It’s official – the 38th annual Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) kicks off tonight with “Not Another Happy Ending.” If you don’t know what CIFF is, shame on you. But really, it is a fabulous film festival that promotes artistically and culturally significant films through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community. The majority of films are shown at Tower City Cinemas, while others are shown at local theaters like the Cedar Lee Theater.
The festival starts today and runs through March 30th, so you’ll likely see a lot of posts reviewing the movies I’ve see and what the buzz is around other films. This is the biggest year yet with over 180 feature films and over 165 short films, leaving you with options for every artistic taste. March 24th is a free day sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation in celebration of their centennial so you may want to see if there are any films available on that day! All other days of the festival, tickets are $12 for members and $14 for non-members.
Helpful tips to make your experience more enjoyable:
- Buy your tickets in advance. Don’t wait until the day of the show because the majority of shows sell out and you’ll be placed on stand-by.
- Arrive 15-20 minutes early for your film to ensure that you get a decent seat in the theater. It’s first come, first serve.
- If you do choose to wait until the day of to buy tickets, you’ll most likely be placed in the stand-by line. Many times there will be seats available, but it is never guaranteed.
- If you live downtown, walk. If you don’t live downtown, try and take the RTA buses or rapid. Parking is limit at Tower City so you’ll save yourself some hassle!
- Be ready to get addicted. The energy and buzz at CIFF is unreal. People take off the entire 12 day festival and go on a movie watching frenzy. Once you go, you’ll understand why!
Films I’m looking forward to:
A Thousand Times Goodnight: Juliette Binoche plays Rebecca, a war photographer who constantly risks harm just to capture the perfect shot. After a particularly dangerous stint in Afghanistan, her husband asks her to give up her passion. As she focuses her energy on her family, an opportunity for her daughter to visit a refugee camp in Kenya put them both in danger. Will her desire to document tragedy come before her safety and her daughter’s?
Ivory Tower: The price of college in America has risen 1120% since 1978. In the same period, prices for health care – the poster industry for excessive costs – have risen by only half that percentage. Ivory Tower is an unprecedented look at the American higher education system, once thought of worldwide as the model for educating people, and how it has now become a vehicle for the mass creation of debt. This film is a fascinating look at what could possibly be one of our nation’s foremost challenges and one of our biggest remedies – affordable education for all.
The Verdict: Luc Segers is a high-flying executive with a charming wife and beautiful daughter, on the cusp of being named CEO of an important multinational. But one night after a company party, Luc’s world comes crashing down. When he stops for gas, his wife is brutally murdered and his panicked daughter runs into the path of a speeding car. Luc is able to identify the killer, who is quickly apprehended. But a legal procedural error allows the suspect to go free, and the criminal action is dismissed. Beside himself with grief and fury, Luc stalks the suspect and, taking the only action possible for him, shoots him down. Deliberately drawing attention to the failure of the justice system, he demands to be tried by a jury.
Antarctica: A Year on Ice: Nature photographer Anthony Powell spent ten years making this documentary. It was so cold he had to build a special camera to withstand the frigid temperatures. Because of this, he was also able to capture the continent’s pitch-black winter with a precision that no one else could. This gorgeous film observes the harsh region from all angles, whether it’s adorable penguins or terrifying ice storms. Rather than just focusing on the environmental aspects, Powell goes to the people. As he follows the everyday functions of workers from the many research stations, we’re able to see what it’s like to live in such extreme conditions and the effect it has.
Paris of Perish: This hilarious and snarky film, features the fabulously talented Reem Kherici who plays Maya, an “It” girl in the atelier of Parisian haute couture designer Paul Ritz. A 20-year resident of France who is proud to have stilettoed her way to the top of the fashion heap, she’s long since buried her identity as a North African. One day a teeny accident leads Maya to a run-in with the police, and voilà! She finds herself deported. What follows is a priceless fish-out-of-water tale as Maya struggles to Louboutin her way out of the desert and back to Paris in time for Fashion Week. But has she really left her roots behind?
Finding Home: Stephanie Freed was just another soccer mom, content with her comfortable American lifestyle. But after hearing her father’s horrific stories of human trafficking while he was stationed in Cambodia, she decided she needed to see things for herself. In Cambodia she discovered something heartbreaking: bright, beautiful young women being exploited and sold into abhorrent slavery. Shaken, she took the initiative and co-founded Rapha House, an orphanage and recovery program for girls and young women trying to get out of the treacherous life in trafficking and prostitution. Through Rapha House, we meet a remarkable group of women and see the way in which their toxic pasts affect their lives. But all of them demonstrate the insuppressible human spirit, as these courageous women fight to create a better world.