Nearly everyone has watched A Christmas Story on a lazy December 25, surrounded by family, food, and a big Douglas fir. It’s a Christmas classic, and it’s also a Cleveland classic. The house where much of the 1983 movie was filmed is right on West 11th Street.
“The house is a family fun place and the ultimate destination for any movie fan,” says Steve Siedlecki, executive director. “We offer guided tours that educate fans on why the film producers chose Cleveland and this particular house and once inside, fans get a chance to act out their favorite scenes by crawling under the kitchen sink like Randy, decoding their own secret message or getting a quick feel of the leg lamp in the front window.”
A Christmas Story house, museum and gift shop are open Thursday through Sunday year round, but its popularity really soars during the holidays, starting November 26-27 when A Christmas Story Convention beckons diehard film fans to town. Around 4,000 conventioneers will celebrate the movie with two days of big group screenings and documentaries, house tours, gift shop sprees, fire truck rides and a cocktail reception with many of the actors–Randy, Flick, Scut Farkus, Gover Dill, Miss Shields and the two Higbee Elves. They also get to meet the house historians, who are pure Christmas enthusiasts.
“Our staff is made up of fans of the movie, who are energetic, knowledgeable, and are here to make your A Christmas Story dreams come true,” says Siedlecki. “There is not a day that goes by that people don’t mention that the movie was like a mirror image of their own childhood. They relate to the time period, getting their tongue stuck to a flag pole or being bundled up in a snowsuit. We feel it is important because we ourselves are able to relate to the movie just like all the other fans.”
For more information on A Christmas Story House, museum tours, and the big convention, visit www.achristmasstoryhouse.com or call 216.298.4919. Take a photo tour here. — Submitted by Keith Gribbins, guest blogger
The Cleveland Institute of Art was originally founded in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. It wasn’t until 1949 that the school would officially become known as The Cleveland Institute of Art and in 1956 would find a new home at its present location in University Circle amongst the cultural gems of Cleveland. As part of one of the most densely packed square mile of arts and culture in the country, CIA fits right in offering top-notch education to aspiring artists. From somewhat humble beginnings, the Instute’s reputation has grown and it is now among the top professional art and design schools in the country.
Public programming at CIA includes a lengthy list of national and international exhibitions, visiting lecturers, faculty and student artwork, a film series and continuing education programs for people of all ages and abilities. Here are some ways you can take advantage of all the Cleveland Institute of Art has to offer:
Gallery Exhibitions Wander into CIA’s Reinberger Galleries located in the Gund Building at 11141 East Boulevard. These free galleries serve CIA art students, faculty and the community as an educational resource. Gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-9pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.
CIA Cinematheque The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque presents movies in the 616-seat Russell B. Aitken Auditorium located in the Gund Building at the corner of East Boulevard and Bellflower Road in University Circle. CIA shows more than 250 films each year including indie films and classics you probably won’t see elsewhere. Admission is $8 and concessions won’t break the bank. Park for free in the adjacent CIA lot. Click here for this week’s film schedule and here for an extended schedule.
Lecture Series The Visiting Artist Program invites artists of regional, national and international renown to CIA to foster the exchange of ideas and methods and to enhance education.
Check CIA’s website for evening lectures and don’t miss Lunchtime Lectures each Friday from 12-1pm when a visiting artist discusses their work and takes questions. Lectures showcase a wide variety of presenters who are active in fine arts and design. Lunchtime lectures are free and open to the public.
For more information visit www.cia.edu. –Submitted by CA
As if the Great Lakes Science Center‘s already spectacular offerings weren’t enough, the six-story Omnimax dome theater is among the first in the nation showing the new IMAX movie Hubble – and it is nothing short of an absolutely jaw-dropping wonder.
I took my 12-year-old daughter and we both could easily run out of superlatives trying to convey just how amazing this movie is. In just 45 minutes, you’ll not only relive the story of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment and the NASA missions over the years that kept this wondrous eye on the cosmos working, but through the telescope’s galaxy-spanning images, you’ll also take a stunning journey across space and into the heart of the Orion Nebula.
And, because the movie unfolds on the enormous curved screen, you can look around and feel like you’re there . . . impossibly suspended in a vast “star nursery” where suns and planets are born, drifting in zero-gravity with the crew in the cabin of Atlantis or standing in an open space shuttle cargo bay, the Earth shining overhead.
You’ll also get a great sense of the astronauts themselves, including Cleveland-area native Michael Good, who’s featured prominently as a member of the crew sent up in 2009 to carry out the final – and one of the most challening – missions to Hubble.
Hubble‘s rated G and I can’t imagine anyone who’s ever run around with a toy rocket, imagined flying to the stars or even just looked up at the sky for a few quiet moments could help but fall in love with it. Even if you’re not a space nerd like I am, the engrossing story and vivid photography will draw you in and take you on an unforgettable journey.
There’s never been an eye on the universe quite like Hubble, so it’s only fitting that there’s never been a movie quite like this, either.
