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We all know that Downtown Greenville is so picturesque, that it looks almost like a movie set. And it has been cast in a major role as background for several area commercials and indie films as well as being a gracious hostess to numerous stars of the big and little screen, including Renee Zellweger and George Clooney. But now DTGVL is taking a place behind the camera to play host to its first ever International Film Festival.

The 2012 International Film Festival will be held at various Downtown locations starting April 25th with an Opening Ceremony and Soiree at ZEN. The festival will feature about 50 independent films from all over the US and the world. Films range from short documentaries and narrative shorts to animated films and “green” films. The directorial talent ranges from international filmmakers to students to up-and-coming filmmakers – including local filmmaker, James Wiley of Riverside High. Films are shown in “Blocks” of 4 – 6 films in a 2-3 hour period. Coffee Underground, ZEN, The Kroc Center and The Upcountry History Museum are among the venues that will be hosting these events. Tickets for these screenings are $10. Tickets for other festival events range from $25 – $40 per event – or you can purchase a VIP Festival Pass, which gives you access to all events, for $99. For a list of featured films, screening times and ticket information, visit: www.gviff.com.

Centre Stage and ZEN will also offer various workshops hosted by award winning professionals from the film industry.  Topics range from “The Art of the Documentary” (hosted by Emmy winner, Harvey Hubbell V) to “Digital Filmmaking Tools” (with Academy award winner, Dr. Jerry Tessendorf).  The cost for these intensive workshops ranges from $25 – $30. Not to be left out, Warehouse Theatre offers its own homage to the film-making industry with “The Importance of Film and Movies in our American Lives”. As part of their WHT Forum Series, this engaging dialogue is centered around one of the Warehouse Theatre’s mainstage productions: “39 Steps”. The forum takes place on Wednesday, April 25 at 6PM and is free and open to the public.

If you find that you can’t get enough film after the Film Festival…not to worry. The Peace Center offers an array of film features for movie enthusiasts. Their “Downtown Films” series offers locals and visitors alike the chance to see films you can’t see anywhere else – from the hottest independent films, acclaimed foreign features, and beloved cinema classics. Digital surround sound and HD, not to mention the availability of beer and wine, make your viewing experience even better. The next film screening, “Monsieur Lazhar” (a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee) is scheduled for May 24th. Tickets are $9 with general admission seating. Opera and ballet aficionados need not feel left out – the Peace Center has thought of you as well. Their “Opera and Ballet in Cinema” Series features live performances and encore presentations of beloved classics from the worlds of opera and ballet – performed by the greatest artists of our time. Next on the schedule are the opera “Rigoletto” from the Royal Opera House in London on May 13th and “La Fille Mal Gardee”, a live streaming performance from the London Royal Ballet. Tickets for these screenings are $20. For a full schedule of both “Downtown Films” and “Opera and Ballet in Cinema”, visit: www.peace center.org.

If your budget favors something more on the “Free” side, don’t fret. Starting in May, Downtown Greenville will again be playing host to Moonlight Movies every Wednesday. This free, outdoor screening of beloved family and classic movies will take place at Falls Park around 8PM-ish. The series starts with a screening of “The Muppet Movie” on May 2nd. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are welcome, but like most city-sponsored events, pets are not allowed. For more information, visit: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/PublicInfo_Events/MoonlightMovies.aspx

Other venues in Downtown Greenville offer opportunities to see a variety of indie and classic films as well. Coffee Underground often shows screenings of indie films in their private theater. The Upstate History Museum also plays host to movie screenings of films that have historical significance. The schedule varies so check with the venues for more information.

So, as you see, Downtown Greenville gives movie lovers of all types a diversity of opportunities to see films they might otherwise not have a chance to see. So, gather up your fellow film fanatics to view something other than your run-of-the-mill blockbuster movie. You’ll be glad you did!

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