As the long months of this winter begin to give way to the rainy days of Midwestern spring, it's the perfect time to get out ... and then go right back inside. Because, let's face it: as stir-crazy and cabin-fevered as we all are, the weather is still unforgiving and uninviting, and just generally two thumbs down (cloudy, with a chance of clouds?).
Fret not. The Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) is around the corner and knocking on Akron's door.
So, why get excited?
As one of the faster growing and increasingly recognized film festivals nationwide, the CIFF is an unparalleled opportunity to see a patchwork of world culture and fantastic film. More than 150 features and 150 shorts from over 80 countries will be represented, bringing with them the unique sights, sounds and world views of their homelands. And much of the festival's oeuvre represents ideas and images from nations and individuals often times beyond our Northeastern Ohio reach.
I repeat: seize the day on this one, folks. (You actually have 11 days to seize: March 18-28.)
Whether you're a film buff, sports fanatic, art enthusiast, couch potato, or video gamer, you really ought to hit up the festival at least once, because you'll most likely find something that'll interest you.
Here's just a few of the films I'm looking forward to seeing and some ridiculously short synopses to go along with them:
(Follow the links to view extended descriptions and trailers.)
- Stolen: a documentary investigating modern day slavery of black Saharawis by white Arabs in U.N. monitored refugee camps in the western Saharan region.
- The Animated Shorts program: a collection of 11 international animated short films with run-times ranging from 3 to 24 minutes. Visual candy.
- Trailerpark: This dark comedy pulls apart the idea of the "small-world" film and reassembles it in a much smaller package: a trailer park.
- Van Diemen's Land: the story of an escaped convict and his cohort as they face Australia's unforgiving van Diemen's Land in their pursuit of freedom.
- Dear Lemon Lima: a film that for all intents and purposes appears like a hybridization of "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Juno" (i.e. adult scenarios painted on the canvas of youth ... Napoleon Junomite anyone?), but looks like something enjoyable, if not memorable.
- Out of Place: Local filmmakers document the unlikely and surprising phenomenon of surfing on Lake Erie. I didn't make that up. Surfing on Lake Erie. Novelty and cinematography are just two reasons I want to see this film.
- Fire In the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America: A film about the decade of death leading up to the infamous Kent State shootings, including the political, cultural and socioeconomic climates of the time.
- Bomber: Something slightly heart-warming / heart-attacking about a grown man taking a road trip with his aged parents. This looks to be a surprising dramedy that will be solidly entertaining and poignantly thoughtful.
- Turtle: At first glance, this looks like a nature lover's cup o' tea. But this documentary, following the journey of a loggerhead turtle across the sea, will certainly appeal to anyone of any age who appreciates a good story, quality cinematography, sea animals, or just life in general. Family friendly.
- Black Box: Why am I excited about this film? Why wouldn't I be. The story of an otherwise wholesome man who finds himself at the business end of Mexico's brutal, seedy underbelly. Two contiguous stories are largely told in flashbacks as captured in the murky greens of security cameras. This film will probably prove to be either one of my favorites or one of my epic-failure-type let downs.
I will be continually adding to this list through out the week, so check back.
Here's a list of some of the festival categories you may also want to search through:
Eastern European films
Women of The World (films about or directed by women)
Film is Art
10% Cinema films (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender)
Jewish and Israeli Visions
Pacific Pearls (Asia and Pacific Islands Films)
It's Easy Being Green (films dealing with environmental issues)
Cinema En Español
Local Heroes, spotlighting works by local filmmakers
I hope to see you there and look forward to reading your responses to these films.
The Cleveland International Film Festival runs from March 18 to March 28.