The Cleveland International Film Festival began in 1977 with just eight films from seven different countries. It was organized by Jonathan Forman and held at the Cedar Lee Theatre.
Over the last few decades the event has come a long way. This year there are over 120 films and 110 short subjects, from nearly 60 different countries. The 31st annual Cleveland International Film Festival began on March 15 and will run through March 25 at Tower City Cinemas.
CIFF brings to Cleveland 100 guest filmmakers as well, one of which is an Australian director named Rolf de Heer. Rolf de Heer is this year’s winner of the CIFF Director’s Spotlight award. Since the debut of his first film in 1984, de Heer has been known for crossing the lines of genre and style.
The first Cleveland screening of de Heer’s work came during the 17th annual CIFF with a film called “Bad Boy Bubby.” Several of his films are being screened at this year’s festival, including “Alexandra’s Project,” “Bad Boy Bubby,” “Dingo,” “The Old Man Who Read Love Stories,” “Tail of a Tiger,” “The Tracker” and his latest film “Ten Canoes.”
Rolf de Heer was present at the festival on March 18, to introduce the first and only screening for CIFF of his newest film, “Ten Canoes.” De Heer said that the “shoot was unlike anything I’d ever experienced,” as he described working in swamp conditions surrounded by leeches and mosquitoes while directing actors whom many of which had never acted before.
“Ten Canoes” tells us the story of two brothers, Minygululu and Dyindi, as they prepare to hunt goose eggs. It is set in the Australian swamplands one thousand years ago and is meant to experience the Aboriginal oral tradition. De Heer exceeds expectations as he tells a story of “love, lust, sorcery and revenge” in “Ten Canoes.”
Though de Heer says that he dislikes traveling and staying in hotels, which he jokingly refers to as “dog boxes,” he says that the Cleveland Film Society has been so great that “I can’t say I won’t be back because I might.”
Another director whose work is being screened this year is Arni Olaful Asgeirsson from Iceland. His 2006 film “Blódbönd,” read as “Thicker Than Water” in English, takes the audience through the mind of Pétur, the main character during a shocking and troubling time in his life. The film is in Icelandic with English subtitles.
Pétur finds out in the beginning of the film that his son, Örn, who is eight years old, is really not his biological child. He is forced to deal with the betrayal and deceit of his wife’s past and to make his journey even more difficult, his wife Ásta is currently pregnant with another child. The film takes the audience into the inner workings of Pétur’s emotional revelation as he tries to decide what to do with this life-altering information.
Also playing at this years festival is “Beautiful Ohio” directed by Chad Lowe, a Dayton native. It is set in Cleveland during the early 1970’s. A boy is trying to find his own identity while in the shadow of his older brother, a math prodigy.
If you’re in need of a genuinely enriching experience, stop by the 31st annual Cleveland International Film Festival now through March 25, 2007.
In addition to over 120 features and guest directors, you can also catch an interactive discussion on the art, craft, and business of filmmaking on March 24-25 at Cleveland State University titled “Confessions of the Filmmaker.”
If you’re a real film buff, the “Confessions of the Filmmaker” might interest you.
Saturday March 24 there is a discussion on “Local Heroes: The Importance of Regional Filmmaking” from 11a.m.-12:30 p.m. and from 1p.m.-2:30 p.m. “On a Shoestring: The Challenges and Rewards of Low Budget Production.” From 3p.m.-4:30 p.m. Shooting with a Purpose: “The Socially Conscious Filmmaker.”
Sunday March 25, from 12 p.m.-1:30p.m. “Getting it Seen: Film Festivals, Distribution, and Finding an Audience” and from 2 p.m.-3:30p.m. “Old and New Media: The Intersection of Film and Digital Technology.”