33rd Cleveland International Film Festival features more than 300 films

March 19th, 2009

The Cleveland International Film Festival will be held March 19 through March 29 at Tower City Cinemas, 230 West Huron Rd., Cleveland.  Tickets are $12 regularly and $10 for students, seniors and Cleveland Film Society members. To order tickets by phone, call 1.877.304.3456 or order online at

With 143 feature films and 174 shorts playing over the course of ten days, the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival is everything a movie lover could ask for.

“It’s Not Me, I Swear”

The annual festival began in 1977 and has grown steadily since its original eight-film program. Last year’s festival brought in more than 52,000 people, despite the harsh winter weather.  And this year brings several exciting new sidebars and honors.

The festival’s Artistic Director Bill Guentzler said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored the festival by making it a qualifying venue for two Oscar categories. “For our short films, we’re now a nominating festival, so the winners of our best live action and best animated short films can then be eligible next year for the Oscars – which is really cool,” said Guentzler.

In addition to this new aspect, two sidebars have been added to the program: Film is Art and The Sports Section. The festival’s regular sidebars include a section on empowering women, a “10%” sidebar that deals with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes, among other programs.

In his 11th year with the festival, Guentzler said, “There’s something for everybody at the festival.”

As the artistic director, Guentzler has the final say in which feature films ultimately make it into the festival. Guentzler said two of his favorite films at this year’s festival are a French-Canadian narrative film called “It’s Not Me, I Swear” and a documentary film titled, “The Way We Get By.”

“It’s Not Me, I Swear” is set in 1968 Quebec and is about a 10-year-old boy who is unhappy with his home life and contemplates running away. His father is an activist lawyer who neglects his family and his mother is a free-spirited artist who is frustrated with her suburban life.

Guentzler’s other favorite film, “The Way We Get By,” tracks three retired military troop greeters from Maine who dedicate their lives to greeting the troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another aspect of this year’s festival that Guentzler feels will be of particular interest to college students are the midnight screenings held on both Fridays and Saturdays of the festival, which begins today.

The midnight screenings include several feature films and many short programs, which include six to ten short films that last roughly two hours, for the price of one ticket. “The short films are fun because you’re getting a mix of everything,” said Guentzler.