The saddest day of the year for me is always the day after the Cleveland International Film Festival ends. It's like stepping out of Oz, back into the black & white dust-bowl. The incessant barrage of creativity, new ideas, new points of view and a plethora of eye-candy makes it hard to say goodbye to the 35th CIFF. But I guess Marcie Goodman, Bill Guentzler and Patrick Shepherd (and the rest of the cast responsible for the amazing event) deserve a little rest after pulling off such a feat. A special thanks to Bill for a killer film lineup and program that would make Cannes blush.
This year, the festival broke attendance records like they were promises during election primaries. Along with the largest day ever (over 10k on the first Saturday of the Fest), the festival broke it's total attendance record by quite a few thousand with 78,030 attendees. Closely related to this total, is the fact that the festival was able to raise well over $60,000 in its challenge match to ensure another great film festival next year! So, thanks to everyone who gave even a buck to help out: Each dollar given at the festival is match by the Ohio Arts Council, which puts the total closer to $120k!
Some personal highlights of the film fest in no specific order:
• hearing that the film akronlife sponsored (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) won the Central & Eastern European Film Competition
• having Great Lakes Brewing Company close by
• Steam of Life - a great doc with feature-esque qualities that give it a surreal "fly on the wall" feel
• hospitality suite - consider being a pass-holder next year because this is a great place to catch your breath, eat and discuss film with the pros between films
• 5 or 6 films per day
• i remembered my Visine and ibuprofen
• writing about an amazing festival and amazing films
• having my head overwhelmed day and night with the festival's theme song ... but I can be ... "A Part of the Story!"
Here's a quick rundown of some of this year's winners, including the
ROXANNE T. MUELLER AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST FILM WINNER: VINCENT WANTS TO SEA (Directed Ralf Huettner)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM AWARD: THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM AWARD: SAVE THE FARM
GREG GUND MEMORIAL STANDING UP FILM COMPETITION WINNER: DYING TO DO LETTERMAN (Directed by Joke Fincioen & Biagio Messina)
CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPEAN FILM COMPETITION WINNER (sponsored by akronlife magzine / akronlife.com): IF I WANT TO WHISTLE, I WHISTLE (Directed by Florin Serban)
NESNADNY + SCHWARTZ DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION WINNER: STEAM OF LIFE (Directed by Joonas Berghall & Mika Hotakainen)
BEST AMERICAN INDEPENDENT AWARD WINNER: HAMILL (Directed by Oren Kaplan)