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March 21, 2013

CIFF be the applause

By Aziza Doleh

It’s that time of year for our Film and Digital Media department and Cleveland moviegoers to get excited. The 37th Cleveland International Film Festival will kick off April 3 to celebrate some of the best international films. The festival will run through April 14 and will feature an immense array of films at Tower City Center. This year, CIFF has 178 feature films and 164 short subjects from 65 countries.

CIFF will be celebrating their 37th birthday on Saturday, April 13. They will also be celebrating the life of George Gund III, a founding trustee of more than 11 years.

Last year, CIFF was proud to introduce and develop the Focus on Filmmakers program, with support from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which will run for three years. Last year’s theme was African Diaspora, and this year the focus will be on filmmakers from the Latino community. The purpose of the program is to represent minority communities. Cleveland State is a proud sponsor of the Cinema en Español films.

Modern Languages Chair Dr. Tama Engelking (involved with the Filmmaker Panels and introducing the Cinema Espanol sidebar films), said filmmaking is an art and has heard film makers say that when they create a cinematic work of art, they are not necessarily thinking of how their film represents the country or countries in which the film is made. Their role is not to represent world cultures, but create a work of art.

Engelking also said that shaking up American viewers to experiences outside of their own little comfort zone is very important because students tend to think of their own culture as the default culture.  They tend to take for granted that everything must be like the way it is in the U.S.  Opening their eyes to the huge diversity of topics and places covered by foreign films is a growth experience if they are open to it.

Cleveland State is one of the many sponsors and partners of CIFF. A sponsor since 2007, Cleveland State will participate in the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Subject on final night of the festival. The university also partners with CIFF in organizing an annual panel discussion.

Like past years, Cleveland State will host a series of interactive panel discussions with filmmakers from April 13-14. The School of Communication will host and organize the event, with the support of the Department of Modern Language. Dr. Kimberly Neuendorf and Dr. Evan Lieberman, film and digital media professors in the School of Communication, are in charge of putting this series together. Filmmakers and Cleveland State faculty will discuss the art, craft and business of moving image production for both narrative and documentary forms.

“Twenty-five different filmmakers come here to the panels and it’s great for our students to see them and interact with these people,” Neuendorf said.
The panel discussions on “The State of Independent Film Criticism” Saturday, April 13 (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) will be moderated by Dr. Bob Abelman, professor of communication and theatre critic for Cleveland’s News-Herald.

“Even though I am moderating a panel discussion, I am looking forward to seeing these films as an observer and admirer of films and the international aspect,” Abelman said.
The session on “Screenplays and Documentary Writing: Where the Road Forks” Saturday, April 13 (1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.) and will be moderated by Michael Rand, associate professor and documentary writer/producer/director, whose work has been featured at CIFF in years past.

“I think it’s important that people recognize is there is a lot of talent here, we have a lot of talented students with a lot of creative ideas, and hopefully these panels will nurture those ideas,” Rand said.

The session on “Shooting the Independent Film” is Saturday, April 13 (3-4:30 p.m.) the panel will be moderated by Dr. Evan Lieberman, associate professor of film, who has worked as a writer, producer, director and director of photography on five independent feature films and dozens of shorts, commercials and music videos.

“Post-Production and All the Option” is Sunday, April 14 (noon-1:30 p.m.) the panel’s moderator will be John Ban, lecturer in digital media production. Professor Ban has more than 30 years of professional experience in broadcast, cable and corporate communications industries.

“CSU visibility and participation during CIFF has greatly helped create awareness and understanding of our film sequence… has created some great relationships with our fellow film brothers,” Ban said. “Students that participate with our panels and attend the CIFF films learn contemporary knowledge and gives them a leg up on other school film programs.”

The final session “Intercultural and International Filmmaking” is Sunday, April 14 (2-3:30 p.m.) the panel is co-presented by Cleveland State’s Department of Modern Languages, which with the School of Communication has unveiled a new international film minor. Associate Professor of Spanish in Modern Languages Dr. Antonio Medina-Rivera will act as moderator.

Film festival students and Clevelanders interested in cinema or filmmaking are encouraged to attend the panel discussions, which are free to the public.
“The filmmakers are very sharing, they love to come here and have people listen to them and ask them questions, they love it,” Neuendorf said.

Byron White, vice president of University Engagement, who is the point person on CIFF, believes the sponsorship is a very important one to Cleveland State.

“It’s a perfect fit for the university’s efforts, it’s a vibrant growing international event for the university to be associated is a real privilege,” White said. “It certainly speaks to our students and our faculty, specially our connection with arts community, film and media being really core to aligning with the festival is perfect.”

In addition to participating in the panels, White encourages all film and digital media students to take advantage of CIFF and watch the films and celebrate the diversity, inclusion and multi-culturism that the university sponsors.
This year CIFF has added a College Day on April 9, when students will get free admission from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CIFF has grown nearly to about 85,000 attendees nationwide. For almost two weeks moviegoers have the opportunity to see films from around the world and experience the appreciation of the arts from international filmmakers.

Tickets are on sale to CIFF Members now and will be available to the general public on
March 22nd at 11 a.m. 

Tickets are $12.00 for members and $14.00 for non-members. For more information go to www. clevelandfilm.org.