, what will you most likely be doing?

I guess it depends on the time. They'll generally find me talking before the screenings, but also watching movies because I like to see how the crowd reacts. A filmmaker does that, but so does a festival programmer. We want to see what people like, too.

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The Columbus International Film + Video Festival

Nov. 5-14 at the Drexel Theatre, CCAD's Canzani Center Auditorium and The Vanderelli Room

columbusfilmfestival.org