Calling all film enthusiasts, Cleveland fans and supporters of the arts. Downtown Cleveland is hosting hundreds of foreign and independent films this month at the Cleveland International Film Festival.
The festival began Wednesday, March 19 and is scheduled to run through Sunday, March 30.
The festival features movies from a variety of categories, including both independent and foreign films.
For the first time, there will be free admission for screenings on Monday, March 24. This day of free admission is sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation in order to recognize its centennial.
However, Monday will not be the only day that students can see the films for free. As part of the CIFF College Program, students with a college ID will be admitted for free on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday and Saturday nights after 11 p.m. This offer is available from Thursday, March 20 through Saturday, March 29. Students who want to become CIFF members can do so for a discounted cost of $25.
According to Patrick Shepherd, the associate director of the festival, there will be about 500 screenings throughout the entire festival. He also stated that the team behind the festival is made up of around 1,000 people. This team includes a full-time staff of seven, about 200 seasonal staff and about 800 volunteers.
New this year is the official Cleveland International Film Festival mobile app, which is available for both the iPhone and the Android. The app allows users to see the schedule of screenings and the list of films being screened. Users can also keep track of their own schedule of screenings they plan to attend, if they are a CIFF member. This app adds to the festival’s media presence that also includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, as well as the official CIFF website. On the Facebook page, for example, you can keep up with the most recent news regarding the festival. The CIFF Instagram account, @clefilmfest, shares snapshots of merchandise and CIFF-related events with its followers.
Shepherd described the affect of new technology on the festival.
“The website and the digital platforms allow us to get information out there instantly,” Shepherd said. “For example, the program for the festival continues to evolve even after the program guide is printed. So right now there are a couple films that are in the festival that you can’t even see in the program guide. The only place you’d be able to find out that information would be to go to the latest updates on the website or on the mobile application.”
According to the CIFF website, the first festival took place in 1977, lasted for eight weeks and only showed eight films. Its original location was at the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights.
“Cleveland has such an enthusiastic film-going community. We feel that the festival belongs to the community, and they help make it such a great success,” Shepherd said.
CIFF gives out awards distributed across 10 competitions, such as the Global Health Competition. According to the CIFF website, the winner of this particular competition will be based on films that include issues of environmental or human health. Another film award, called the ReelWomenDirectAward for Excellence in Directing by a Woman, will go to a female director.
CIFF tickets are available for purchase online at clevelandfilm.org/tickets. Tickets are $12 for members and $14 for non-members.