Hubble runs three to four times daily – check the GLAC site for details here. And, although you can buy a ticket just to catch an Omnimax show, there are bargains to be had in purchasing combined tickets which include admission to the Center or the neighboring Steamship William G. Mather Museum. –Submitted by John Booth (read more from Cleveland Plus writer and guest blogger, John, here on his site.)
The 34th Cleveland International Film Fest is quickly approaching (March 18-28 at Tower City Cinemas), so make sure you’re ready. Tickets go on sale to CIFF Members February 26 at 11am and to the general public on March 5 at 11am.Here are some tips to help you make the most of one of Cleveland’s most popular events of the year:
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 passholders 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.
5) Download the CIFF iPhone app on February 15 for easy access to 2010 film details, images, trailers and up-to-the-minute screening information in real-time along with theater contact information and maps.
Some other film festival resources you may find helpful:
- To read more about what to expect click here and read about a Cleveland moviegoer’s experience at last year’s festival.
- Continue checking the Cleveland Film Society’s website and follow @CIFF on Twitter for daily updates.
- If you’re traveling to Cleveland for the film fest visit www.positivelycleveland.com for all your planning needs and information about other things going on in Cleveland Plus that week.
- Have questions about accommodations, dining or entertainment in Cleveland? Contact the Cleveland Plus Visitors Center at 216.875.6680 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get them answered.
–Submitted by CA
Well, no, not really – but after seeing a preview of U2 3D in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum‘s recently-turned-up-to-eleven Foster Theater, my 12-year-old daughter and I left the place feeling like we had actually seen the band in person.
I’ve never seen U2 live, and I didn’t get a chance to see this movie during its limited 2007 theatrical run, so during the opening moments after we’d put on our viewing glasses, I felt that pre-show excitement in my gut.
And when the first notes of the opening number roared through the speakers, I got a genuine goosebump rush–which would happen again at least a half-dozen times during the 85-minute movie.
The depth and natural effectiveness of the 3-D projection is absolutely fantastic. We said afterward that during some of the wide-angle shots, it seemed as though we were watching the foreground projected on a scrim while the stadium was an actual physical backdrop on the stage behind the screen.
At the same time, the audio was loud enough to engulf us without being distorted or hurting our hears, and sounded rich with directional layering and detail. There were a few moments when I really couldn’t tell if a fan’s cheer was a concert-goer captured live or someone in the theater next to me.
I had the good luck to be able to attend the Akron premiere of the Kristopher Belman documentary “More than a Game.” It was an extremely rainy Monday night, but that didn’t stop a ton of media, some lucky fans, basketball player Chris Paul and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic from showing up at the Civic Theatre to see the film about LeBron James, four of his teammates (James Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee, Sian Cotton and Romeo Travis) and their inspirational coach (Dru Joyce II) on a journey to win a national high school basketball championship.
The film chronicles the story of each of the “Fab 5″ teammates as they progress from challenged urban youth to become winning men. The coming of age story weaves together interviews with the tight-knit group of players, personal photos, home videos and news clips to depict the highs and lows this “family” faced to reach their goals.
Before the movie, Belman, an Akron native, stood on the stage at the showing and said he had ” one dream and one goal” which was to tell the story of this team and to bring it home to share with his friends and family. After, there was a “Q+A” session for the audience with Belman, Coach Dru and four of the “Fab 5″ in which it was evident that one) all had gone on to be successes in their own ways (graduating from college, playing in the NBA, starting families of their own) and two) they were all still close friends.
“More than a Game” will be released October 2. For more information, visit www.morethanagamemovie.com. –Submitted by SF
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).
It’s that time of year again. A Christmas Story fever is taking hold. The slice-of-Americana, cult classic holiday film that runs over and over again every year is popping up all over the place. Little Orphan Annie decoder rings, Life Bouy soap and “major awards” of all sizes (leg lamp nightlights, leg lamp decorative light strings, leg lamp desk lamps, leg lamp ornaments) abound–especially in Cleveland. You see, much of that lovable little flick was filmed here in Cleveland. Remember Black Bart sneaking off through the Ralphie’s yard or the “glow of sex” in the window of that unassuming little Parker house on Cleveland street? Well, that stuff was all shot here.
My office is on the first floor of the Higbee Building, a former downtown Cleveland department store where, in the movie, Ralphie visited Santa to make his big plea for a much-coveted Red Ryder BB gun with the compass in the stock and this “thing” that tells time. One of my coworkers, Mark, remembers being a young extra in the Santa scene. His father was a higher up for the department store at the time and he has treasured snapshots of him in period attire. This year, Positively Cleveland (the area’s convention and visitors bureau) commemorated the building’s role in the Christmas movie with a pretty elaborate display in the front corner window on Public Square. And, we’re working with the Plain Dealer to give away “A Christmas Story” prizes to the winners of a 400-word “What I want for Christmas” essay contest. We have a couple hundred entries to-date and are hoping for some really original stuff.