The 40th Cleveland International Film Festival Opens Tonight
The 40th Cleveland International Film Festival opens tonight at Tower City. About 200 feature films and 200 shorts from 72 countries will be shown over the next two weeks.
WKSU’sKabirBhatia spoke with Associate Director Patrick Shepherd about how the festival has grown from just eight films presented at the Cedar Lee in 1977 to a selection of movies, web programming and -- this year -- virtual reality.
The #CIFF40 opens and closes with a pair of coming-of-age films: “Good Ol’ Boy” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” respectively. In between, will be their 40th anniversary signature event: The premiere of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “Believeland,” which traces the narrative of Cleveland sports and its fans from the glory years of the 1940s and 1950s up through the 2015 NBA Finals. The film shows at the Connor Palace Theater, which holds 2,800 people. Tower City’s theaters hold 250 people on average.
After the film, WKYC’s Jim Donovan will moderate a discussion with Earnest Byner of the Browns, Craig Ehlo of the Cavs, Elyria native and Director Andy Billman, author Scott Raab and sportscaster Tony Rizzo.
Again this year, there will be films showing in Akron. The second weekend of the festival will be Knight and Day in Akron, which opens Friday night with a film called “Akron” at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. There will be screenings of films throughout the day on Saturday at the Akron Art Museum and at the Nightlight Theater.
Technology also plays a part in this year's festival, with new initiatives that weren't possible when the Film Fest started in 1977.
Web series will be shown for the first time, in a shorts program. Film Fest members can then watch the rest of the series online.
In a separate part of Tower City, an empty storefront will become an immersive experience. The new interactive exhibit, “Perspectives,” is the first step toward new ways filmmakers can create content on multiple platforms.
"This is not just a pretty kaleidoscope of colors that you’re watching; you are put in the place of a Syrian refugee and what that’s like as an experience," Shepherd says.
Forest City recently sold Tower City to Bedrock Detroit, a company owned by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Shepherd says he's looking forward to introducing the CIFF to the new landlords.
"We’re so grateful to Forest City for their sponsorship and generosity since 1991. ... And we’re going to invite as many folks as we can so they can see how great Tower City is over the course of those 12 festival days."