Cleveland International Film Festival (03.22.09)

It’s Sunday . . . my one opportunity all week to snooze. But, I was up with the birds this week because I needed to get to Tower City a little before 9am for the first showing of films in the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF). It was my only chance to see It’s Not Me, I Swear!,  a Canadian picture about a chronically unhappy young boy in 1968 who lies to pretty much everyone about pretty much everything even before his mother abandons the family for the life of an artist in Greece. It was worth the effort of dragging myself out of bed. 

Today I saw three films total–all foreign. In addition to the aforementioned comedy/drama of childhood angst (which is actually C’est pas moi, je le jure!), I went to Dunya & Desie (two very different 18 year-old friends battle help each other through life-changing decisions involving motherhood and arranged marriage) and Tokyo! (three very different stories set in Tokyo and directed by three different directors including a personal fav of mine, Michel Gondry).

Yesterday I caught Three Blind Mice (an Australian pic about naval officers on leave for a night in Sydney) and Terribly Happy (a Danish dark comedy about a new Marshall in a town with a deep bog and even deeper secrets). And, although I took Friday night off to catch up with an old friend and, of all things, see the mainstream theatrical release The Watchmen, opening night I went to Lightbulb, a movie loosely based on real events about the inventor of the talking bottle opener. Yeah, I know . . .  who’d have thought? 

So, we’re four days in and I’ve seen six movies, CIFF has had its second highest attendance day EVER in the history of the festival (Saturday, March 21) and I’ve run into event regulars like my cousin, Plain Dealer reporters, WKSU personalities, college professors, musicians, Rock Hall staffers photographers, freelance journalists, restauranteurs, hoteliers . . . a real melting pot of seasoned film fanatics who have completely marked up their program guides and have their tickets in hand.

Think I’m overindulging in foreign and indie film? In comparison to many, I am a frat boy puker. I overheard many moviegoers who do five or six films a day. And, apparently we’re not all local. Quite a few had hotel rooms downtown and I’ve heard about one in ten attendees are from out of town. 

There’s still a whole week to go. Interested? Here are a few tips: 
1) Buy your tickets in advance. Movies that have a buzz fill up fast and standby is not a guarantee.
2) Pick up the daily guides. They keep you in the loop about schedule changes, director sightings and more.
3) Use your discounts. CIFF ticket buyers and pass holders are entitled to discounts at restaurants, pubs, stores and theaters in Cleveland. You’re going to need to get out of the dark eventually, why not save 15% or get a free appetizer while you’re at it? 
4) If you get popcorn, go big. While it’s $10.50 for a large pop (yep, we say pop in Cleveland . . . get over it) and a popcorn, it’s refillable. If you’re in it for the long haul, chances are, you’ll go through a couple of buckets in a day. 

See you at the movies. –Submitted by Samantha Fryberger

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Positively Cleveland is the destination marketing organization that has been promoting business and leisure tourism to Cleveland for more than 75 years.

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