Lights, Camera, Cleveland: The Cleveland International Film Festival
By Carly Wellener
The 39th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) wrapped up its showings on March 29th in Tower City. This week long extravaganza is the most fun a movie buff could have in Cleveland, and it is really quite enjoyable for the rest of us as well! Cleveland may not be the first place people think of when they think “film festival,” but it really should be. CIFF has really grown in recent years, 186% larger than in 2003, attracting more and more directors from all over the world with sixty countries represented. I had the pleasure of being among the 100,204 people attending the fast-growing festival over spring break.
It was my first experience with the festival and was really caught off guard by the sheer number of people, a testament to the festival’s somewhat underrated popularity. I was also amazed by the incredible quality and variety of the films I available. With 196 feature films and 234 short films, there was something at CIFF for everyone. There was everything from documentaries, comedies, animated shots, to a movie with Liam Hemsworth, and dramas.
One of the films I was able to see, Frame by Frame, directed by Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli won the ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman. It was a fabulous documentary shot in Afghanistan about the struggles and importance of photojournalism in the country. It was crucial to the documentary that the directors were women as in many households in Afghanistan, male directors would not have been able to talk with the women, only to the men, and, therefore, would have struggled to create a documentary that fully encapsulates life and journalism in Afghanistan.
You can watch the trailer here:
By far, the best part of the festival was that the directors were available for questions after every showing of their films. It was an amazing experience to be able to talk face to face with the people who actually made the films you just watched and to hear what they personally were trying to portray and express in their film. All in all, I implore anyone who likes great movies (who doesn’t tbh?) and interesting people to try and go to CIFF next year a catch a film or two, I know I’ll be there!