Students from Central High School pose for a group photo at a previous Central Film Festival. That event returns for its eighth year in 2022. Central High School has teamed up with the Downtown Springfield Association for the festival, April 1-2 at the historic Fox Theatre. (Photo: Downtown Springfield Association)

Central High School and the Downtown Springfield Association are teaming up to elevate the Central Film Festival. The 2022 edition of that festival is scheduled for April 1-2 at the historic Fox Theatre on Park Central Square.

The Central Film Festival is one of the five largest high school film festivals in the country, generating 600-700 short film applications each year. This is Central’s eighth year producing the festival. This is the first year they’ve partnered with the DSA, which is lending its event planning and marketing expertise to the festival.

“It plays to the strengths of both groups, creating a celebration of student filmmaking that is unheard of almost anywhere else,” Josh Cantrell, director of Central High School’s media department, said. “We have always had films submitted from the best student filmmakers around the world and now — with our partnership with the DSA — we get to share these amazing films with our community, providing a space where filmmakers are seen and appreciated.”

Multiple screenings will take place the night of April 1 and throughout the day April 2. There will also be Q&A sessions with special guests from the film industry. Friday welcomes local visual effects artist Darrell Claunch, known for his work on films like “Mad Max Fury Road,” “X-Men Days of Future Past” and “Jurassic World.” Marshfield-born actress Cassandra Ballard, known for playing Agent Mulcahey in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Young Marie in “Bloodline,” joins the festival Saturday.

The DSA has prior film festival experience, hosting the Rated SGF Film Festival in 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic forced the cancellation of scheduled festivals in 2020 and 2021. The organization also has a deep history of planning community events, including Artsfest, Cider Days and the Downtown Springfield Christmas Parade.

“DSA is excited to bring our expertise in managing major community events and communications tools to promote one of the top five high school film festivals in the country,” Rusty Worley, DSA executive director, said. “By shining a light on these emerging filmmakers, we hope to draw hundreds of patrons to experience our downtown restaurants and retail.”

Early bird passes for the Central Film Festival are $30 and are on sale until March 24. The schedule of film screenings will be announced in the coming weeks. Visit the festival’s website, centralfilmfestival.org, for more information or to purchase tickets.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger