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Family White Elephants

(Mary Jo Bole, 2023) 

Cinema Columbus Film Festival

Mary Jo Bole in person  
Q&A follows

World Premiere

An older woman is touching the eye of a white elephant figurine.

Columbus-based artist Mary Jo Bole’s first feature film explores her family’s history in Cleveland through their eccentric family archive.

Artist and director Mary Jo Bole’s documentary explores the two sides of her family tree, a trove of inherited possessions, and a preoccupation with death, all of which have informed her artistic practice. Bole takes a historian’s interest in her family’s storied genealogy, which includes industrial titans like Carnegie and Rockefeller on one side and Eastern European immigrants on the other. She pieces together their stories through a collection of inherited photographs, newspaper articles, and other ephemera as well as interviews with her mother, Ruth, recorded before her passing. 

Preserved and handed down by a lineage of women, Bole’s eccentric family archive documents the Industrial Revolution and offers a familial front row seat to the Gilded Age of Cleveland and its demise. As she reconciles the weight of these excessive family possessions, Bole offers a parallel history of her own artistic practice, which has been influenced by this archive and her upbringing in post-industrial Cleveland. 

Bole was a longtime professor in Ohio State’s Department of Art. She was awarded an Ohio Humanities Film Fellowship through the Wexner Center, and she received post-production support in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio for Family White Elephants. (102 mins, DCP)

We’re excited to partner with the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), Drexel Theatre, Gateway Film Center, Grandview Theater & Drafthouse, McConnell Arts Center, and Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse in presenting this event. Check out the rest of the festival schedule.

IMAGE CAPTION
Family White Elephants, courtesy of the artist.

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2024 Cinema Columbus Film Festival sponsors: CENCAM, Breezeline, Gateway Film Center, and Ohio Arts Council.

2024 Cinema Columbus Film Festival media partners: WCBE, WOSU Public Media, and Orange Barrel Media.

This film has been made possible in part by Ohio Humanities Film Fellows at the Wex and the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this film do not necessarily represent those of Ohio Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

SUPPORT FOR THIS PRESENTATION PROVIDED BY
Ohio Humanities
National Endowment for the Humanities

FILM/VIDEO PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY 
National Endowment for the Arts 
Ohio Humanities

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY 
Rohauer Collection Foundation

WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY 
Ohio Department of Development

Greater Columbus Arts Council

The Wexner Family 
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Ohio Arts Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts 
CampusParc 
Ohio State’s Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme 
The Columbus Foundation 
Nationwide Foundation 
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY 
Mike and Paige Crane 
Axium Packaging 
Nancy Kramer 
Ohio State Energy Partners 
Ohio History Fund/Ohio History Connection 
Larry and Donna James 
David Crane and Elizabeth Dang 
Bruce and Joy Soll 
Rebecca Perry Damsen and Ben Towle 
Jones Day 
Alex and Renée Shumate

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Family White Elephants