CIFF 36 carried away balloons
With 36 years under its belt, the Cleveland International Film Festival has seen some rough patches where it seemed to be the end of the line. Happily, those days are far behind this beautiful Cleveland masterpiece. Thus far, this years attendance has been record breaking. And hand in hand with that, is the fact that filmgoers are rising to the occasion and supporting the event with donations to the festival's challenge match.
It's so great to see so many people recognizing and appreciating the monumental importance this has for Cleveland and for cinema at large. So, thanks to everyone who's helped out; every dollar you have given (and will give) is matched by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture - turning it into $2!
Today was a great day at the cinemas. At this point in the festival, when you're watching 3+ films a day, sometimes films can lose their heterogeneity - almost bleeding into one another. Luckily for you and I, Bill Guentzler is a master film connoisseur.
The stand-out film by far today was Cracks in the Shell. Holy Moses - and I'm not referring to Great Lakes Brewing. I've been awed, tickled, patted and wooed by many films this year. I'm happy to announce that I have now also had my teeth kicked in. This film was stunning in every way a character piece should be - and darkly ominous as well. People have referenced Black Swan when discussing this film due to many striking similarities. But what people didn't realize is that Aronofsky didn't quite take us all the way down the rabbit hole of depravity.
The protagonist of this film, Josephine, pulls at the strings of humanity's psyche and its adoration of what Freud referred to as the "unheimliche" - the uncanny. And trust me, this film is nothing if not a Freudian plunge into the sadness of interpersonal relationships, the depravity of authority rendered on its dependents.
Josephine encapsulates the need of humans to belong, to succeed and to be challenged to reach those goals. She is a drama major at university who is selected to be Camille in the play by the same name - a character of raging passion and insatiable desire. She is the Id. And as she comes to terms with her own belief and misgivings about her life - all of the torment, abuse, misguided love and all of the neglect - she is quickly unraveled like a spool of wire cascading off an escarpment. She stops at little, if not nothing, to become whole and to become visible out of the world of invisibility she comes from.
This film may be a top contender for this year's Best Film.
It was simply stunning and you MUST see it. (ps - NOT for the squeamish)