Film Fest

                             Highland Square Film Festival

                                            Saturday, September 29, 2018  /  2:00 - 6:00PM

                                                               Highland Theater, 826 W. Market St., Akron, OH 44303

                                                                                                                       Free Admission

                                                                             For Tickets/Reservations


Winner of the Knights Arts Challenge Grant, Highland Square Neighborhood Association is proud to host the Highland Square Film Festival.  We are so excited to host this event at Highland Square's very own, Highland Theatre!

Like New York is to Scorsese or Rome is to Fellini, Akron is to our filmmakers. Setting is a crucial part of storytelling and Akron will be featured in each of these visual tales. Local film makers/enthusiasts have been invited to head up a panel discussion from 2-3pm lead by a special guest speaker! Films of five minutes or less will be considered for this curated/juried festival. 




  • 2:00-3:00pm Panel Discussion

  • 3:15pm Keynote, Rhea Butcher 
    Los Angeles-based standup comic, actor, writer and Akronite

  • 3:30-5:30pm Film Screenings

  • 5:30pm Award Ceremony  
    Over $1,000 in cash prizes for the 1st and 2nd place winners will be awarded! We will also announce the Audience Choice Award for the crowds favorite film!

Knight Logo 3000 






Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Miriam graduated from Oberlin College and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa.

Miriam’s film works comprise narrative, documentary, experimental film and music videos. Her works have been screened in the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival, commissioned for installation in the University of Iowa Art Museum, the Art Museum of the Americas, the City of Dortmund, (Germany), and The National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), and have premiered in the Wall Street Journal Arts and Culture Blog, Esquire Magazine Online among others. Her educational and commercial films include projects for Tri-C JazzFest, Cleveland Museum of Art, Vivia & Gala Performance Series, Job Corps, Girl’s Health Summit, and Her Ideas in Motion (Center for Arts Inspired Learning). Her work for Scenarios USA films, aired regularly on Showtime Networks from 2011-2017. She is currently Professor of Media Arts and Filmmaking at Tri-C and faculty mentor to the Digital Cinema Group (DCG). Board member of the Nightlight Cinema in Akron and the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival.


David Giffels is the author of the new memoir, Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life, published by Scribner in January 2018. His previous books include The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt (Scribner 2014), a New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice,” and the memoir All the Way Home (William Morrow/HarperCollins 2008), winner of the Ohioana Book Award.

 His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the, Parade, the Wall Street Journal,,, Redbook, and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head.

 He is an associate professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.



A writer and public speaker interested in racial justice, the arts, and entertainment, Cir is house manager of The Nightlight Cinema and co-host of On the Tropes, a podcast at




Brittany Noble Charek is a mother and high school English teacher with her hands in projects all over town, including Crafty Mart, PechaKucha, the Midwest Craft Con, and the forthcoming Bechdel Film Fest, a Knight Arts Challenge Winner.













Miki Blak is a Northeast Ohio based Writer/Producer/Director and founder of NBlak Productions. She is a storyteller at heart and knows the value of creating an exciting and engaging visual story. She says, “It’s about an emotional connection with the people you see on the screen. Whether you hate them, or you love them, you are vested in what happens to them.” 

Miki’s work includes radio, where she earned an Outstanding DJ Announcer award as an on-air personality; and Television camera operator, writer and floor director at several Top 15 Network Affiliate Television stations in Cleveland, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia. She is an Award-Winning filmmaker writer, producer and directer of short films, music videos and short subject videos. Miki created an internship program with her production company designed to jump start the careers of those interested in working in the film industry by giving them an opportunity to work on an actual production. 

Miki holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Media Communications and a minor in Theatre from The University of Akron.


Rob Lucas founded the Akron Film Festival in 2002 as a graduate student at The University of Akron and later helped transform the organization into the Nightlight Cinema. His documentary, Stella Walsh, has screened at 35 film festivals around world and has been translated into nine languages.

He has a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from the University of Akron and previously worked as the managing editor for the book publisher Gray & Company. He is currently the managing editor of Pathogens and Immunity, a medical journal at Case Western Reserve University.


Scott Hallgren is a composer, musician, producer, college professor, and sound editor.

He has an extensive list of film, TV, music video, and gaming work, including the Emmy-nominated civil rights documentary "We Shall Not Be Moved: the Nashville Sit-Ins" which also won both a 2011 Silver Telly & Golden CINE Award; the 2007 multiple award-winning "Gracie: diary of a coma patient”, "Sith'd", Best Comedy at the 2006 Comic-con, and the 2017 Bronze Telly winning PBS documentary “Perfect 36: How Women Won The Vote”. His music has also been featured on the movie soundtracks of Smart People, London Tango, and Paul Williams - Still Alive.
In a previous life, Scott was a touring and studio musician for artists such as: Donna Summer, Sir Elton John, Aaron Neville, Andrae Crouch, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Skaggs, The Wilkinsons, Eddy Arnold, Brian Littrell (Backstreet Boys), David Foster, Larry Gatlin, Mindy McReady, Steve Wariner, Marc Antony, and Margaret Becker.


Connie Collins is an expert storyteller with extensive experience in commercial photography, theater and a master’s degree in journalism. Because of her passion to see people tell their stories, a commitment to immersive research and an uncanny ability to see what's at stake, Ms. Collins’s films help us see the world a bit differently.

She’s been a filmmaker since 2002 and her first film, A Trampoline, appeared at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The years since have seen her produce scores of documentary-style stories on topics ranging from human trafficking to recycling to adoption. Her most recent project “Out of the Shadows” looks at how birth moms are marginalized in our society with damaging assumptions and cultural stereotypes. Her present project OPEN serves as an extension of that story with further examination into the hopefulness and beauty of open adoption, a process that may offer a solution to the roles poverty and privilege play in adoption. 

Along with producing stories, Ms. Collins conducts video workshops for organizations and can be contracted as a consultant on retainer. Her hands-on, compassionate and straightforward coaching calls clients to “master their frame,” unleashing the full power of video in their stories. 







Rhea Butcher is a Los Angeles-based standup comic, actor and writer. Originally from the Midwest, Rhea grew up skateboarding the mean streets of Akron, Ohio. Their blue collar brand of cool has endeared them to audiences nationwide, as they’ve performed standup and appeared on shows such as The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, @Midnight and Conan. Rhea’s first television series, “Take My Wife”premiered as a critical hit and was reviewed by Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Vulture, IndieWire and countless other outlets. Rhea was a recurring performer on the TruTv series “Adam Ruins Everything,” and continues to tour the country, just recently on the Back To Back Tour with their wife, Cameron Esposito. Their debut standup album, “Butcher”, and recent release with Cameron Esposito, "Back To Back: Live" both debuted at number one on iTunes. Rhea was also named one of Variety’s Top Ten Comics To Watch 2017 at the Just For Laughs festival.