I really really really like film festivals.
It's partly because of the energy and partly because of the viewing selections.
Everyone is there because they appreciate the art of filmmaking and a well-told story. You can literally hear and feel the buzz of excitement in the waiting lines, the theatre lobby, and the viewing rooms themselves. There are hundreds of movies to choose from, including short films, foreign films and documentaries. If you like a good character-driven plotline, you will love the projects shown here.
I have attended festivals in three different states now and the feeling is the same. The people even tend to look the same, with the exception of all the pony-tailed men I noticed in Cleveland this time around. Wow.
As with most of the films screened at festivals, these selections had the director and featured cast members present. These Amazing Shadows even included a formal Film Forum moderated by the lovely Dee Perry (I totally had a public radio geek moment when I heard she was there). Surrogate Valentine included a presentation of CIFF's 'Someone to Watch' award (you can see the director receiving his prize in the photo below, with the lead actor in the second row capturing the speech on his phone), and an informal Q&A session afterwards.
So, make that the third thing I love about film festivals (directors engaging with the audience). I am now a Dave Boyle fan.
Cleveland's event was held in one location, the Tower City Center. It looks like a mall and smells like a mall, but it doesn't have the enthusiasm and sparkle of a mall. It seems to me, this shopping center was something special at one time, but has become a sad after-thought.
The one thing it did have going for it was it's architecture. This building is incredible by design. Since all of the stores closed at 7pm (on a Saturday!), we were left asking for coffee at the Hard Rock Cafe bar. Outside of the restaurant, we sat and discussed the first movie we watched and our anticipation of the second, then we noticed the lit arches inside reflecting on the glass window looking outside.
It was a stunning surprise.
My fellow film festival groupie/friend, Erika, and I often dream about meeting for Sundance, Tribeca, Telluride or Cannes. She went with me to my very first festival screening in Newport Beach in 2006. We were this close to meeting Edward Norton during The Illusionist showcase.
As with the other festivals around the world, CIFF's Vision Statement is simple: Cleveland International Film Festival is a leader in helping the world discover the power of the film arts to educate, entertain, and celebrate the human experience.
Celebrate the human experience.