Cleveland International Film Festival celebrates 40 years

April 7th, 2016



The 40th annual Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) began Wednesday, March 30 and will continue until Sunday, April 10. The festival, mainly taking place at Tower City Cinemas, will also showcase film presentations in other theaters across the Cleveland area.


The Cleveland International Film Festival, which started on April 13, 1977, showcased eight films from seven countries. This year’s festival is larger compared to previous years, with over 192 features and 213 short films, drawing in larger audiences to participate in the event.


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For its 40th anniversary, artistic director for the Cleveland International Film Festival, Bill Guentzler has been preparing for this particular festival for the past 18 years. Alongside Mallory Martin, CIFF director of programming and projection, Guentzler visited about 10 other festivals to select the particular films shown at this year’s film festival.


Coming from 72 countries, the festival’s featured films will include web series selections and music videos, in addition to the first showing of a 3-D documentary, “The Art of Burning.” Another festival highlight will be the world premiere of “Believeland,” the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary that chronicles the shortcomings of Cleveland sports franchises for the past several decades, which screened for the first time at Playhouse Square on March 30.


For the fourth time in the festival’s 40-year history, the festival will present a Legacy Award to this year’s recipient, Michael Loderstedt, who works as a professor of art in printmaking and photography at Kent State University. Other winners of the festival’s various awards will also receive a piece of his artwork as an additional prize.


“We have a really strong lineup of local films,” said Guentzler, according to “One film that really floored me in terms of the quality of the filmmaking and direction is ‘Mad.’ It’s directed by Robert Putka. It’s about three women — two daughters and their mother — and the problems they’re having after their mother checks herself into a mental clinic. The writing is fantastic and I’m really happy we’re screening at the Capitol as one of our neighborhood screenings.”


One particular film of interest is “All About Them,” a French film depicting a controversial love story. Charlotte and Micah are in love. They make dinner together, Micah rushes home from his job as a veterinarian to see Charlotte, and the two seem to be edging closer and closer to the prospect of marriage, but Micah is also in love with someone else—a beautiful lawyer by the name of Mélodie.


Another film to look out for is the animated feature made in the United States, “Alex and Sylvia.”  The film tells the story of Sylvia, a successful scientist that must take over her grandmother’s small-town bakery. Audiences follow Sylvia’s story as she discovers how life sometimes has different plans for you than what you expected.


A new addition to the film festival this year is a “perspectives exhibition,” which will take over an empty storefront at Tower City Center. This exhibition will feature 10 virtual reality films and six other interactive media programs and will be free and open to the public.


“If you haven’t experienced what virtual reality is now, this is the next generation of it,” says Guentzler. “The projects we have are films that immerse you into the film. You’re watching a film take place and you’re inside of it, which is pretty amazing. There are lots of film festivals around the world that are now featuring this and we wanted to get in on the ground floor. It’s a new way of telling stories.”


Tickets for the 40th Cleveland International Film Festival are $14.00 for Cleveland International Film Festival members and $16.00 for non-members. To purchase tickets or to become a Cleveland International Film Festival member, visit


Editor’s Note: Information from, and was used in this report.