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It’s show time for Cleveland’s film festival

BY JOE BIANCHINI

The 34th Annual Cleveland International Film Festival will be at Tower City Center on March 18 and run through March 28. This year CIFF will feature over 300 films, including more than 140 features and 170 short subjects from over 60 countries.

Executive Director of CIFF Marcie Goodman, explained that CIFF is celebrating its 20th Anniversary at Tower City Center. The festival is proud to present its first Legacy Award to Tower City Center and Forest City Enterprises. Having it in downtown Cleveland has “resulted in unprecedented visibility and growth for CIFF,” according to its organizers.

Dozens of filmmakers and special guests attend CIFF where they introduce their films, discuss their work and participate in film forums and panel discussions.
Cleveland State University is one of the leading sponsors and partners of the film festival.

As one of the platinum sponsors since 2007, CSU partners with CIFF in organizing panel discussions and sponsoring three film categories.
With so many films expected to be screened at CIFF, they are organized in sidebar categories according to genre.

“This year’s sidebar collection is bigger than ever before, featuring several new categories and giving you a wider selection to choose from,” according to CIFF’s website.

CSU is sponsoring three sidebars, “Cinema en Español,” “Pan-African Images,” and “Local Heroes”; a category co-sponsored with Tim and Nancy Callahan, dedicated to films made about Cleveland, in Cleveland or by Ohioans.

CSU will also help administer the Cleveland State University Audience Choice Award for Best Short Subject for the fourth year in a row. CIFF attendees determine this award by casting their votes on a ballot throughout the 11-day event. The top voter will receive the CSU sponsored award on Sunday March 28.

CSU will host and organize “Let’s Make Movies: A series of Interactive Panel Discussions on Filmmaking.” Dr. Kimberly Neuendorf and Dr. Evan Lieberman, film and digital media professors in the School of Communication are in-charge of putting this series of five panel discussions together. Filmmakers from this year’s festival and members of the local film production community will come to CSU to discuss the art, craft and business of moving image production.

“I’ve heard many wonderful things from the panel discussions. It’s a great partnership to be working with CSU,” said Goodman. She also added how CIFF has had great interns from CSU over the past years.

Many CSU students will be volunteering with CIFF this year. Dr. Neuendorf and Dr. Lieberman are also encouraging their students to blog and post information on social media networks like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter for the upcoming festival.

The Film and Digital Media program at CSU provides quality instruction in film theory, history of films and the art of making of films in the state-of-the art studios and other facilities.

CSU students have helped CIFF in a number of ways, including distributing film guides, taking tickets, handling ballots and blogging on the web in exchange for vouchers to attend film screenings, explained Neuendorf.

The students in the documentary film class, taught by Neuendorf, will participate in the collaborative panels on the film making experience and the film business.
“The panels support, promote and enhance our Film and Digital Media major in a variety of ways,” said Neuendorf.

In the School of Communication, “We’ve always been bringing guest speakers in, sending our students out [to the community], doing collaborative projects with community partners and organizations. The panel discussions here are really the one place at CSU where our students and everyone else in the community can meet and greet with filmmakers. It ultimately helps build Cleveland’s local film community,” said Neuendorf.

This two-day event gives students, faculty, staff, festival-goers and anyone else who like films the chance to meet the filmmakers, hear them talk about their films and ask questions relating to movie making, explained Neuendorf.

The panels are scheduled for March 27-28 and are free and open to the public. They will be held in the Music and Communication Building in Room 107.

For students in the media criticism class, taught by Dr. Robert Abelman, CIFF is an opportunity to see and review independent films.

“It is a rare and wonderful thing to have anything international in scope at our doorstep,” said Abelman. His students will research, analyze and write critiques of the films.

“Every student, and not just film students or communication majors, should partake in this opportunity to experience the small stories being told about the world’s many societies,” said Abelman.

CIFF has grown to attract nearly 67,000 people. For 11 days, many have the opportunity to go and watch screenings made from various parts of the world.

“We are always excited and optimistic to every upcoming film festival,” said Goodman. “The community is so supportive of film.”

Filmmakers compete for many awards throughout the festival. The Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for best feature film is selected through a ballot and will be given away on March 28. The award has been instituted in the honor of Roxanne T. Mueller, former film critic of The Plain Dealer.

The Central and Eastern European Film Competition, the Nesnadny and Schwartz Documentary Film Competition and the Standing Up Film Competition nominees will be judged by three jurors and the winners will be announced and receive cash prizes on the closing night.

Other student majors, including Middle Eastern Studies, International Business, Dramatic Arts and Modern Languages show interest and involvement with CIFF.

Students, faculty and staff can pick up vouchers on a first come first serve basis from MC 106. The vouchers must be redeemed for tickets at CIFF’s box office.

For tickets, call 877.304.3456 or they can be purchased online at www.clevelandfilm.org.