For sports fans, March Madness means another thrilling college hoops tournament. But for fans of Cleveland and film, March brings its own brand of excitement: the annual arrival of the Cleveland International Film Festival.
As much as I love Saint Patrick’s Day, CIFF is tops on my March must-do list.
The festival opens tonight with an Opening Gala that includes a screening of I’ll See You In My Dreams featuring Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Rhea Perlman and many other amazing actors. It’s a star-filled way to celebrate the festival and cinema.
Over the course of the 39th festival, which runs through March 29, 190+ feature films and 220+ short films from 60 countries will be screened.
Although the festival’s main hub is at Tower City, films will be screened all over the area. A few of the 11 neighborhood screening locations include Chagrin Cinemas in Chagrin Falls, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, and The Nightlight in Akron.
There are films for every interest. In addition to their main program, this year’s festival continues to present a selection of “sidebars” or themed film groupings focused around Pan-Asian Films, Focus on Disabilities, Family Films, African Diaspora, Cinema en Espanol and many other topics.
One of the films in the Women of the World sidebar and two of the festival’s competitions is Semicolon; The Adventures of Ostomy Girl.
It features Dana, a 25-year-old woman who was diagnosed at age four with Crohn’s disease. It follows her and her mother as they travel between their home in Las Vegas and the Cleveland Clinic. Instead of viewing all of the surgeries, medications and close encounters with death as a tragedy, Dana tells her story with a grin and a sharp sense of humor.
To quote the film description: “SEMICOLON; THE ADVENTURES OF OSTOMY GIRL is not a story of disease and decay. This is a story of defiance and determination. Prepare to lose your heart as well as your inhibitions about not laughing at ‘certain things.’ Dana will teach you the meaning of courage, along with the value of a really good poop joke!”
With so many films to choose from, deciding what to do during CIFF can be overwhelming. Especially if it’s your first year. However, CIFF’s Film Guide, their website (www.clevelandfilm.org) and social media (@CIFF and Cleveland International Film Festival on Facebook are just two) are excellent places to start.
Fresh Water Cleveland also asked veteran festival goers like Eat Drink Cleveland what advice they’d give attendees. It’s a must-read.
Once you have an idea about which films you want to see, you can buy tickets online. Tickets are available for purchase online until 11 PM on the day before a screening. You may also purchase tickets by phone (877.304.3456) or in person at the Film Festival Box Office in the lobby of Tower City Cinemas.
Day-of tickets are only available for purchase in person at the Film Festival Box Office.
While you’re at it, head over to USA TODAY to vote for the Cleveland International Film Festival as the best film festival in the U.S.
The contest is part of USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards and CIFF needs your help. Vote for them today and every day (one vote per person per day) through Monday, April 13th to show your support. It only takes two clicks: 10best.com/awards/travel/best-film-festival.
See you at the movies!