CIFF 36 carried away balloons
36th Cleveland International Film Festival: March 22 - April 1
The gates have opened wide and we are definitely off to the races with this year's Film Fest! And as always the festival's staff is creating a seamless environment of festival bliss. So, be sure to thank any and all of the CIFF team for the amazing job they're doing with a festival that's already an international hit! Cheers guys!
I started the day with a film I was't expecting to see. But due to an unforeseen sleep conflict, I ended up seeing Jamie and Jessie are not Together. And while I wasn't too excited with the "musical" aspects of the film that staggerdly reared up every so often, I will say that I was caught off guard by the acting and character development in this film. Jessie (played by Jessica London-Shields) almost literally blossomed on screen. While both she and Jamie (played by Jacqui Jackson) were solid characters, the evolution of Jessie from timid and self-conscious to confident and whole, makes this rather light-heard film a standout. Though it is amateurish in many ways, this is a quick, enjoyable film that will add a nice cushion to an otherwise intense day at the film festival.
In sharp contrast, the masterful film Tyrannosaur was about as far from lighthearted as you can possibly get and still be able to breathe. Stunning performances by Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman will have you leaving hand prints in the arm rests. The films is as much about the evolution of the characters as it is about distracting you from, then subsequently revealing to you their true natures. Toying with the ideas of anger and violence and what it means to use and misuse them, the film tears at your heart. And while you probably won't find yourself conflicted very often throughout the 1.5 hour film, it is likely that you will find yourself closely identifying with one (or more) of the characters in some aspect of their struggle against their own personal violence, anger or self-loathing. Mullan shines in the way a brooding, unstable anti-hero ought to: cold, genuine, self-effacing, sensitive, often aloof and at varying times despicable and brave. This is a must see for this years festival goers. As you may have guessed, it is not for the faint hearted.
The final film of the day was a quirky, seldom comic gem named Alps. A rather extreme take on psychological recovery and coping, the films characters are live-in surrogates and and shells of people who died. Their goal is to help the survivors ease into a new life by placating that defensive part of the psyche that can't bear to deal with separation and loss. While the film follows these surrogates into their "stand-in" lives, it is quickly made apparent that it is impossible to try to offset the power of the psyche and endure no repercussions. The walls between the helper and the helped are held up by little more than fantasy and soon begin to fade, causing more harm to the surrogates than help to the bereaved. While it might not be in the top 10 for this festival, this is good film that will make any festival-goer take pause.
There's still a ton of exciting cinema looming on the horizon at the 36th Cleveland International Film Festival. For example, today's huge gem for me is the Dreileben trilogy!! And if you're looking for some good between-film lounging, my friend and Buzzbin writer, Aaron Fowler and I took a few minutes and a flight of great IPAs at the Tremont Taphouse and then another minute and a pint of Trouble IPA at Market Garden - both a short jaunt from the festival. And don't forget that right around the corner is the Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Also don't forget to get $2 off your ticket purchases with the code AKRLFE when you purchase online at clevelandfilm.org.