Monday, March 24, 2014

The Cleveland International Film Festival

     There are a lot of great things about Northeast Ohio: museums, eclectic neighborhoods, sports (maybe not so great, but would you accept a good variety?), food, parks, Lake Erie, and so much more. Last week, for the first time, I attended the Cleveland International Film Festival. I immediately knew this would be another great event to add to the long list of great reasons to visit or live in Cleveland
     This year marks the 38th CIFF. The first was held over several weeks in 1977 at the Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Hts. In 1991, the event was moved to Tower City. That year, about 14,000 people attended. By 2013, attendance was up to about 93,000. This year, it is expected to surpass 100,000. 
     The CIFF works with a budget of over $2 million. Over 1800 films were submitted this year, and I'm sure it was difficult to select the 180 feature films and 165 shorts from 60 countries that made the cut. 

     Although I had heard about the film festival for years, I never knew much about it. Last year, one of the guys in my book club did something that shocked me: he demanded that our club meetings be scheduled around CIFF. The nerve! As we talked about it, and he shared some things about the movies he saw, I was intrigued. But I didn't think much about it until this year when another book club member mentioned that his company was a sponsor of the CIFF. It seemed I was being ganged up on by my book club friends, so I decided to try and attend. 

     There was only one day that my hectic schedule would allow me to go to CIFF: Thursday, March 20th. So plans were made. I was overwhelmed not only by the number of films to choose from, but how interesting most of them seemed after reading about them or watching the trailers.  

     Although difficult, I made good choices. They included: 

  •  Kidnapped for Christ, a documentary about schools for troubled youth that lack government regulation and are sometimes abusive towards students. Directed by Kate S. Logan; it is her first feature film. Watch the trailer here
  • Ivory Tower, a documentary about the increasing price of college tuition directed by Andrew Rossi, an Emmy nominated filmmaker who has directed Page One: Inside the New York Times, Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven, and Eat This New York. Watch a trailer here. 
  • Oliver, Stoned, a coming of age stoner comedy directed by Ohio native Tom Morris, who has also directed General Education
     Each of the three films were great, although very different. I'm hoping to provide a short review of each of them later this week, and was therefore intentionally vague in their descriptions.

     One of the many great things about the CIFF was that after each movie, there was a short discussion about it. For each of the three I attended at least the director was there, but sometimes cast members, producers, writers, and experts on the subject matter were also present for discussions and Q & A. 

     This year is the first of what I hope to be many years of attending the Cleveland International Film Festival. I encourage everyone to make an effort to attend, either this year or in the future. Not all films are for everyone, but I'm confident everyone will be able to find a few that are right for them. 

     The CIFF runs through March 30th, 2014. 

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